Sunday, 30 September 2012

London Fashion Weekend: Fall Edition

You may recall that I went to London Fashion Weekend earlier this year and had a fabulous time! Well I decided to go again a little over a week ago with my friend Danielle and it was just as fun! We showed up at Somerset house, where London Fashion Week takes place just a few days before, and got these cute little Mulberry tote bags that included cute little giveaways like miniature Jean Paul Gautier designed Coca-Cola bottles, Elizabeth Arden face cream and Kinder Bueno bars (yum!). After a little photo session in front the big screens below we moved onto shopping inside the beautiful buildings.

Our arrival at London Fashion Weekend! Behind this colourful wall is where all the catwalk shows take place.

Me and Danielle above taking a break from shopping on one of the Somerset House balconies. It's such a beautiful space! It started to sprinkle a few times but luckily we had an umbrella.
Inside one of the designer boutiques. All of the clothes and accessories are marked down by around 30-70% so you can get some really good deals if you're willing to search.
Sitting on the catwalk waiting for the trend runway show to start! The trend show is a mish mash of all of the best/hottest looks from London Fashion Week.

Loved this dress...kind of reminds me of a Victoria Beckham dress. There were tons of blues, dark blues and blacks on the catwalk.
I love this oversized sweater, it's perfect for London's nippy weather during autumn and winter. This hairstyle was all over the runway. I'm going to have to try this over sized bouffant!
This gothic inspired black gown looked really fabulous coming down the catwalk. Love the strapless look, but afraid this one might fall down if I put it on!

After the catwalk show finished at around 8, Danielle and I headed over to Tom's Kitchen for dinner which came as part of a package with our LFW tickets. Tom's Kitchen also has a location in Chelsea which I've been to, but this one is slightly more understated and rustic, and it has a lovely view of the Thames. We dined on creamy mushroom risotto and toasted with a glass of bubbly before heading to get some fruity cocktails underneath a tented bar right outside Somerset House. One of the best parts of going to London Fashion Weekend is the people watching...it's honestly so good. You get so many people in their most daring looks that you know they'd only wear to this event, and I think it may more pronounced in London than in other cities - it's so eclectic here. Overall it was a very chic evening in great company...already looking forward to the spring event!


Monday, 24 September 2012

Branding With Style

Last week I attended a fabulous networking event put on by Stylist, my favourite UK magazine. It's  published weekly and they hand it out for free at tube stations across London on Wednesday mornings. I always feel better on Wednesdays when I've got one in my hand! They cover everything from fashion and celebrities to politics and the latest national and global news. One of the most interesting things they cover is career advice and work/life balance issues. They'll interview a successful woman about her daily routine, or give tips on how to improve you CV (resume) or how take the next step in your career. Perhaps the most interesting career focused thing they do are these fabulous networking events on topics such as starting a business and how to build your business online. The event I went to at London's swanky Mayfair Hotel was called "How to build a world famous business." Even though I don't have a concrete idea about what type of business I'd want to start in the future, I thought it would be really inspirational to attend and see what tips they had to offer and hear what other entrepreneurial women were up to.

The guests of honour at the event were Jo Malone, the founder of fragrance brand Jo Malone and Jo Loves, Eimear Lambe from Twitter and Stylist's fashion editor, Olivia Phillips. They sat on a panel and shared experiences about branding your business, using social media to boost your business and getting buzz about your brand in the top magazines, and then they fielded questions from the eager audience. They all gave really practical tips about how to take your brand to market and get it noticed (especially in Stylist!). I loved hearing everyone's ideas...it just made me feel like starting my own business would really be within reach.

One of the other perks of the evening was meeting lovely ladies from all over the London (and the world) and enjoying bubbly and yummy canap├ęs. It's so amazing how London can bring together people from every country...the women I chatted to most of the evening were from South Africa, Australia and England...what a mix! Head on over to Stylist if you want to see/hear more from the fun evening!



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tasty Eats in London

It's been almost a year since we moved to London and in that time we've tried a lot of restaurants: some great, some good and some not so good. It's always hard moving to a new place and finding the best spots to go...it's one of those things where you just have to give it a go and hope for the best! Before taking a leap of faith in a new place, I usually poke around on Yelp and Top Table (the UK version of Open Table) to read reviews. I wanted to share a few of my favourites in case any of you are coming over here anytime soon or just want to know what's good in this lovely city. So, here are a few of my faves...hope you enjoy!

Jim and I first went to Tom's Kitchen in Chelsea when our friends Alexis and Patrick were in town earlier this spring, and we've been back a few times since. Everything I've had was delicious...creamy burrata, truffled mac & cheese and fish & chips...it's all so good! I've only been for dinner, but they do serve lunch and dinner too. They've also got another location at Somerset House, where London Fashion Week/end is held (I'm actually going this weekend!)
The Big Easy in Chelsea offers a taste of Southern cooking with fresh lobster, steaks, BBQ chicken and all the trimmings. We've been here several times and always leave happy. They've got a great deal on Thursdays where you can get a whole lobster or surf & turf with a margarita or beer for £20.
Granger & Co. has become a recent favourite for breakfast and dinner. It's in a great neighbourhood on trendy Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, and it has an airy, open floorplan which makes the space really inviting. The owner is Australian so he brings this cuisine together with British tastes to offer really good, inventive dishes like corn fritters & bacon or coconut cream cake. 
Bocca Di Lupo is an Italian restaurant in the West End near all the theatres, so it's perfect for a quick dinner before a show. They have really good Italian dishes served tapas style so you get a little taste of everything. My favourite dish was the broad bean (fava bean) paparedelle...it was such a creamy, delicious alternative to pesto. They also have their own ice cream shop across the street if you're in the mood for something sweet.
Polpo is part of a collection of Italian eateries in London and has a fab selection of little plates to share. It's in Soho and is always super busy so grab any seat you can...when I went I sat at the bar with a friend. They've got a large selection of wines from around the world, and the plates are small enough so you can try out a lot and not feel completely over-stuffed. I loved the chickpea, spinach and ricotta meatballs and arancini.
The Butcher's Hook is our favourite neighbourhood pub for a good, quick meal any night of the week. It's just a five minute walk down Fulham Road towards the Chelsea stadium and has a great, relaxed ambiance. The goodness here starts with the fresh bread & salty butter they serve while you wait for your meal. The menu changes every week, but they always have a roast, a veggie option and lots of good starters like fried Jerusalem artichokes. And every night of the week you can get a main course and wine or beer combo for £10. 
Burger Lobster serves just what it says it does: burgers and lobsters. Those are the only two things on the menu (both at £20) and they do it right. I must admit, the lobster is even better than the Big Easy's! It's a tiny restaurant in Mayfair so you can expect to wait an hour or more for a table, but it's really worth it. They also have another location in Covent Garden if you can't get in here.



[Images via Tom's Kitchen, Big Easy, Granger & Co., Bucca Di Lupo, Polpo, Butcher's Hook, Burger Lobster]

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Scenes from York


Last weekend we went up north to visit our friends, Tici and Felipe in York and it was such a good time. I thoroughly enjoy seeing different parts of the country and taking it all in, especially when most places are within a few hours by train. In my experience, a lot of British towns look relatively the same - you have the similar charms including historical buildings, lots of brick and a cute central high street. York was no different. It's very well taken care of with flowers and manicured lawns everywhere. And there these tall walls surrounding the whole city that you can walk along to get a good sense of the layout. There's also a huge 'minster' or very large church right in the middle of town that's well worth a visit (it kind of looks like the Notre Dame in the photo above). Near the centre of town, there is a quaint street called 'Little Shambles' where the buildings are sloped so low it's a wonder that they're still standing. I also loved the farmer's markets (and fresh fruit), tea houses and buzzing pubs all over town. We got pretty lucky with the weather as it was unusually warm for York....a welcome surprise especially in September.

One of the highlights of the trip was definitely the caipiroskas that Tici and Felipe made...they're Brazilian so they really knew how to make them properly with fresh kiwis, berries and lime (plus sugar & vodka). I learned how to make them too, so these will definitely be served at a cocktail party in the future! This prepared us for an epic night of dancing at a local club called Revolution which overlooked the river. Always lovely to be near the water. Overall it was a fab weekend with good people, good food and good fun!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Current Craving: Jewelry



I've been very into jewelry recently...maybe it's the Stella & Dot craze or maybe it's because I've stocked up on some shoes and clothes recently and now feel my accessories are lacking, but either way I've been looking for some gems. And since it's still kind of summer weather (sometimes, although London is rushing into autumn full steam ahead), I've been drawn to bright colours, namely peaches, corals and other bright hues in that first necklace. I love that it's called retro disco cowgirl! Since I can't buy them all, I'll sit on these selections for a week and see which ones I'm still coveting by the end...then I'll go for the purchase!



[Images via Shopbop, Everything Just Pure Lovely, Max and Chloe, Bauble Bar]

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Gruyere Asparagus Tart


Last night I made the most delicious and easy savoury tart filled with crunchy asparagus, gruyere cheese in a puffy, buttery crust. We also added a few mushrooms in between the asparagus, which added a yummy earthy flavour and I'd definitely experiment with other veggies on this as well since it's so versatile. The recipe is tried and true from Martha Stewart, so you know it’s good. Here’s how to make it...

Ingredients

- Flour, for work surface
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
- 2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Simply roll out the puff pastry dough with a bit of flour and place it on a baking sheet. Lightly score the dough 1/2 inch from the edges to mark a rectangle, pierce the dough at 1/2 inch intervals and bake for 15 minutes. Spr
inkle with Gruyere cheese, and top with trimmed asparagus spears laying horizontally across the dough (alternate ends and tips). Brush it with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Bake it for another 25 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy hot!




[
Images via Martha Stewart]

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Croatia: Hvar, Korcula & Dubrovnik

Clear blue water and not a cloud in the sky...Croatia was an incredible paradise holiday to end our summer travels. I'd never really thought of going there before we moved to London, but we'd heard so many people say great things about it that we just had to check it out for ourselves. It's similar to Italy and Greece with the relaxed vacation vibe and delicious food, but it also feels a bit exotic. Our trip started out in Split and we moved our way south through the islands of Hvar and Korcula, and then down to Dubrovnik. 
The view from Hotel Amfora...it's got an amazing pool for lounging and cocktails!
Our first day in Hvar, getting ready to hit the town and then the Pakleni islands
Our hotel had a path that led all the way to Hvar harbour where there's tons of cute shops and great restaurants. Our fave was Dalmatino...you MUST go if you're there! They make the best homemade gnocchi and Jim said the steak was amazing
We took a water taxi out to Palmizana, a small island off the coast of Hvar with a rustic beach, clear blue water and a cafe where we grabbed lunch and a beer
This is the Korcula harbour, the second island we visited. Love the red rooftops and palm trees!
Enjoying the gorgeous view of the mountains and the sea before a pizza lunch in Korcula's old town
Dubrovnik was our last stop, and these breathtaking views were worth the climb up the fortress walls!
My handsome husband posing in the old city
I obviously had to colour coordinate with the buildings...

The fortress has amazing views of the ocean and city. It's also dotted with historical artifacts like these canons
 Cooling off from the 34C degree weather on one of the waterfront bars tucked in the wall of the old city

Here are a couple of travel tips if you're heading to Croatia anytime soon: Note that the ferries only come in and out of any city or island once a day so plan your trip accordingly. If you're going from Split down south, the ferries will be in the evening, whereas if you're coming from Dubrovnik, they'll be early in the morning. It's relatively cheap everywhere on the coast especially compared to Italy or Greece, so a trip won't break the bank. The food is pretty delicious and you'll find pizza and pasta everywhere you go - I loved this part! You could probably spend 2 or 3 days in any town or island you visit and feel like you've seen it. One thing that seems appealing is taking a boat cruise along the coast so you can visit more islands...I've heard that Vis and Mljet are really nice, and I'm sure there are loads more. As for timing, we went at the end of August and it was hot and semi-touristy. I'm sure June and July are very busy as well, but I think May and September would be less crowded and temperate. 

We're taking a little break from traveling for a month or so, so this is the last jetsetting post for a little while. Until next time!

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