Christmas Giftguide / Wishlist

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Unless you've been hibernating (let me in on the secret if so) then it's pretty hard to escape the fact that CHRISTMAS IS COMING. We've had the John Lewis advert, the Oxford Street lights turned on by the B-list celebs of the moment and Halloween feels like an age ago already (although my head and wardrobe are still stuck in late summer and that's probably not going to change). Whether you are a "most wonderful time of the year" type or more of a bah humbug-er you are definitely going to have to give, and hopefully will receive, some gifts. I have put together my wishlist, which also acts as a gift guide for gin-loving, city-dwelling, mid-twenties girls (ahem) because I really have no idea what your mum / dad / second-cousin-twice-removed wants for Christmas. I don't even know what a second-cousin-twice-removed is, maybe they'd like vouchers?

And, remember, kids: it's the thought that counts. This time of year always seems like a bit of a frenzy of eating, drinking and spending, all mixed in with a side of FOMO and a tinge of disappointment that your Christmas wasn't like the John Lewis advert (although this year that seems unlikely unless we all morph into penguins) or that you didn't get a puppy / a diamond ring / Benedict Cumberbatch in your Christmas stocking. Remember that whatever you do give, they will love it regardless (although that isn't ever an excuse to buy someone socks) and that whatever you get you will smile graciously and do you best Kate-Middleton-opening-a-children's-home face because there are people having a far worst time of it than you not being bought something you wanted (if you're an employed adult you can probably buy it for yourself, yes?). Ok, back to the materialism we go...definitely not thinking of Cumberbatch and stockings...definitely not... 

1. Gin Advent Calender 

An early Christmas present but this really is a gift that keeps giving all month long and you can't say that about some of the truly awful items that the shops are trying to make us believe are "Christmas gifts". One of the best things about being an adult is that you can skip the weird aftertaste advent calender chocolates for a daily bottle of gin with Master of Malt's Ginvent calendar. These might be useful when seeing the John Lewis Christmas advert for the bazillioneth time, for helping to wind down after a long day of enforced merriment or for a pre-party tipple. If you or your giftee are not a gin fan there are also whiskey, vodka and rum versions here.

2. Barbour Scarf

Shopping for clothes for others rarely works out well (sorry, daddy, but mummy did not like those yellow shorts) but a scarf is never going to be the wrong size for anyone and who doesn't like a tartan scarf? It's cold outside and this Barbour tartan number will keep me / you warm well into 2015. This is probably the only gift on my list that a boy would probably like too.

3. Dressing gown

If, like me, you're increasingly swapping FOMO for JOMO (joy of missing out, kids!) and feeling all the better for it then you're going to need some decent JOMO attire. This DKNY dressing gown is super cosy without being granny-ish and along with Netflix and almond milk hot chocolates forms an essential part of the "survive January and February" kit.

4. Statement Necklace

Statement jewellery is always a good gift choice - again, it's not fraught with having to pick a size and statement necklaces are still everywhere and there really is something for everyone. This Accessorize necklace is perfect for the party season and will look great in dreary January and February over a simple black roll neck. It's also a perfect price point if you're doing a Secret Santa or are on a tight budget.

5. iPhone case

My poor iPhone 4S has definitely seen better days and I have my eye on an iPhone 6 for a little self gift in the new year. My new purchase will obviously need protecting against life in my handbag and this Lanvin case is a super cute way of preventing it getting knocked around too much. Perfect for gifting too if you're shopping for a designer fan but don't have the budget - tech accessories are often the most affordable way of getting a label fix and it's something you can use everyday.

6. Benefit Feelin' Dandy Lip and Cheek Kit

Make up would usually fall in the same category of clothes i.e. just don't bother trying to buy it for someone else but this Benefit set features some of the brand's most popular products in suits-all shades. Perfect for busy girls and for after work touch ups - Posie Tint is one of my favourite benefit products and it's even sweeter in miniature size.

7. Kiehls Creme de Corps

I love giving luxe versions of every day products - something that someone wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves but would use every day is often the best sort of gift. This cult body cream from Kiehls is a holy grail for a lot of beauty bloggers and it's the perfect antidote to dry winter skin. The packaging means that it definitely won't get banished to the back of a dusty cupboard along with the "smellies" giftsets which just scream "I bought this on Christmas Eve".

8. Louboutins

I know, I know, I've already said that wearable purchasers are fraught with "what size" difficulties but let's say you already know someone who owns a pair of Loubs, say, in a size 37.5 and has tried on all the styles and knows which ones she likes? Well, these red soled beauties would make one hell of a Christmas gift and the Pigalle style are a true style classic that can be worn year round. Or maybe just kept inside for a bit to admire the beauty of an unscuffed red sole.

9. Lush Spa

Stepping right back from the cliff edge of materialism but studies have shown that we actually derive more happiness from experiences rather than things. I can't argue with science and think that the scientists would approve of a Lush Spa voucher for a deep tissue massage - perfect for dealing with the January blues and getting some me-time after the party season. Vouchers are often seen as cop-out gifts but if they're for something specific they can be great - especially if someone already has everything and lives in a tiny little flat and really doesn't have room for anything else.

10. Made Cushions
You've officially arrived in Grownupsville when home furnishings make it onto a Christmas list. Whether you are kitting out your own place or bringing a personal touch to a rented home these cushions will definitely brighten things up with their nautical-but-nice designs. How adorable is the yellow porthole?

What's on your Christmas list? Share your gift guides and wishlists in the comments below...

A Tasty Weekend in the City - Polpo and Granger & Co

Monday, 17 November 2014

Warning: this post contains egg porn*.

Another weekend. I feel like the busier the weeks, the faster the weekends come around. I have no issue with this as I appreciate a weekend far more after a manic week but it still terrifies me how quickly the time is passing although the speeding by of the weeks means there's no time to dwell on things past and worry about what's coming next (and thank goodness for that, it's exhausting). Especially when you have a lunch date at Polpo with (some of) the best girls ever for our Burger Queen's birthday. 

And not a burger in sight! Our waiter explained that the concept of Polpo is sharing plates, we completely ignored this concept and all ordered what we fancied. Even friends do not share food in my books and only child tendencies are a hard habit to break. I started with a gin, cucumber and basil martini - I've only just got to the stage where a lunchtime drink no longer feels delinquent but doesn't quite feel necessary, a good stage and a very good drink. I had the goat's cheese bruschetta which I had had before and loved. The menu also features pizzetta, meatballs and fish dishes so there's something for everyone and if you do share you can have quite a feast! I passed on the other savory dishes because I knew I had to have the chocolate salami for dessert and it did not disappoint - perfectly rich without being sickening and with a sprinkling of sea salt on top. This was definitely one of those "if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life..." moments.

And because there's no such thing as "too much chocolate" I couldn't resist a slice (and a photo) of my friend S's birthday cake later in the afternoon - Malteasers, KitKats and Milo in one cake.

On Sunday morning I went for a run and had to take another picture of the Tower Poppies, beautiful, poignant and a site that I won't tire of seeing until it gets taken down. I ended up running 10 miles in the end, along the river and around Hyde Park, taking in the sights and the autumn leaves. 

A coffee (not a Christmas one because there is such a thing as too much sugar) in a red cup while I walked back from my run. Yes, it really is that time of year again.

I met my friend P for lunch at Clerkenwell's Granger & Co - somewhere that I'd wanted to try for ages, especially as its only a 5 minute walk from my flat. I had the courgette fritters with a deep fried egg (ahhhmazing) and halloumi. P had the ricotta hotcakes - Bill Granger's signature dish - with a side of bacon. I admired the cake table for my next visit and P had a hot chocolate (my mint tea was less photogenic). Granger & Co is in a beautiful deco-style building, there is Aesop hand wash and hand cream in the bathrooms and (unusually, for me) at least four other dishes on the menu that I just have to eat soon. I'll definitely be back.
*Egg porn: photographs of eggs at the height of their oozing, decadent lusciousness. NSFW (because they'll make you hungry and feel sad and dejected about the lunch you're eating at your desk).

Transport For London - The Year of the Bus

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

I feel like we might have reached peak "statutes of random things dotted around London" but I can't resist taking pictures of these Routemaster sculptures. There are a few trails around different areas of London - I'm not sure if I'm up for getting all of these (it's a little cold outside) but here are the ones I've seen so far on various walks / runs around the city:

You can download the trail maps here if you feel like a wander around London!

Outfit Post - Having A Ball

Monday, 10 November 2014

I had Friday off work because I had an invite to a ball in the evening and wanted my getting ready routine to not involve the work loos in anyway whatsoever. Taking a day off maybe sounds a bit excessive but how often do you get to answer the "got any Friday night plans?" question with "oh, just off to a ball!" Seriously, we need more balls in life (of the Cinderella sort, what else could you possibly be thinking?). I so rarely get properly dressed up and make a real effort - the getting ready is definitely just as much of the fun as the actual event.

I swanned around for the day, got my haircut (bye bye 5 inches of sun bleached ends) and got ready listening to Taylor Swift (hair and general life inspo). I grabbed my camera five minutes before heading out the door and snapped some pictures, old school blogger style. No photographer boyfriend, no DLSR camera, just my old point and shoot propped on a pile of books. Keeping it real here. I kind of miss the days when blog photos were just people standing around in their bedrooms, seems quite quaint now really.

I know indoor pictures are the enemy of the "professional blogger" these days but let me off for these please because I finally have curtains and furniture in my flat so my beautiful new chair wanted to be in the post too. It's from the Ercol Outlet and I'm almost too scared to sit on it (you know you're old when you have a furniture page bookmarked).

Dress: Monsoon Fusion
Shoes: M&S (oldoldold)
Ring: YSL
Watch: Vintage

Who run the world?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Last week I was in Waitrose, browsing the cake aisle (for those that don't know this blog well, cake and coffee are practically definitely food groups for me). I noticed firstly that the gingerbread men were reduced (possibly mistakenly) to 5p. This made me happy because I love bargains as much as I love cake. I also noticed that the other bakery offerings were "Mini Chocolate Men" and (un-pictured) "Mini Oaty Men" and "Mini Cinnamon Men". There I was thinking that it was impossible to find a man in London when all I had to do was go down to the Waitrose bakery aisle - look at them all lined up and waiting for me!

This got me thinking - where is our female representation among baked goods? Where were the biscuit women? How am I meant to strive for equality in the workplace if I am not represented in the bakery? I pondered this while biting the head off my 5p gingerbread man (while also noting that it may be symbolic that the men were "reduced" and that maybe I should present both sides of the argument here and wonder how this might make men feel).

This weekend in John Lewis, Mummy Lipstick pointed out this - Georgina the gingerbread lady. Finally some representation from the John Lewis partnership. A friend sent me this article about "organic genderless gingerbread figures" so I'm glad that some others have noticed this issue, and tried to address it in a way which is also inclusive for vegans. Apparently Reddit users do not feel the same way although I do not trust Reddit for looking like the internet used to look in 1999.

What do you think about gingerbread gender bias? Do we need more gingerbread women? 

(This post is meant to not be taken too seriously. Gingerbread people are yummy, regardless of which gender they are).

#BootTribe - Your Winter Boot Wardrobe

Friday, 7 November 2014

It's definitely getting wintery outside and its time to embrace winter boots. Whether you favour an ankle boot, a knee boot or an over the knee boot, there's a #BootTribe for everyone. I'm a big fan of the knee boot as its the best of the three tribes at working with both my work and play wardrobe. Since moving into a tiny flat I'm trying to have a capsule wardrobe as I only have space for hard-working pieces (and carrying around separate heels and flats is terrible for your back!).

I've picked out Duo's Avron knee boot as they're smart enough for work without being too office-y and definitely suitable for play with their hidden wedge heel.

For work:

Feeling a little bit 1970s with this outfit! I love wearing classic shapes in unexpected colours and this orange check skirt is perfect (it'd work well on weekends too with a cosy knit). I'm not a fan of matchy-matchy suits and always pick a contrasting jacket - this tweed blazer is great for a chilly office (or for a meeting). I've finished the outfit off (and kept to the 70s theme) with a cute pussy-bow blouse.

For play:

Aztec print is still going strong and I love this overlay dress (I was very tempted to buy it in Topshop last week for a winter pick-me-up!). A school style satchel adds a touch of nostalgia and is roomy enough for all your weekend essentials - this one is in the sale (it's the weekend so black boots and a brown bag is fine!). Finish the outfit off with a (faux) fur gilet - perfect for chilly days (just keep your fingers crossed that it stays dry...)

What #BootTribe are you in?

#AngelAddiction - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Today we're feeling fragrant. Thierry Mulger's Angel has been a classic fragrance since I was in my teens and first started using perfume (oh so grown-up!).

Angel's new campaign #AngelAddiction has got me thinking about what I can't live without, past memories and future plans - I thought I'd link these all to scents as a scent can often be the most powerful reminder of a time, a place or a person (the smell of Angel always makes me think of my friend, C, its her signature scent so I feel like a bit of a copycat wearing it!). I've been following #AngelAddiction on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where there is always inspiration and some fragrant escapism from a dull day!

Past: Not the most glamorous of scents but the smell of old library books takes me back to university days, despite the fact that really, most of my studying was done in front of a computer reading PDF journal articles but that doesn't have a nostalgic smell, does it? The smell of flowers is there for the summer just gone - one of the best ever - and all the memories from it. Interestingly, despite Angel being seen a very girlie fragrance it doesn't have any floral notes but my personal mood board needs some to balance it out!

Present: Coffee! I love the smell of coffee and it's kind of a life essential. Weekend afternoons spent sitting in coffee shops gossiping with friends or my myself with a good book are just the best. I'll have an iced soya latte, please (or a soya cappuccino with lots of chocolate on top if its cold).

Future: The future scent is unknown - but it involves travel, adventure and new experiences represented by the train tracks disappearing into the distance.

What scents remind you of your past? And what are your current favourites?