Monday, 30 March 2015

A touch of colour

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top - kin by John Lewis, skirt - & Other Stories, bracelet courtesy Anna Lou of London

I had the day off on Friday and spent it shopping with my mum. We had a lovely time, lots of chatting, trying on and a long lunch putting the world to rights.

I don't go shopping very often, so when I do I tend to drop quite a bit of cash. This trip was no exception! I'd feel bad, but I try to go with a list, and I was pretty good at not falling to my usual traps (stripey tops and party dresses), and instead I did fill a few gaps in my wardrobe. This outfit is all new - the top is Kin by John Lewis, which I am a big fan of, and the skirt is & Other Stories. I wear a lot of skirts and most of them are skater style, which I love, but when it is windy I end up, errr, flashing my knickers rather more than I'd like. And ideally I'd like to not flash my knickers at all!

This skirt is the perfect windy day skirt. The fabric is really thick and heavy, and there is no risk of accidental exposure. The top is a welcome bit of colour into my blue, black and grey heavy wardrobe. I like that it is smart enough for work and relaxed enough for the weekend.

Other than the above outfit, I also picked up a new pair of work shoes, a new leather jacket (!!!), and a new work skirt as well. Now I need to go not spend any money for a while!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A picture of the week

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Hello, my name is Harriet and I am obsessed with my slippers. Oh-em-gee these things are comfy!

I mentioned before that I got a few cheques for my birthday, which was a total surprise as I wasn't really expecting any presents beyond something from my parents and James. My old slippers were looking pretty worse for wear, and given I have terrible circulation and am incredibly cheap with my heating, they are something I wear every day. I've been gazing covetously at my sister's Ugg slippers for a while, and she really rated them for warmth and longevity, so I indulged and picked up these babies on Friday.

My feet feel like they are encased in clouds! I pretty much haven't taken them off all weekend. They were not cheap (£80), and it does seem like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a pair of slippers, but oh I do not regret it for a second. I am pretty sure I have already convinced the rest of my family to buy themselves a pair, as I cannot stop going on about how good they are! The one piece of advice I would give if you are thinking about them yourself is to go up a size, as there is so much fluff in the slippers, my foot didn't even fit into my regular size.

Now excuse me I need to go sit and wiggle my toes for a while...

Monday, 23 March 2015

Reupholstered chair

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Ahhh - isn't she pretty?

This is my baby - an Eames (original, I think) chair, which was recently returned to me from the upholsterer, looking good as new with a gorgeous new grey wool seat.

To begin at the beginning, I bid on a pair of similar Eames chairs in an auction nearly 2 years ago, and not quite knowing their worth my bid was way under what they ended up selling for. I was a bit disappointed, but you win some, you lose some, and a couple of months later my dad turned up at the door with this beauty, from another auction he had seen online. Thanks dad!

She was a lot worse for wear at the time, as you can see below

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The seat was coming apart and the fabric was old and stained. For a few months my poor chair was relegated to 'the cat chair' and so ended up covered in cat hair as well! Insult to injury I know, sorry chair. I finally got around to contacting upholsterers in January this year, and found The London Chair Collective who were super friendly and really reasonably priced. 

I chose this grey bute fabric, because although I liked the yellow it was before, I figure the grey is more versitile, and so if in future I move the chair around my house it will go with whatever room it is in. When I mentioned my cats Carol, the upholsterer who worked on my chair was able to make a brilliant cat cover, which is just an elasticated slip cover in the same fabric, but it means the actual seat is protected from fluff and little claws, which is a huge relief given how much they tend to claw my other furniture.

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In total the work cost £250 + fabric cost, and about £150 for the chair itself. Not a cheap buy, but in total I don't think it is dissimilar from what you would pay in West Elm or John Lewis for a decent chair, and I absolutely love it, so for me it was worth the investment.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. brilliant inspiration for my leather jacket hunt 2. Can you believe these are dolls house furniture? So perfect. 3. This house is a perfect mix of country and modern 4. Jen has some great tips for London on a budget 5. One day I will make it to Stockholm, but for the moment Sandra's guide will have to do 6. Cookbooks to help you save money


Happy Sunday! I am looking forward to a four day week this week, as I've taken the day off on Friday to spend it shopping with my mum. Can't wait! I'm on the hunt for a new leather jacket, after my cats shredded the sleeve on my beloved topshop biker jacket during their clawing phase. I've had the jacket for about 5 years, and got good wear out of it - pretty much every weekend it came out with me through spring, autumn and winter. The right leather jacket is something which just looks better with age though, so I am sorry to see it go.

This weekend we went to the wedding celebration of a friend from work on Saturday, which was fun. She's much much more hip than I am so I was a bit concerned we'd totally stick out like a sore thumb, but everyone was lovely, and there was a good crowd of accountants to hang around with!

Today James' parents are coming down for a belated birthday celebration, so there will be more cake - hurrah! I think that finally marks the end of our birthday celebrations though, time for the cards to come down now alas


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Instagram Lately

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I don't do an instagram round up too often on here, as I figure there's a little box in the sidebar anyway, and most people who follow me on here and want to follow me on instagram hve probably figured that out by now!

But on the off chance you haven't hopped over to instagram to follow me there (and you want to!) I am whereisharriet over there too. I post bits and bobs from my weekends mainly - food, travels around London, selfies and a lot of photos of my cats. You have been warned!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Anna Lou of London

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I was asked by Anna Lou of London to be an ambassador for their brand, so you might see a few of their pieces popping up on the blog over the next few months. They kindly sent me a couple of beautiful spring bits and bobs to try out - the lucky rabbit earrings and the forget me knot bangle.

I've been an Anna Lou of London fan for a good few years now - as a teenager I loved their fun acrylic monogrammed jewellery (the purple diamante H necklace which I got for maybe my 15th birthday remains a firm favourite!), and now their more simple gold, silver and rose gold pieces are more my thing.

The bangle is a teeny bit too big for me, which is a shame, but an issue I have with a lot of jewellery (I have the hands and wrists of a tiny child, dammit!), but both items are really pretty, dainty pieces, and feel like great quality. I am wearing the bracelet anyway, becasue it is too beautiful not to, and just crossing my fingers it doesn't fall off!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A picture of the week

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Spring is sort of wobbling into existance here in London, with some beautiful sunny days interspersed with a return to the cold weather, just when I was getting used to it!

This week was mine and James' birthdays (his is the day before mine!) so celebrations were had and much cake was eaten. It was a relatively quiet one, we both worked and then we went out for dinner on his birthday, and had a dine in for 2 on mine from M&S - perfect! I'm 28 and wasn't really expecting any presents or anything, as I feel a bit old for all that now. The mantlepiece is covered in cards, which is so lovely to see, and Reda made me some amazing chocolate truffles, and James got me a new Moomin mug to add to my collection. 

I was very surprised and pleased to get a few cheques in the post as well, so they have gone in the 'buy Harriet something nice' fund, which is looking pretty healthy now! I've booked a day off work in a couple of weeks to go shopping and have a day out with my mum, so I shall probably do some damage then!

All in all a very lovely week!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Brunch Bunch

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I mentioned in my Sunday post that I spent much of my Saturday enjoying the sunshine with Becca and Reda. Becca lives in Glasgow so we don't often get to see her, and I feel like whenever I meet up with my school friends we all have so much to say that we are just talking non stop over each other to get it all out! It's such a great friendship to have.

We went for brunch at Caravan in Kings Cross, which I have been wanting to try for a while. Of course like any trendy place in London now you can't book, but we arrived at ten and got a table straight away. A few times during our meal I saw a bit of a queue build up but never a huge one. Kings Cross used to be such a no-go area of London when I was growing up. Even when I was at college there a few years ago the most exciting it got was a Pret and a Nandos, so it's really nice to see it being regenerated.

But back to the food. The brunch menu at Caravan is awesome. I usually go for something safe like a full English or pancakes or something, and they do have a few 'normal' brunch foods, but it is just such an exciting menu why would you pick those?! I had a pumpkin waffle with baked ricotta, maple syrup and pecans, and Becca had a Kimchi pancake with pork belly and a fried duck egg. Reda went for the Jalapeno corn bread with fried egg and black beans. It's brunch, but not as you know it.

All of them were incredibly pretty to look at and even better to eat! My waffle was utterly delicious and really filling. My only slight complaint was perhaps it wasn't as warm as I would have liked, probably due to the massive open space the restaurant is in, meaning it probably took a while to get from the chef to me! 

Including a couple of rounds of coffee, tea and a virgin bloody mary for Reda it came to a not crazy £18 each, including service. If you can drag yourself out of bed for it I would highly recommend a trip.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

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Over the past few years I have come around to cooking, but baking is still very much beyond me. I can count the number of sweet recipes on one hand. And most of them had heavy involvement from other hands than me. The Peanut Butter Cookies were dreamt up by James, and the Rhubarb and Orange Cake from a few years back was my sister's idea.

These bad boys however are all mine.

They came about due to a work bake off competition, being held today (wish me luck!) for Comic Relief. I was looking for a recipe therefore that was incredibly easy, but looked and tasted impressive. I counted out any recipe involving custard or caramel (too difficult!) and eventually settled on brownies. Everyone likes them, even a child can make them, what could go wrong?!

Then I was told the competition had a theme. It being comic relief the theme was 'being funny for money'. So not only did I have to bake, I had to make it funny as well! You are probably looking at the photos in this post thinking 'I don't get it, how are these brownies funny?' Well rasberries look like red noses, thats how, don't question me, baking is stressful.

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The recipe is another BBC Good Food inspired one. Here's what I did.

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100g milk choclate, broken into chunks
250g salted butter
400g light brown sugar
4 eggs
140g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
200g raspberries

These are probably the most expensive brownies anyone has ever made. Well, someone has probably made gold leaf brownies in which case these are not, but as a non baker I owned nothing apart from some plain flour left over from pancake day, so had to buy everything including the baking tin. The website recommended a 20x30cm tin. I bought a 23x23cm tin and also filled the bottom of a loaf tin, although that took ages to cook so I would recommend just doing what the recipe says!

First I prehested the oven to 160C fan (180C non-fan) and lined the tin with baking parchment, using a bit of butter to stick it to the tin. Then I melted the butter, chocolate and sugar in a pan, stirring continuously until it was melted as I was a bit afraid of it burning, and all my hard work (and money!) being for nothing! once it had melted into a thick chocolate sauce I took it off the heat and cracked the four eggs into the mxture, mixing them in as I went. There may or may not be a bit of shell in there too, but don't tell the judges.

Then I seived in the flour and cocoa, again mixing it in as I went. Finally I mixed in about half of the raspberries, transferred the mixture to the tins, and scattered the rest of the raspberries on top.

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I cooked the brownies for 30 minutes, which was perfect for the large tin to get the perfect gooey brownie consistency, but the loaf tin ended up being a bit thicker and taking another 20 minutes. I put a tinfoil hat on it (lesson learnt in the bakeoff) to prevent it burning.

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Once cooked I left them on the side to completely cool, and following the instructions from one of the commenters on the original recipe I put them in the fridge before slicing them, to make it easier. I am not expecting these to be prize winning brownies, but I am pretty chuffed with myself! The centres were gooey but not falling apart, and the raspberries contrasted perfectly with the sweetness of the brownie. If no one else wants them I will happily eat the trayful!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. Love the style of this shoot, and the fact the model looks really grumpy! 2. This house is perfect 3. As is this one 4. A collection of lovely videos 5. This pizza looks epic 6. A brilliant guide to East London from Kristabel

This weekend has been a little slice of perfection. James has been away on a stag do, and while I obviously love having him around(!), having some time to just be by myself has been lovely. A chilled Friday night in front of the computer, eating junk food from the freezer, followed by a deliciously sunny Saturday spent brunching with Becca and Reda (more on that later in the week!) and just sitting and feeling the sunshine on my face.

I am definitely a bit of an introvert, and while I absolutely love spending time with people and being sociable, I also really need time by myself to recharge my social batteries. I had three networking events this week in the evenings, and while they went fine (well, apart from one where one of my bosses caught me sneaking out when I'd just had enough... oops!) it was too much for me all in one week. I've never been one of those people who has something on every single day, and loves to be around people 24-7 - I need some down time. Having time to clean and organise my house, write the week's blog posts and chill with a book or netflix is an essential part of my weekend.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Morning After // Night Before with Tokyo Laundry

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outfit 1 - top courtesy tokyo laundry, skirt - american apparel, bracelet - vintage,

A couple of weeks ago Tokyo Laundry offered to send me a couple of pieces of knitwear, which given how freezing it has been recently was just what I needed. I have quite a few big jumpers, which are great for throwing on top of everything else when I am cold, but I was looking for some more fitted woolens which would look a bit less like I was just wearing every single item I owned in an attempt to stay warm.

I ended up picking the Paloma jumper in black, which is a more dressy jumper with floral cut outs in the sleeves. I wore this to cocktail making and dinner for my friend Amy's hen party on Saturday evening. I wasn't staying on for the evening as I had to head home, so it was the perfect jumper for a nice dressy afternoon/evening. Thesecond item I picked was the Reya Whortle Berry jumper in dark denim which I am afraid to say has become my new hangover jumper! Or at least my slobby-weekend-but-actually-looks-nice-enough-to-wear-out-of-the-house jumper! It's probably my fave of the two. It feels so comfortable, but it actually looks reasonably smart and fits great.

Both jumpers look much nicer in real life than they do on the website, and I think Tokyo Laundry are missing a trick by not including shots on models on their website, as the fit and colours are lovely and you don't really get a sense of their shape on the site. I haven't washed them yet, but the fabric feels really nice and soft, and although they are both very reasonably priced, I am hoping with decent care they will last well.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Wardrobe Clear Out

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I've been on a bit of a spring cleaning kick, and despite originally thinking I would leave my wardrobe until the weather got a bit better, and I could take unwanted items straight out of my wardrobe and off to a car boot fair, it was driving me so mad I ended up just going for it on Sunday morning.

Above is the before situation. James and I both have one Ikea Pax wardrobe each, which have been a really good buy. I like how customisable they are, so we both have slightly different set ups on the inside, but they look neat and matching from the outside. I have a rail across the top which is where the majority of my clothing is, two baskets down the bottom, which start out neatly ordered but as you can see quickly descend into chaos. There is also a shelf right at the top for handbags and hats, but it's a little bit too high for me to reach, so I don't have much up there. I also have a separate chest of drawers in the spare room, which still needs dealing with at some point. But that's a job for another day.

If I bought it again I think I would swap out the baskets for drawers or shelves, something I could add dividers to so my clothes wouldn't end up in quite such a mess. As it is they do fine though, they just need sorting every so often, and I can't really use the bottom one anyway as the cats have taken it over and created a nest down there which invariably ends up covered in cat hair.

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The first thing I did was to take out the things I knew I definitely didn't want. Mainly clothes which were totally worn to pieces, were mistake purchases in the first place (but old enough my guilt has died down enough to see it was time for them to go!) and things that just aren't my style any more. For me this was really old tired workwear, Peter Pan collars and a few nicer pieces that for whatever reason just didn't work. A sleeveless black dress for example, which fits nicely, but I never have an occasion to wear.

I could have taken everything out and looked at it one by one and decided stay or go that way, but actually ridding my self of the easy items first meant I already felt like I had been successful, and it gave me a good boost to keep going.

At that point I did take everything else out of my wardrobe, and started putting things I knew were staying back. This again was relatively easy - my extensive collection of Breton tops, an excessive number of party dresses (lesson learnt - I do not need any more party dresses!). I ordered everything in groups - evening wear - weekend wear - work wear, which for me is the best way to organise my clothing because I have such a big divide between my workwear and my weekend wear. The only thing that really crosses over between the week and the weekend for me are cardigans. If I didn't have such a divide in my wardrobe I would probably order by clothing item (dresses, skirts, tops etc) but I find it so much easier to put an outfit together when I order it this way.

This left me with the most difficult task. Sorting through the maybe items left.

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Interestingly the largest maybe category was clothes that are old and worn, but that I need, so I can't get rid of them until I buy replacements. Mainly some old worn out work clothes. In the end I had to make a note of these and put them back in my wardrobe. At least now I know what I need to replace, I'll get rid of them as and when I pick up replacements.

The hardest maybe category was the more recent purchases that I just haven't worn. Honestly a number of them were things I bought when out shopping with my mum - she is a terrible enabler and loves to shop! Again, lesson learnt - when shopping with my mum I need to go in with a list, or I will come home with a load of things I don't need!

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The end result - ahhhh - much better! Everything has more space to breathe, is hung on nice hangers (not grotty metal ones from the dry cleaner!) and the baskets are limited to my work out wear and pjs in the top one, and my gardening/DIY clothes down the bottom for my cats to sleep on! Basically everything which doesn't matter if it gets crumpled.

I also know exactly what I need to put on my shopping list. Weekend and workwear skirts, cardigans, summer dresses and coats. No more stripey t-shirts and party dresses! Well, I'll try...

This post was very inspired by Katie, Lily and Bri's own wardrobe clear out posts - so definitely check them out if this has got you inspired!