Thursday, 23 April 2015

Blue Suede Shoes

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When Duo offered to send me a pair of shoes for spring my initial thought was they were not for me. I knew them as a company specialising in wide fitting shoes, and having freakishly narrow feet (I struggle with any regular shoes which don't have an ankle strap or laces to keep them on my feet) it seemed like a company which would not be a good fit - pun intended!

However a quick trip to the website made me realise they also offer a number of narrow fitting shoes - my holy grail - and I quickly fell in love with these pretty blue Malin loafers. They arrived last week, and I took them out for a spin on the weekend when James and I had a classic 'date night' - dinner and a movie in Greenwich. Safe to say I am very happy - they fit beautifully, the colour is gorgeous, and they make a plain old jeans and breton outfit look that little bit more special. I can definitely see myself investing in a few more of the Duo narrow fitting shoes in the future.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Make Up Lately Three

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This is the makeup I've picked up and been using lately. It probably represents what I've bought or been given over the past three months or so, with the exception of a few repeat buys which I haven't included as you will have seen them a million times before.

Make up is definitely a shopping weakness of mine. My mum is forever berating me for going shopping and coming home with nothing but nail varnish! I'm no beauty blogger so I am trying to avoid the temptation to buy lots of the same thing (nail varnish and lipstick are definitely the biggest temptation for me) but to stick to looking at my collection and only buying things to fill gaps.

Anyway on to the products! From left to right:

Nivea Sensitive Day Cream and Night Cream I always seem to come back to Nivea for skincare. It's what my mum uses so it was what I was brought up with, and I always know I am going to get a decent product for a very affordable price. It isn't a very trendy brand, but I've tried so many expensive products and really not seen any more improvements on the budget highstreet brands, so I am sold on these two.

Too Faced Teddy Bear Powder Brush For a good few months I owned powder but no powder brush, so this brush definitely filled a gap. The Makeup Alley reviews were good, and I loved the design so I ended up asking for this for Christmas. Thus far no complaints! It's great for all over face powder, picks up the right amount of product and is really soft. Plus no stray bristles so far. 

Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection - Tapered Blush Brush This was definitely a bit of a whim purchase, mainly because these brushes are so damn pretty! They are much more expensive than the original collection - this was £24, which is more than the original Core Collection which had four brushes. I tend to use this style of brush a lot though - for powder, blush and concealer, so my excuse is I will definitely get use out of it. Thus far I really like it. I'm sure you could get something just as good for better value, but equally it is pretty and I don't regret the purchase.

Seventeen Stay Time Concealer I think I have had one of these in every Make Up Lately post so far! It's a great concealer for shadows and dark circles, and this plus mascara is what I wear on a no-makeup-but-I-have-to-go-out-somewhere day. Plus it is really cheap!

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation This foundation has been featured (and loved) by pretty much every beauty blogger I follow, and I can see why. Again it is really affordable, has a great consistency and coverage without being over the top. Alas even the lightest shade (light vanilla) is a teeny bit too orange for me, and as I don't tan ever I don't think even in the summer this will work for me. I'm using it up at the moment but I don't think I will repurchase, although I really want to.

Essie Nail Polish in Cute as a Button I couldn't not sneek a nail polish in! Essie are definitely my fave brand, I find them really nice to apply and long lasting. Cute As A Button is definitely going to be my spring shade, it's so pretty and bright but not too bright.

No. 7 Stay Perfect Mascara Another repurchased favourite, and the only mascara that doesn't give me panda eyes. I went to buy this from one Boots, but they have them just out on the floor and they only had a couple  in stock, which weren't in any plastic wrapping or anything. I am probably being overly fussy (I think the shop assistant thought I was!) when I asked her to see if she had a fresh one in the drawer, but I just didn't like the idea another shopper could have opened and touched the makeup I was about to put on my eyes. I had to go to another Boots in the end to find one that was fresh out! Is this ridiculous or sensible? I can't decide!

Valentino Valentina Eau De Parfum This was a Christmas present from James and is one of my favourite perfumes. I am using it sparingly! The bottle is just the most beautiful thing, and I love having it sat on my dressing table.

Bourjois Java Rice Powder I have wanted this powder for a while, mainly for the packaging I will admit, which is based on the original packaging when Bourjois was first founded in 1863! This is a slightly shimmery powder and a little difficult to apply (I cannot figure out the best way to get it out and on a brush without making a mess!) and following reviews I tried it out as a highlighter on my cheekbones and down my nose and chin. At first I didn't really see anything close up, so I sort of ignored it and went about my day. I kept glancing at myself in mirrors though (I'm vain like that) and thinking 'wow, I look really well today!' and it took me a few times to realise it was the powder! It gives a really nice healthy glow to the skin, without being at all obvious. Definitely a thumbs up!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. the monsters of Sofia 2. to Sophia Loren's villa in Italy 3. These tiny cinemagraphs are perfection 4. when in doubt add cats 5. blue is my favourite colour 6. I have become ballet obsessed lately

Happy weekend! This week felt endless at times, after my Easter Holiday and two four days weeks suddenly having to make it from Monday to Friday felt impossible! Bring on the May bank holidays already please!

I had my first book group on Thursday night - unfortunately only three of us turned up! We had a good time though, drank too much wine and discussed everything from work to politics and a bit about the book we had read in between! On Friday I had drinks at work to celebrat a colleague's promotion, where I may have agreed to attend a ballet class with someone, who I later found out went to ballet school instead of normal school as a child... I last went to a ballet class when I was eight so I might just be a little outclassed!

This weekend James wasn't working on Saturday (he now works 2-3 Saturdays in the month) so we celebrated with a date night - and went to GBK for dinner followed by A Little Chaos at the cinema. Kate Winslet & Alan Rickman in a period drama - perfection! It takes me back to the 90s and Sense and Sensibility and all the period dramas I loved then.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

An ode to the leather jacket

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jacket - jigsaw, skirt - topshop

This is what my birthday present from my parents ended up being. I'm pretty much in love. A leather jacket comes pretty high on my wardrobe staples list. I bought my old leather jacket about 7-8 years ago from Topshop, for an eyewatering £100, which for student me was an insane amount to spend at the time. I remember wearing it to lectures on the first day I got it with a denim skirt and a breton top, only to find my best male friend at the time was literally wearing the exact same outfit as me (well, jeans instead of a denim skirt) - a seriously mortifying moment!

I wore that jacket pretty much every day to uni though, and every weekend except in high summer once I started work, so the £100 turned out to be an excellent investment. It would have lasted me a fair few more years if I hadn't come home to find one of my cats hanging from it by its claws one day last year... the sleeve was absolutely shredded! I could have cried!

Given it had a good life though, it did give me a bit of an excuse to go shopping, which led me to this beauty in Jigsaw. Jigsaw is a shop I am going to more and more at the moment. It is great for work clothes, and although it's not cheap the majority of what I have got from there has been great quality. This jacket was a bit more than £100 (I'm choosing to blame inflation!) but I am hoping it will prove as good an investment as my last one. Kept safely away from the kitties in my wardrobe now of course!

I went for a grey-blue colour as opposed to traditional black as it looks a bit more unusual - softer and more feminine,  but still neutral enough to go with everything I own. I really hate the term 'buttery soft' but in this case there is not really any other way to describe it. I keep forcing my friends to stroke my arm - it's just so soft!

Monday, 13 April 2015

2 Willow Road

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One of the things I did while I was on holiday last week was to visit Hampstead with my mum and sister. I hadn't been before, and it is definitely somewhere I'd like to go back and explore more. We had a stroll round Hampstead Heath in the sunshine, and then popped into 2 Willow Road, a National Trust property just on the edge of the Heath.

I was keen to visit after reading about it in Emerald Street - Stylist magazine's email newsletter, which is a great source for suggesting new and different places to go and things to do. I'd highly recommend signing up.

I've become a bit modernism crazy at the moment. It's a bit of a blogger trend I know, but I just love the style. The house was built and designed by Erno Goldfinger in the late 1930s, and he lived there for about 50 years with his family. It caused uproar when he first sought planning permission, being so different to the houses on the street. Ian Fleming hated it so much he named the Bond villain after him (thanks Becca for that titbit of information)!

It's only a little museum/house, and we were probably only in ther half an hour, but Hampstead is a lovely place for a day out if you want to make the trip. I wasn't supposed to take photos (which is something I do normally abide by, promise!) but the sign was really small so I didn't realise until I got told off. I assume it is because his amazing artwork collection is copyright protected, but on the basis I didn't take any close ups of the art, I have posted the ones I did take above. 

The one thing I was a bit disappointed with was the furniture. The architecture was amazing, the artwork was amazing, but the furniture was kind of blah. Other than the amazing desk in the top right! Still definitely worth a visit if you are in the area though.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A picture of the week

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My little cat burglars kitties have taken a liking to my hair elastics recently, and have a habit of stealing them from my bedside table in the early morning and then playing catch with them on the wooden floors before hiding them away somewhere. I rumbled their original hiding place (a suspicious bump under the rug in the living room) but since then they have gotten too clever for me and I genuinely have no idea where they are hiding them all. I am 99% sure they haven't eaten them, but I am starting to get a little worried...

Thankfully they seem less interested in my chunky acrylic lips hairband (to big to hide... or munch...) from Anna Lou of London (another perk of being a brand ambassador for them at the moment!) so I foresee a lot more of their funky hair elastics in my future!

Today is alas the last day of my holiday, and it is back to work tomorrow. I've had such a chilled week, done a lot of cleaning, but a fair old bit of relaxing and seeing family and friends too.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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I was in the mood for a light and summary soup, to celebrate the warmer weather here in London, and also get me back on the straight and narrow after a few too many weeks of indulgent eating. I settled on red peppers as my vegetable (or are they a fruit? Not sure!) of choice, and invented this simple recipe.

Ingredients

3 large red bell peppers
1 small red onion
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk
2 cloves garlic
1 pint of stock (whatever you have to hand)
any other red coloured veg you have available (I had a sweet potato so in it went! Carrots would also work and preserve the colour)
olive oil
chili flakes
mixed herbs
seasoning

I started by quartering and deseeding the peppers, brushed them with olive oil, and roasted them in the oven for about half an hour at 180 degrees, until they were just turning black at the edges.

Meanwhile I diced the onion, garlic and other vegetables and started to gently fry them in a large pot, over the stove in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

After about 5-10 minutes when the onion was soft I added the pint of stock, along with chili flakes, mixed herbs and plenty of seasoning. I covered the pot and left them to simmar away for a further 10-15 minutes.

Once the peppers were done I let them cools for a couple of minutes then cut them into small chunks (skin on), and added them to the pot, along with the coconut milk and tinned tomatoes.

I covered the pot and let it simmer for another 10 minutes, before taking it off the heat and allowing it to cool, so I could blend it.

Once blended  it made about five generous servings. Normally I prefer quite thick soups but this was a bit thinner than my usual soups, as I wanted it to have more of a light and summery texture. The coconut milk adds a great creamyness to it, and the flavour of the peppers really came through. Definitely something I will be making again!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Get a Hobby

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I recently had a bit of a lightbulb moment when I realised I had no hobbies. Other than blogging, I mostly spend my spare time seeing friends, looking after the house, shopping, eating, playing games and general 'chillaxing' activities. But actually creating things? Doing something worthwhile to the point where I'd actually remember what it was a few days later? Not so much.

I may have ovedone it a bit by going from no hobbies to all of the hobbies (and according to my friend Rosie also aged 20-30 years in my choices! I pointed out she is bake-off standard at macaron making and sews all of her own clothes so she couldn't really talk!) but I pretty much looked around and went for the least life invasive options, so I would have some hope keeping them up.

My friend Emma started a bookclub, so before I had time to change my mind I said yes and borrowed the first book from the library - The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. By reading it on the train to work I have nearly finished it in a week, and used my commute for something more worthwhile than another game of Spider Solitare (my greatest weakness). I am really enjoying it - definitely a light read (the last book I read was Wolf Hall, so a bit of a change!) but fun and cleverly plotted. Hopefully the book group will keep me motivated to read, and to read things I might not have picked up otherwise.

Probably the thing I am most proud of is learning to crochet. I am very uncreative, and knitting or any sort of craft is usually beyond me. But one of my colleagues Jo offered to teach me, and despite nearly giving up a couple of times I made it to the end of one granny square. The squares are going to be sewn together by Jo into a baby blanket for one of our other colleagues who is pregnant. I definitely want to try a project of my own now, something simple like maybe a blanket or a hat or cushion or something.

Finally I am trying to cook a bit more, after the success of my chocolate brownies.  I am on leave this week so I am planning on whipping up some freezer meals - some soup maybe?


I'd love to know what you consider your hobbies, other than blogging? In just a few weeks I feel like having a few activities has really enriched my life, and I am up for more!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. This photoshoot at salvation mountain is epic 2. At a wedding recently I had a very long discussion with another gust about slow cookers and was pretty convinced I needed to buy one. Bookmarking thse recipes for when I actually get around to it! 3. I love the colours in this Spanish home. Not a fan of the Mao poster though 4. These miniture drawings and paintings are stunning! 5. I am collecting city guides obsessively at the moment, hoping to plan a trip somewhere in the summer. Kristabel's Barcelona guide is awesome 6. I've never lived alone apart from a few brief weeks one summer in uni, and I've always slightly fantasised about the idea, even though I think I'd get lonely pretty much straight away

Happy Easter weekend! Hope you are getting a smidgen of sunshine and enjoying some time off! Our weekend is fairly busy - we saw friends on Friday for a long lunch and then coffee and rubix cube solving lessons (?!) at my house. Saturday we say my family and met my cousin's little baby Mollie for the first time. What a cutie. Then today we are heading down to Oxford to see James' parents for the night, before heading onwards on Monday to a wedding in the Cotswolds. 

I have taken the rest of next week off to recover! 

Have a great weekend xx

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Top Five Podcasts

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I'm a total podcast junkie, and thought I'd share my current favourite listening matter with you. I love anything in the humorous yet informative category. Just in time for the long weekend if you travelling somewhere and looking for something to keep you company! Mostly I listen to podcasts on long journeys, before I go to sleep at night and when I am ill or tired and just want something on in the background but doesn't require me to focus. I tend to fall asleep during the middle of them though, so I think there are a lot of episodes of all of these I have only heard the first ten minutes of. Often several times as I replay it the next night hoping I will get further!


This was one of the first podcasts I listened to, and the one that really got me hooked. I loved the first Freakonomics book when it came out - I am an accountant by day and economics fascinates me. I suspect I wouldn't like to study it, but these bite size episodes looking at everything from feminism to online dating from an economic point of view. I saved up the episodes and listened to a lot of them in India last year - sitting in the bath hideously jetlagged at 2am - unable to keep my eyes open but unable to sleep either! It seemed like the thing to do at the time!

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This is one I have only got interested in recently, but it's been around a long time and I don't know how I haven't come across it sooner. It's about design and architecture, and so far I have learnt about the history of barbed wire, the design of US bank notes and the palm trees of LA. Each episode is pretty short - no more than 25 minutes long, but they are fascinating little nuggets of information.

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This is the podcast from the QI elves, so as you would expect it is equal parts comedy and factual. Each of the four QI researchers who feature bring along their favourite fact of the week. They have started doing a live version, and I definitely need to make it down to see it soon, as I love them. It's really funny and entertaining as well as giving me the most random facts to help me sound smart the next day!

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Another long standing favourite of mine - answer me this is definitely more entertainment than factual, but it always has me awkwardly in stitches on the train when I listen to it in public! Helen and Ollie (along with Martin the Sound Man) are absolutely hilarious - answering listeners questions from random things they have always wanted to know to questions straight out of an agony aunt column. If you listen to any of these podcasts make it this one!

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Finally the most irreverent and funny of all my faves - Plumbing the Death Star answers all of your most asked pop culture questions, such as 'if you were to start a business with any Disney Princess who would it be?' (answer - obviously an ice cream shop with Elsa from Frozen) and How did New York cope before the Ghostbusters?

Happy Listening!

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