Sale Away

Friday, 30 December 2016

Firstly, I must apologise for a lack of content recently. I definately needed a break after quite a trying time at work, so I decided to use the holiday period to rest and recuperate...and eat tons of chocolate (oops). I was fortunate to have been gifted with quite a large selection of sweets in the run-up to xmas and so, I felt it rude to waste them (*wink).

Anyway, back to the issue at hand and whilst I'm putting together this post, the Boxing Day Sales are in full swing here in the UK. In fact, quite a few started a week/few days prior to xmas ( and Harrods to name just two).

This year, I took a more reserved approach, stemming mainly from decluttering my wardrobe. I was inspired by this video by Anna to wake up bright an early on my first day off in months (I know) and completely empty my wardrobe and start to figure out what I need and what I should donate to my local charity shop. Without too much of an explanation of the details (I suggest watching Anna's video for more info on this subject) I ended up with an entire bin-bag full of clothes and I must admit I felt guilty: the waste of money, the poor fashion choices and the fact it made me realise how I give in to clothing temptation far too easily. So, with that in mind, I feel like it was good I did this before I started to shop, as I kept reminding myself of all the things I have (much more then I first thought) and that in reality I don't really need anything. That being said, this is me we're talking about and so I did make a couple of purchases, but all well thought out.

It has been bitterly cold here in the UK of late and so I thought it time to invest in a nice cashmere scarf. I have seen a number of them in stores, but they all seem rather flimsy....until I started browsing the N.Peal website. I realised that going to the actual brand website is better then searching via a department store, as they often have a bigger selection of colours. Of course, cashmere is wildly expensive, even during a sale, so I didn't really expect to find anything under £100, which was the budget I set myself. However, when scrolling through the many cashmere scarves that were on sale I came across this ribbed number in Mulberry Red. It arrived today and I am really pleased with it, its light, but good quality and not to short in length.

I definately did most of my sale purchases online this year, even if it just meant the initial research (serious My next buy was the same Zara fur collared coat I bought on Black Friday, but this time in navy with the leopard print fur (shock horror!). Of course, once it arrives I will be taking it to a tailor to have the fur across the collar removed, as it is the cut of the coat that appeals to me (had you worried there).

Paperchase is another eagerly anticipated sale, but I decided to bypass it in favour of the Liberty sale. I didnt't pick up many things apart from a greetings card with the a short description of the joys of caravanning on the front (yes, really) and a floral, Liberty print pencil.

Next stop, John Lewis and all I was after were some scented sachets to put into my wardrobe to help keep my knitwear and other things, nicely scented (bit of granny-chic there :) so I was pleased to see these Cath Kidston scented drawer liners were in the sale. I only bought one box and now they've sold out online. These are similar if you're interested.

Lasty, but not leastly (is that a word?), was Harrods. I visited the store on the Friday before xmas to find that their sale was in full swing. It wasn't too busy, so I took a good look around. I browsed the perfume section, which is always busy in the sale, and saw the Bvlgari Jamin Noir purse spray had been reduced. This is without doubt my favourite perfume, its dark and mysterious and does not have that artificial smell of some other mainstream perfumes.

I am well and truly done with shopping (for a little while at least). My wardrobe decluttering session has helped me think about how I spend my hard earned salary and be grateful for all the things I have.

'tis the season for giving :)

Happy New Year !

Winter Warmers

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Although it has been a tad mild here in the UK these past few days, it does not discourage me from indulging in some hearty fayre this time of year. When else would a rustic apple and blackberry pie with lashings of cream or custurd feel almost obligatory to consume?. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of my fav winter warmers (time to put those weighing scales and skinny jeans away into hibernation...needs must).

Starting off with breakfast and as per usual, I have a mug of hot water on an empty stomach to rehydrate myself. After about half an hour or so, I warm some semi-skimmed milk in a pan (or any milk of your choice), which I find just takes away the cold edge and when poured over a bowl of Bran Flakes, dried fruit, crushed walnuts and a dollop of almond butter, proves to make an unctuous concoction to start my day off right. Fast forward to lunch and I have been lamenting the lack of winter appropriate lunch options available in supermarkets. All the healthier choices are limp and dull lettuce leaves mixed with tomatos and shredded carrots...not the "warm-me-up", filling lunch I want. That's where soups are my No1 friend: heated gently, you cant beat some potato and leek soup with a crusty baguette.

Next stop is the mid afternoon pick-me-up: By 2pm I am seriously flagging at my desk and the thought of doing some mundane task such as stapling those 300 leaflets together in time for the parents coffee morning the following day, seems a delightful prospect. So its time for a treat and what better than a lovely, creamy hot chocolate. I am fortunate to have numerous coffee shops and cafes near to where I work, but my favourite is definately Costa. I am steadily working my way through their Xmas drinks menu and so far the Black Forest chocolate is my fav (hmmm, I think it was my fav last year too). The cups are so cute and fun and this year seem to have a "winter jumper" vibe to them

Hometime!..and its time to think about supper (I love that word :). Usually, it would be a jacket potato or salmon fish cakes with rice and salad, but its that time of year where I think only a roast will do. Of course, its not always practical to russle up a roast with all the trimmings on a Monday night (its an achievment if I muster the energey to peel the celephone off my ready meal on an avergae week night). So, come the weekend its time to up-my-game and try the Jamie Oliver roast Lamb recipe. The leftovers will do nicely for sandwiches or dinner the next night.

For those of you who are trying to shift those extra, stubborn, pounds (as I am), being surrounded by chocolate is difficult to deal with, especially at this time of year, when everywhere you turn, you are confronted by a bar of dairy milk the size of your house, so I am allowing myself only the smallest amounts and try substituting chocolate for dried fruit whenever possible (same intense sweet hit, but without the refined sugar). 

Wishing you a wonderful, winter!

They think it's all over....

Sunday, 27 November 2016

...but not just yet.

Its been a busy few days of retail therapy. I spent most of last week monitoring the websites of popular high street stores and scanning the Money Saving Expert website, to keep in the know about Black Friday updates. The good news is that I managed to tick off two items from my shopping wishlist a'la my Operation Black Friday post last week. The Zara coat which had me up at 1am on Friday morning (I kid you not) and the L.K Bennett flats which induced palpitations in me as I snapped up the last pair in a size 5.5 at John Lewis with the speed of a cheetah on the Serengeti. The other few items on my list were not on sale, which, ironically, I am pleased about, as it means I can pace myself for the next shopathon on Boxing Day.

As for the items which were not on my list, but somehow managed to find their way into my abode (oops) are a pair of Red Herring black ankle boots which I purchased at Debenhams (sold out now, I'm afraid) and a True Grace diffuser in Portobello Oud. I actually bought the refill bottle, because it was less expensive and so that I can pour some into my empty diffuser bottle at work (two birds n all that).

I also picked up a couple of books, which I have had my literary eye on these last few months. The first being The Silk Roads by Peter Frankophan, which seems to be permanently on every bestseller list this year. And The One Thing by Gary Keller, which a friend recommened, saying it helps you to focus on one thing at a time and dispels the positivities of multi-tasking.

Of course, as Black Friday weekend is drawing to a close, Cyber Monday is about to take hold and I can imagine many of us at work tomorrow will not being fully focussed on that spreadsheet or sending that important memo, whilst we try to see if those Louboutin's have been reduced. Just make sure not to email a link to that Gucci bag to the boss by mistake :/

Operation Black Friday

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Ok, so I told myself, friends and colleagues that I wouldnt fall pray to the hype about Black Friday....and then I woke up. Its that time of year again and I am prepping my sales wishlist and its chock-full of goodies :) I'm hoping to stick rigidly to my list and not buy things just to satiate my "bargain-hunter" instinct (lets see if it works and I dont end up with a neon pink, faux fur coat, just because its 70% off).

The best advice I ever read about sales shopping is prep, prep and prep some more. That is, do your research and go into stores from now, try on the items of clothing or shoes you want, to check what size is best. If you're after a new bag (as am I), find one you like from now and in which colour, style, etc. It will save time and injury on the day, as the mass scrum for bargains will arouse the inner beast in many a timid creature and scenes of shoppers being pushed and shoved for the sake of a discount pair of socks is not uncommon. Black Friday is not the time for a leisurely browse.

Shopping online is also a good option: Often retailers start discounting their stock early and of course online shopping is 24/7, so come Thurs night, yours truly will be sat in her cosey pjs, with a mug of mint tea (obvs), debit card in hand, at my laptop to see if I can tick a few items off my list a bit early. No doubt I will go into work the next day more blurry eyed than usual, but hey, at least I can rejoice that I managed to nab that cashmere sweater at 40% off. Aah, Bisto.

Right, enough of my ramblings, time to share what's made my Black Friday list ("if its not on the list, its not coming in" my closet, that is).

1. Zara Coat 
I saw this coat on my lunch break last week, as I have a small branch of Zara near to where I work. Of course *Geraldine, a work colleague, had asked me to pick up a sandwich for her lunch that day, so I didnt have the time to try the coat on (Hell hath no fury like Geraldine not having lunch on time). So yesterday I decided to pop along to Zara to try it on and I was really pleased with the fit. Its not made of wool, so its not the warmest of coats, but the shape is slightly cocooning, which is what I'm after.

2. COS Scarf
Another one? I hear you say. Yes indeedy, but in shades of dark navy and green. I am a self-confessed scarf sue me :)

3. L.K. Bennett Shoes
I have been looking for a pair of black ballet flats for a while now and these are perfect. Both the black and blush pair are on my list.

4. Topshop Lace Top
This is one of the those items that makes you gush over its simplicity and cuteness. With black trousers for work its just the right mix of feminine/masculine and very reasonably priced, even before the sale.

5. Burberry Check Scarf
Enough said.

6. Zara Floral Dress
Simple cut, but a beautiful, opulent print. Hope to pick this up at the same time as the coat mentioned above.

Perhaps there may be a few additions in the coming days, but all in all I am pleased with what I have chosen. Let the Black Friday Feeling commence!

*Disclaimer: Geraldine is a fictional name for my sidekick at know who you are :P

Non-Fiction November

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Apologies for the delayed post. I got so engrossed in study (a HR course I'm currently doing) over the weekend that I did not get a chance to compile this week's blog post. Better late then never eh?

A few days ago I was watching some of my favourite Book-Tubers (Youtubers who review books, that is) and I became aware that this month is "National Non-Fiction November". Of course, with non-fiction being my favourite genre of books, I was naturally pleased about this. The books I am keen to read by the end of the month (here's hoping) are:

Weatherland by Alexandra Harris - A book about how the weather has been interpreted and described by some well-known British literary greats, such as Chaucer. It's even more of a reason to discuss that rainy day at the bus stop on your commute to work and pepper it with quotes from the book :)

I will need to make sure I have a fully tummy before delving into On the Menu, the World's Favourite Piece of Paper by Nicholas Lander, as it will undoubtedly be an encyclopaedia of deliciousness. I suppose it's yet again one of those things that you don't really think about: you go to a restaurant, peruse the menu and place your order, without much thought given to the paper you're holding . This book is about the history of the menu and how a chef or restauranter devises the menu and its layout. If you're on a diet, steer clear of this one.

On a more celestial note, I am very much looking forward to reading An Astronomer's Tale  by Gary Fildes. It is the true story of Gary Fildes, who went from bricklayer to the "Patrick Moore of the North", pursuing his lifelong fascination with astronomy.

Lastly, is a  book which is quite similar to the first, Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane is about how lamgage is used to shape our understanding of the landscape and the weather (more references to the weather, how quintessentially British).

Spread the word: Its Non-Fiction November!

About a Blog...

Sunday, 6 November 2016 blog, that is. If you have visited this area of the "blogosphere" before then you would have noticed that it is a completely photo-free zone. That is, I have not uploaded any photos of the products I have written about, nor dazzled my readers with lush backgrounds decorated with fairy lights and the usual Instagram-friendly fayre. My reasons are partly that I have not yet purchased a camera (something which I hope to change soon) and partly that I love writing...or typing in this case, and by not using pictures it means I have to utilise my descriptive prowess more, which I enjoy. Of course, all the products I mention are linked to and so, if you do wish to see pictures they are easily accessible.

As I compile this post I am wondering if there are other "picture-free" blogs out there that I have not yet come across. If you know of any, please leave a comment below, as I would really like to know :)

On a completely different note, I am thoroughly enjoying the book A Street Cat Named Bob. I am a cat person and have been ever since I was little (*Note to self - which reminds me that I still need to watch Disney's The Aristocats). Back to the book and without giving away too much of the story, it is about a London based busker (and recovering drug-addict) who befriends a stray ginger cat - awww. I thought I'd read the book before going to see the movie this weekend (can you tell I'm looking forward to it?).

I think we all need a good, innocent, feel-good book/film now and again, and I am pretty sure this one will be just purrrrrfect.

Handbags and Gladrags

Sunday, 30 October 2016

I would highly recommend a cup of tea and a biscuit or two for this post, as it is very product heavy and may take some time to get through (does that sentence ryhme?). Anyway, on with the products: I have been deliberating over whether to purchase a designer bag for quite some time, years in fact, but I cant seem to make up my mind. Primarily its that I just cant seem to find anything I truly love and for the whopping price tags associated with high-end bag purchases I know I need to be 100% sure that its gonna be a keeper and not a one-month-wonder. As much as I like the Givenchy Antigona, I just dont think its practical for London public transport...too cumbersome and not "rush hour" appropriate. Nor does the Saint Laurent Sac De Jour bag rock my boat for similar reasons. The price is an issue in so much as it seems to offend my morals, so I have come to the conclusion that under 1k is what I will allow myself to spend on a bag. So, with that massive ramble over, the contenders are (drum roll please), the Mulberry Freya Satchel which is a chic little number and is understated and practical. I love the simple tree motif at the front. The second is the more reasonably priced Radley Hardwick bag, which some might say is a tad old fashioned, but I kinda like that in a bag :) Hopefully, I would have made a decision and taken the plunge soon. I am veering more towards the Mulberry, but who knows.

On to a few other likes and purchases, the first being a Cos checked wool scarf, which is so soft and light to wear, its a joy! and perfect wrapped over a jumper and coat. I decided to treat myself to a piece of jewellery, because..well, there was no real reason and that my friends is that: Catbird Mignon Memory Ring. I havent received it as yet, but will post my opinion of it on my blog. Again the simplicity of it won me over.

Ive always found it difficult to find well fitting trousers, at 5'4 either they are too long or too short on me. However, Topshop seem to have nailed the length of their cigerette trousers and so I highly recommend them, especially the coloured ones, as they are perfect for work with a nuetral top, like the dark red trousers with a simple grey or black sweater.

I am loving checks this season and especially check dresses, a case in point is this fab number from French Connection, which would look great over slim fit trousers, or tights and boots Darla Check Dress

Last but by no means least is a stationary item which has my heart all a flutter and are just perfect for securing those pesky pieces of paper together for my HR course and they look good too, Paperchase rose gold binder clips

If you managed to make it this far with this post, then congratulations, otherwise, you have missed out on what I think, are some amazing products.  Do let me know what you have been loving this month :)

Out With The New, In With The Old

Sunday, 23 October 2016

I need to get a new mobile phone (I dont know why I put the word "mobile" in there, as by default, these days any reference to a phone means a mobile..does anyone still have a landline at home?). Anyway, I digress: you see I have had my phone since 2011 - I shall allow you a few minutes to pick yourself up from the floor and gather your thoughts- it is still in perfect working order of course and apart from the Samsung logo rubbed away from the back of the phone, it does everything I need it to, so why do I feel the need to change it?. It's probably because of the sense of ostracisation I feel everytime I take out my phone and see the looks of pity and confusion on the faces of those around me. A small part of me wants to be in the Iphone 1,2,3,4,5,6 and now 7 gang, but there is a louder voice inside me urging me to resist.

Which brings me to the title of this post, "Out With The New, In With The Old", a little play on a well-known phrase, but I wanted to emphasise that having something which is old (nowadays its more than 6 months) is no bad thing. In fact theres something quite satisfying about having something well-loved, used and best of all, in perfect working order (that can refer to one's life partner as well....hehehe).

We are all suseptible to this disposable, upgradable culture. Whether its a phone, handbag, shoes or even a lifestyle, it is all "up for an upgrade", needed or not. I guess because of social media, we are bombarded with pictures of new and exciting items, much better then what we already own, or so we are led to believe and if you don't have item X or lifestyle Y, then woe betide you. 

I have never been one to follow a crowd, not the "Im not going to follow the crowd, but I eventually will" type, but the really stuck in my ways, not-gona-budge-unless-its-suitable-for- me type, which gives me a sense of pleasure I must admit.

Back to my phone though and Watsapp are sending me messages saying that unless I upgrade my phone by December 31st this year, "I will no longer be able to use their service"....hmmm, what to do...I am still undecided.

p.s for anyone wondering, my phone is the Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830

My Favourite Youtubers

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The subject of this post is about my favourite Youtubers (that is, people who make Youtube videos...obvs). I haven't had a tv since 2009 and it is because I no longer have a tv (it was my choice, really it was), that I have come to enjoy watching videos about the things I like the most...healthy eating, shopping, stationary, fitness, shopping (did I mention that already?).

One of the first Youtubers I started to watch was Anna, who just comes across as such a genuine, lovely person that one cant help but watch her "what I eat in a day" videos and travel vlogs, amongst the other topics she covers.

For more a more beatnik vibe, I like sunbeamsjess. She is currently doing "Vlogtober" (posting videos everyday in October) and my fav so far is her Scottish Highlands vlog.

I doubt I will ever own a Chanel bag, but I am satiated by watching Chase Amie and her handbag wishlist videos.

For healthy eating and fitness, my two favourites are, Zanna a personal trainer from London and Madeline Shaw for great tips for health and wellbeing.

I hope you find someone amongst these few lovely ladies to watch and enjoy!

Are you sitting comfortably?...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

..then let me begin: I have had a rollacoaster relationship with books. At times I have ploughed through them like a bulldozer would in a snowdrift and at other times months go by without me perusing a bestseller, or devouring some obscure literary work I came across in my local Waterstones. But of late, thankfully, it is the former. I take great pride in my small, but perfectly formed book collection. I am definately a non-fiction kinda gal, as I like the reality and factual nature of that genre of books.

Amongst my favs are, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, an excellent read about how ideas and products just seem to "catch on" and before you know it even your great aunt's cat has the latest Iphone (you get the gist). My next book may seem an odd choice by those who know me well, considering me and maths simply do not get along (Ive tried to make it work ever since school, but there's just no common ground...or so I keep telling myself), but the book Thinking in Numbers, How Maths Illuminates Our Lives, by Daniel Tammet is a suprisingly relaxing and insightful read. I paricularly like the chapter likening our familiarity with proverbs to learning times-tables.

For those of you who are more career minded (or simply going to slit your wrists if you hear Geraldine from accounts telling you to "staple the receipts to the back of your petty cash form" one more time) and are looking for a new job, the book Get the Job You Really Want by the dashing James Caan contains pearls of wisdom on how to secure the job you've always wanted (minus Geraldine).

The last, but not at all least, is a book very close to my heart, Quiet by Susan Cain is, as the author describes, "a book about introversion as seen from a cultural point of view". I have always struggled with peoples perception of my "introvertedness" and this book seems to have given a sense of legitmacy to a way of being that has always sat in the shadows (by its very nature) whilst the extroverts in society happily occupy the spotlight. That's fine by me I say.

Eating Seasonably

Sunday, 2 October 2016

I haven't always eaten seasonal fruit and vegetables, but over the past year or so I have realised how nutrionionally important (and tasty) it is to eat foods that are in season. I'm not sure why I have only come to this conclusion now, as growing up my mother would always tell me how fresh Cyprus potatoes are in July and how oranges are at their sweetest later in the year (as well as many other motherly pearls of wisdom....thanks mum!). I suppose with the hustle and bustle of daily life, I was drawn into the idea that all vegetables and fruit should be available all year round, regardless of whether it is in season or not and the nutrional benefits didnt really factor. Thankfully, I have woken up and smelt the blackberries (quite literally, as you will find out).

Without going into the minutiae of this subject, I thought it would be nice to just mention a few fruit and veg that are in season now and how I'm including them in my diet: Right, time for breakfast and these days its a hearty bowl of Kelloggs Bran Flakes with warm organic milk, about 15 fresh blackberries (in season and yes, I do count them) and if I remember (which I didn't this morning) a dollop of almond butter. Cucumbers, sweetcorn, broccolli and my personal favourite this time of year, brussel sprouts, the latter two I boil with my pasta to save on time. Apples are another winner for snacks and to satisfy my sweet tooth.

I would highly recommend downloading the Eat Seasonably Calender and if you're on Facebook, to "Like" their page to have fresh and juicy posts about what's in and what's out in the fruit and veg world. I enjoy seeing their veggie and fruity pictures almost as much as those posted by my cousin of her and her husband's recent trip to Prague.....ok may be not.


Sunday, 25 September 2016

I like toast. I mean, I reallyyy like toast. I have pieces of toast in my wardrobe and some in my drawers. "Has she lost her marbles?" I hear you ask ("probably" my brother, friends and work colleagues would say). But rest assured I am still of a sound state of mind, for the toast I am referring to is the clothing brand TOAST. I feel this brand does not get the recognition or publicity it deserves considering how lovely its products are. Since its beginning in 1997, its been a firm favourite of mine, selling deliciously soft knitwear, crisp cotton pjs, cosey socks, homewear and generally well considered items. Of course, the quality comes with a hefty price tag, but I can overlook that, as the pieces of toast I own (do you see what I did there?) are some of my most worn items of clothing and have really stood the test of time.

Fast forward to A/W16 and on my wishlist are the merino aran sweater in forest green, the artist cord tunic dress in navy and bracken and the dreamy cashmere gauzy scarf. Of course, I can only afford to purchase one of these items per pay cheque, otherwise I will just be living on toast (the food that is).

mellow fruitfulness

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons and this year it was even more eagerly anticipated due to the unseasonably warm weather we have had here in the UK. I rarely express my disdain for summer to people I know, for fear of a vitriolic backlash. Now the new season is finally upon us and I can display my giddyness (is that even a word?) with aplomb for all the new pieces I hope to add to not only my wardrobe, but my kitchen cupboard and pencil case. Not to mention the vibrant, autumnal colours displayed by the natural landscape which surrounds us. 

The first purchase which I must admit I acquired back in July (now that is eagerness) came in the form of a Boden sweater in deep burgundy with button detail This was swifty followed by a black cardigan from COS with yet again more button details (are you sensing a theme here?). It has a wrap front and left undone, creates a beautiful drape.

I have recently started a HR course to enhance my job prospects, so naturally it meant new stationary (no really, it did),  and so, whilst browsing the aisles of WH Smith I came across the wonder of the Papermate Inkjoy pen which I swatched on the back of my hand in the shop as one would with a lipstick. My assignments have never looked so good. 

When I awoke yesterday morning and opened my living room window, as I do everyday, a smile spread across my face when a chilly breeze entered the room. Autumn is finally here