29 November 2015

Beauty | My New Hair

After having extensions in for the best part of this year, I finally had them removed last week and felt totally liberated. Feeling more than a little bold at the hairdressers I decided to go for the chop.

Hardly groundbreaking I know but after spending my entire adult life to this point trying to erase memories of the giant fringe I sported until the age of 10, it appears I decided that the right thing to do was cut one in. 

I loved how it looked on the day but I've already developed a massive love/hate relationship with it; it just will not behave! My manager is calling me Lassie and as for what happens when it's windy, well the less said the better!

I don't think I'll be getting it cut back in when I go back to the hairdressers but after having the same hair for so long it's so nice to have a change; no matter how temporary!

Do you have any tips for managing a wayward fringe?!

Vicky x

17 November 2015

Lifestyle | Take the Stress Out of Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping, two words to strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned shopper: suddenly there are more choices that ever before; should you buy the gift set or would they prefer just the individual fragrance? Does anyone even use the scented body lotions? Wait - what do you mean I get a free clutch bag with the set - SOLD! Bugger, what am I going to do with another clutch bag?! 

If you've never had the above conversation with yourself standing sweaty palmed in the beauty hall of any department store then you, my friend, have never truly been Christmas shopping.

I have a pretty haphazard approach to Christmas shopping, it's eternally hit and miss, but this year I decided that I wanted to take all of the stress out of shopping so that I could full enjoy the build up to Christmas and that's exactly what I've been able to do.

image source: Google

Lists are your friend
When you go food shopping, you make a list (well, you should, even if it's just on your phone) and Christmas shopping should be no different. Make a list of all of the people you want to buy presents for and then make a list of what you're buying for them, this will help you with the next point.

Budget - this applies to time as well as money
For me, the key to the success of my Christmas shopping this year (which I'd finished before November *insert sassy emoji*) was that I budgeted not only my money but also my time. Just in the same way that it's easy to over-spend, it is just as easy to over-shop.

Once you know who you're buying for you and what you're buying, you can allocate a budget for each person and make sure you stick to it! There's no point in setting a budget if you're just going to rip it up and ignore it.

When it comes to budgeting your time, set time aside that is solely for Christmas shopping. For example, if you're going to put a Saturday aside to do the bulk of your shopping then that is what you need to do. When you have a clear idea in mind of what you're looking for, and as you've made a list you should, then you'll know which shops you need to visit and plan them around your local high street/shopping destination.

Buy online 
If you start early enough then you can do the bulk, if not all, of your Christmas shopping online. This was the first year I purchased most of presents online and it really was a weight off my shoulders: no queuing in stuffy shops whilst laden down with shopping bags, shifting them agitatedly from one arm to the other because they're too heavy, no viciously swiping people's kneecaps or ankles on the tube with the obnoxiously large Dove gift set that my mum wants every year and no rush to grab the last item on the shelf.

Another bonus of Christmas shopping online is that there's often discount codes floating around or online exclusives and it's always nice to be able to gift someone something they've never seen in store before.

Take advantage of in-store gift wrapping services
I hate wrapping presents with an unrelenting passion. It is my least favourite thing to do. I'm terrible at it and I find it the most stressful part of the Christmas shopping process so where possible, if a store offers a gift wrapping service then take advantage of it! At Christmas a lot of stores will offer this as a complementary service but sometimes I just have to splash out and pay them to wrap it for me, I mean £3 is a small price to pay to maintain my sanity. 

Most online retailers will also offer complimentary gift wrapping but I rarely do this, just in case something just broken in transit. I like to look at what I've bought before I gift it. If you're not quite as peculiar as I am, then gift wrapping is a great way to relieve unnecessary stress.

If you're hitting the shops, be prepared
With the plastic bag tax now in force, make sure you take plenty of bags with you; if you have loyalty cards then make sure they're in your purse, not only will you notch up points for next year but you might have enough on there for money off your shopping and don't forget your list(s)! 

All in all following the above steps really took the stress out of my shopping this year, I've loathed Christmas shopping for the last few years and found it a complete and utter chore but this year it was a breeze and now I feel like I can really enjoy the build up to Christmas and all it has to offer because I've got the most challenging part out of the way.

What are your top tips for stress-free Christmas shopping?

Vicky x

15 November 2015

Fashion | New Look Premium: New Dancing Shoes

Okay so dancing shoes might be overshooting it a little but "sitting down and admiring" shoes just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Not only am I a fiend for a pair of shoes but I'm a complete magpie so I was drawn instantly to these shoes: it would have been hard to miss them, they stood alone against a sea of black boots on a single plinth in New Look Marble Arch. If that's not a sign from the shoe heavens, I don't know what it.

I absolutely adore New Look for shoes, not only are they cheap but they wear really well and some of my favourite shoes of all time come from there so when I spotted the "Premium" label inside these, I was curious. At £49.99 they're pretty pricey by New Look shoe standards but they are so beautiful. The finish is superior to the normal New Look range and the design is far better than I've ever seen in there before. They'd easily rival Kurt Geiger.

New Look describe their Premium range as being carefully crafted with a unique design and being finished with premium grade leather. Having spent quite a bit of time examining these shoes in the shop (side note - am I the only person who will happily drop a few £££s on something like Russell and Bromley because it's expected and then forensically examine New Look as soon as there's a price hike?!), I can confirm this is definitely the case. 

With a bronze metallic finish, divine multi-tonal jewel strap detail, an on-trend super thin heel and zip up back, I can see these being my go-to heels for Christmas and NYE already. I'm already planning on what to wear them with for a Christmas party I'm going to and I think they'll be a huge talking point - I'm even considering buying the silver pair for next summer.

You can buy them online here or in selected New Look stores for £49.99.

Have you tried anything from the New Look Premium range yet?

Vicky x


9 November 2015

Shopping | The Ultimate High End Christmas Wish List

With Christmas just around the corner (okay, it's over a month away but given how quickly this year has gone it'll be here before we know it!) I thought I would compile my ultimate if-money-was-no-object wish list of all of the high end things that would be on my Christmas list.

Max Mara Cashmere Coat in coral - £2945.00 
I am obsessed with coats anyway but this coat from Max Mara really caught my eye with it's cape style sleeves, belted waist, superb tailoring and beautiful colour.

Mulberry Bayswater Double Zip Tote in mole grey - £1500.00
It was love at first sight for me when I saw this Mulberry bag. An update on the classic Bayswater with its structured shape it is both practical and professional. The ideal work bag investment.

Rolex Lady-Datejust - £5650.00
A good watch is an investment and this classic Rolex would be a wonderful investment. The ideal accessory to any and every outfit.

Jimmy Choo Cinderella Slipper - £2995.00
Each Cinderella 'slipper' from Jimmy Choo is custom made to perfectly fit the foot of the person wearing. With over 7000 Swarovski crystals and 46 embroidered stones, no other shoes would befit a Princess quite like these.

Azzedine Alaia Andalouise dress - £2000.00
I first discovered Azzedine Alaia dresses when I worked at a super-high end department store and I've been obsessed ever since. With dresses coming in north of £2000.00 they're anything but cheap but the silhouette created by his designs mean that any Alaia dress is a piece worth owning.

Make sure you keep an eye on the blog in the coming days and weeks to see what is REALLY on my Christmas list this year and what I'll be buying for other people.

What would be on your ultimate Christmas wish list?

Vicky x


6 November 2015

Recipe | Greek Salad Turkey Burgers

Earlier this year I shared with you my pesto and mozzarella burgers and whilst November may now be upon us I refuse to let go of my love for salads yet even I can acknowledge that more substantial food is required at this time of year and that is where my Greek salad turkey burgers come into play.

Turkey burgers are one of my favourite things to make as a quick meal after work as they are so quick and easy and provide such a flavourful meal - one of the best things apart turkey mince (apart from it being low in fat) is that you can really season it and make it taste delicious as it isn't as overpowering as a red meat for example.

You will need 
  • Turkey mince (I use a whole pack - this recipe makes 6 burgers so you can freeze some)
  • A red onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic 
  • Dried oregano 
  • Dried dill
  • A chunk of feta cheese
  • A handful of sundried tomatoes
  • Cucumber, fresh tomatoes and olives (optional)
  • A burger bun (I opted for a piece of ciabatta bread)
  • A pot of Greek Yoghurt (I like Yeo Valley)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Half a lemon

1. In a small bowl combine the Greek yoghurt with a tablespoon of dill and a teaspoon of minced garlic, I used minced garlic from a jar for added flavour. Mix until combined and set aside.

2. Chop half of your red onion and your handful of sundried tomatoes, season with salt and lemon juice and set aside.

3. Place your mince in a large bowl and season well with salt and black pepper. Add in a teaspoon of minced garlic and a teaspoon of your dried oregano. 

4. Add your chopped onion and sundried tomatoes to the mince and crumble in half of your feta cheese. Use your hands to mix until everything is well incorporated.

5. Take handfuls of the mix and shape into burgers, pressing them down to approximately an inch thick.

6. Heat your grill and when it is sizzling hot, add your burgers and cook, turning occasionally. I used a George Foreman grill and found it to be the easiest way.

7. Whilst your burgers are cooking, quickly chop up a side salad using the traditional elements of a Greek salad: cucumber, the remaining red onion, tomatoes, the remaining feta and olives if you like them. Place in a small bowl and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of oregano.

8. Slather your ciabatta in your Greek yoghurt mix and top with a burger and salad. Enjoy!!

Do you like turkey burgers? What is your favourite flavour combination? 

Vicky x


4 November 2015

Lifestyle | #MyPoppy with Buckley London

This year an estimated 45 million people are expected to wear a poppy and the Royal British Legion have asked people to share why they wear a poppy using the #MyPoppy hashtag.

This year, I purchased my poppy from Buckley London (you can see their full poppy range here) and they donate all profits from the sale of their poppy collection to the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. 

The slogan for the campaign this year is: to the memory of the fallen and the future of the living which I find incredibly poignant. Having spent time volunteering for the Royal British Legion I have been able to see first hand the support they provide to those who need it most.

Everyone will have their own personal reasons for wearing a poppy, or for choosing not to, but I choose to wear mine for my Grandad - an incredibly brave and proud man; and for those who served alongside him, before him, after him and those who continue to serve in our Armed Forces and rely on the support of charities like the Royal British Legion.

There's the story behind #MyPoppy - what's yours?

Vicky x

PS - just incase anybody thinks this is in any way sponsored or compensated because I've linked a shop, it isn't. I've had so many comments and compliments on my poppy that I wanted to share the source with you all.


2 November 2015

Restaurant Review | Gin and Jam Afternoon Tea at Hush Mayfair

On Saturday my friend Lucy and I had a much needed catch up. We both love afternoon tea so it was the natural choice of activity and as between us we've probably covered half of the venues in London we set about finding a new venue.

I've been to Hush once or twice for after work cocktails and it's a real secret gem, nestled away between Brook Street and New Bond Street, it's actually directly behind Victoria's Secret but you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of some of London's busiest shopping streets. 

Afternoon tea is served in the Silver Room and as we had quite a late booking many of the tables had been dressed for dinner and there was only one other party there so it lacked the usual ambiance of afternoon tea somewhat but that didn't deter us.

As we'd booked using the London Festival of Food offer we had two cocktails instead of one with our tea for the usual price of £35. The cocktail menu was pretty succinct with only five offerings but the menu in itself was absolutely stunning on gorgeous heavy paper that shone as the light hit it. With my wedding planning course underway I instantly thought it would make beautiful invitation paper.

We were presented with a house cocktail to start that was called something like "The White Rabbit" (I can't remember exactly) and it was Hush Boutique Gin and strawberry jam amongst other things. I love a gin cocktail and this really hit the spot. It was a little strong but that doesn't bother me too much! I also loved the presentation of the tea cup on the wine glass stem - very quirky.

There was a great selection of food on offer with four different types of sandwich: chicken and tarragon on sourdough, cucumber and butter on white bread, egg mayonnaise on brown bread and salmon and cream cheese on wholemeal; two scones each with fresh clotted cream and a selection of jams including strawberry, gooseberry, cherry and apricot; four mini macarons and an earl grey creme brûlée each.

It doesn't look particularly appetising but the chicken and tarragon was by far and away my favourite, I could have quite happily eaten a whole tray of them on their own!

From the selection of six teas I chose the Emperor's Tea, a black tea with vanilla and spice. Given how warming and comforting it was I found it to also be refreshingly light and easy to drink.

When it came to picking our second cocktail from the menu I went for the Paddington Bear: Hush Boutique Gin, amaretto, orange juice and marmalade (obvs) and it was delicious. It came served in a titchy little jam jar with a piece of candied orange and it was just wonderful.

The service from the team at Hush was excellent, the fact they only had two tables to cover may have played a part in that but I honestly can't fault how friendly and helpful they were. 

I think I'll be going back to Hush soon to try out their dinner menu or their bottomless bellini bruch!

Where do you like to go for afternoon tea?

Vicky x
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