Saturday, 30 July 2011

Homemade in London

I know it's been a while since my last post, but I haven't been abducted by aliens or opted for a 'couch potato' lifestyle.  I have actually been signing myself up for a few 'crafty' classes such as a beginners knitting class (which I shall blog about once I've finished my first masterpiece) and a beginners sewing class which is the focus of my blog post today.

I subscribe to a handful of deal websites that offer you various experiences at a fraction of the price such as theatre tickets, dining or minor cosmetic surgeries.  80% of the time, I find myself deleting these deals but occasionally I am drawn to them and when I saw an offer for a beginners sewing class with champagne and cupcakes for half price I jumped at the chance.

 The class was to be two and a half hours long at Homemade London.  I called the store to secure my place on the class and warned the lady who dealt with my call, about my absolute lack of sewing skills.  She laughed and reassured me that everybody who books a place on the beginners sewing class is convinced that they're sewing skills are the worlds worst but upon leaving, they realise that they're skills are not quite so bad.  This left me feeling quite excited.

 So here I am nervous yet excited, walking towards Homemade London (and they have other workshops besides sewing).  I am greeted by a pretty white shopfront with brown craft card made to look like huge luggage labels with details to entice passers by.

Inside was a workshop area with 7 or 8 sewing machines, various spools of colourful thread, bundles of pretty ribbons and buttons here and there.  There was also lots of patterned material scraps and an ironing board at the back.  My nerves relaxed and I began to feel rather eager to get stuck in.

There were already a few people there who were also attending the same class as me.  I was greeted by a woman who was friendly and accommodating she introduced herself and another tutor who would be teaching us.  She allocated me a sewing machine and showed me a selection of thread, material and ribbons I could chose to work with.  The other tutor went around and made sure we were all ready to begin. 

Both tutors were very helpful and explained each step clearly.  I never felt intimidated or under pressure and at one stage when I felt as though I was falling behind, one of the tutors came over and offered me necessary guidance and reassured me.  Once we were all finished, a tin of buttons was passed around, should we like to add a little detail of some sort to our creations.

 We were treated with champagne and beautifully iced cupcakes which definitely broke the ice.  I left feeling like I had actually learned something.  I left proudly clutching my little masterpiece.  A little drawstring bag that I made by myself with little help from the tutors.  Something that I thought would be unachievable.

 Gone are the days where I look at my own sewing machine as if it's a monster in disguise.  Perhaps now I can attempt to wipe off the inch thick dust and actually use my sewing machine for ... well ... sewing and it's all thanks to those at Homemade London.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Sealed With A Kiss

I'm sure I don't need to explain the nature of my post today as millions of people worldwide have been eagerly anticipating this day since the announcement of their proposal in November 2010.  And it was definitely worth the wait.

Prince William wore the uniform of colonel of the Irish Guards, as well as his Royal Air Force wings.

Catherine (more commonly known as Kate) Middleton looked every ounce the perfect bride.  Her dress was made by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

The lace on the bride's dress detailed a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock, and was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace.  The bridal train measured just 2m 70cm which according to some reporters was quite short considering it was a Royal Wedding.  Her delicate veil was held in place by a Cartier 'Halo' Tiara lent to Kate by The Queen and her earrings were a gift from her parents.

After their perfect ceremony at Westminister Abbey they left in a beautiful horse drawn carriage, reappeared upon the balcony of Buckingham Palace and kissed twice which was just what the crowds were waiting for.

They were seen once more as Prince Will drove his blushing bride to Clarence House in his father's convertible Aston Martin decorated with floating balloons, red, white and blue ribbon and a "Just Wed" sign.

I feel like this is the first time that I have been able to thoroughly enjoy a Royal Wedding as I was just four when Prince Charles and Princess Diana wed. 

Today is an absolutely fantastic day that will of course be remembered forever.  Everything about it was positively breathtaking and its something as grand as this that makes me proud to be British.

Pictures courtesy of BBC London and Vanity Fair

Monday, 11 April 2011

Orla Kiely for Tesco Greener Living

Gone are the days when we thought nothing of repeatedly using plastic bags to cart home our shop bought goods.  In recent years awareness regarding an environmentally beneficial lifestyle has been raised worldwide.  According to nonprofit organisation We Are What We Do, only one in every 200 bags is recycled and plastics can take up to 400 years to break down in a landfill.

Many retailers encourage customers to reuse bags in exchange for reward points or a small amount discounted from the total spend of the bill. 

Reusable bags are becoming part of popular culture, thanks to a handful of companies that have been churning out stylish varieties.  The choice of is immense.  Cotton, canvas, jute, woven, non woven, laminated, compostable, you name it they've got it covered.  Reusable bags are becoming part of popular culture, thanks to a handful of companies that have been churning out stylish varieties. 
 In fact popular designers have created their own style of reuseable bag as a way to reduce plastic bag usage.  We Are What We Do collaborated with Anya Hindmarch in 2007 to create an unbleached cotton bag with "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" printed across it.  It originally retailed at £5.00 and sold out within an hour of going on sale in Sainsbury's stores.

In February 2010 Swedish company H&M launched a collection by french designer Sonia Rykiel which included a black cloth shopper bag.  A small donation from the sale of each of these bags was made to UNICEF project "All For Children", which promised to protect and improve children's lives in areas of cotton cultivation in India.


This year Tesco joined forces with Irish Fashion Designer Orla Kiely to design an exclusive range of bags which retailed at £4.00 and for each bag sold, a contribution of 50p of the sale price was divided equally and paid to CLIC Sargent Cancer Care for Children and the Royal College of Art.  The Scribble Pear design is the first of a range, which will follow on next year.  These bags were only available at Tesco Extra Stores and having asked the store manager himself to hold one back for me as soon as they came in delivery, I was informed that only 20 Orla Kiely bags had been assigned to each store and although the range had officially been available since December 2010 he still had not received his batch.  Luckily 3 weeks later I would be the proud owner of my very own Orla Kiely Scribble Pear bag.  Sad as it may be I am anticipating the launch of the next reusable bag as I am an avid fan of Orla Kiely.

So the lesson for today is?  Stop using plastic bags and reduce your carbon footprint.  Get your hands on a reusable bag of your own and feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing your doing your bit for the environment.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Brush I Can't Live Without

There are few things I can live without but ... (ok that's a lie but I thought it'd be a good opening line haha) this is a brush that I use in my daily make-up routine.  Introducing the #187 duo fibre brush by MAC Cosmetics (retailing at £31.00GBP)

It is used for blending face powder and pigments but I use it after applying my liquid foundation.  The end result is a perfectly flawless finish.  I find that lightly buffing my skin in a rapid circular motion gives me the best results and is also a great way to gently massage my skin and wake me up in the morning.  MAC Cosmetics also have a smaller version of this brush - #188 small duo fibre brush (retailing at £28.00GBP) which I also own.  I tend to use brush #188 for detailed blending around my nose and eyes but I also use this to blend my eyeshadow or blush.

It is important to mention that this brush should be used with lightweight pressure to perfect your make-up as opposed to actually removing it or running the risk of looking as if you've been dragged through a bush backwards (disclaimer: please note I am in no way shape or form knocking those who favour this look).

Both of these brushes are made from a soft blend of goat and synthetic fibres and fit perfectly in a standard make-up case (thank goodness).  
I've often been told whilst using it at a photo shoot that the sensation of the brush rapidly buffing the skin makes people feel very relaxed, so much so that they sometimes feel as though they might fall asleep.

Lots of other make-up brands have their own version of this brush, such as Becca Cosmetics and when I was in Paris a few years ago, I recall seeing a brush like this one in Sephora but I'm not sure if they still have this in circulation.

Well, anyway thats about it from me.  If you own this or a similar version of this brush, I'd really be interested to hear your opinions on it but if not I'd still love to hear from you.

Til' next time ...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Maison Sweet Maison

Last week I had an urge to gallivant (a skill that I am known to have mastered from a very young age) and headed down to London's famous Oxford Street.  After a few hours of browsing I felt I needed a little hit of sugar and headed for one of my much loved department stores - Selfridges.
I'm often found in one of three particular departments - 'Beauty' (which entices you with the likes of products from Shu Uemura, Giorgio Armani, Trish McEvoy and more), 'Womens Street Fashion' or Stationery / Confectionery.

I headed straight for the latter as I was yearning for a taste of some good quality chocolate.  Don't get me wrong, I wont say no to a stick of Kit Kat or a bit of a Twix fix once in a while but there really is nothing like good quality chocolate and seeing as  La Maison du Chocolat had just opened up a  counter stocked full of decadent treats, the temptation was just too much to resist!

There was so much to choose from and I couldn't decide.  The expert behind the counter must have noticed my indecisiveness and offered his assistance which was greatly appreciated.  I told him I longed for something different as I tend to sway towards a milk chocolate ganache or dark chocolate pralines.

"Garrigue".  He replied confidently.  "Ganache infused with Fennel.  It is one of my personal favourites."  Now I'm not really a fan of the vegetable but I was guaranteed I would be pleasantly surprised.  And pleasantly surprised I was.  It was absolutely divine!!  The texture was as smooth as silk and the taste?  It was heavenly.  The fennel infused with the creamy ganache was a perfect marriage.  Not too overpowering but subtle enough to detect.  
I was hooked and decided to make a purchase.  I decided upon 'Garrigue', 'Cannelle' - Indonesian cinnamon matched with a robust Sri Lankan Cocoa, 'Yoko' - ganache flavoured with Black Tea, 'Quito' - a plain bittersweet ganache and 'Micaela' - a milk chocolate mousse infused with rich coffee.  Two of each to share with my beloved Grande Soeur.  The assistant placed each chocolate into a cellophane bag with a pair of bamboo tongs and sealed it with a signature sticky ribbon.  Anybody who knows me, knows I love, love, LOVE ribbons so by the time my purchase was complete, I felt like I was walking on air.

When Grande Soeur tried the Garrigue ganache she too was pleasantly surprised but told me she felt the fennel infusion was a little too subtle but delicious nonetheless.  Grande Soeur has always had a real love for cinnamon so I knew Cannelle would be her favourite out of all the flavours.

I have since, recommended La Maison Du Chocolat to those who have a similar appreciation for good quality chocolates but even if you haven't ever experienced the likes of this chocolatier, I strongly suggest you try one.  They don't come cheap but you get what you pay for in my opinion and they sell their chocolates by weight so you can buy as little or as much as your heart desires.  The assistants  are very professional and a great help if you simply cannot decide what to try.
 There are four stores within London, details of which can be found on the La Maison Du Chocolat but they also have an online boutique so you really have no excuse.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Message In A Bottle

How cute is this??  This is the 'Trovare Necklace' from All Saints.  It has two small glass bottle pendants attached with a tiny message in each and comes on three black oxidised chains.

 'Trovare' is an Italian word.  According to it means 'to find, come upon/across; meet (with); think, believe; catch, discover', such as discovering a message in a bottle on a deserted beach.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a larger picture of the two bottle pendants but for a close look just click here.   

This necklace currently retails at £30 at All Saints and they are currently offering an extra 25% off all purchases but I am not sure when this offer ends.  

Get the message? 

Main image sourced from 

Friday, 19 November 2010

A Thing Of Beauty Is Definitely A Joy Forever

What you see here ladies and gents is a limited edition NARS Bento Box containing two highly pigmented shades of lipstick; the red - Kabuki (like the dramatic Japanese dance) and the pink - Sakura (the Japanese word for Cherry Blossom which is a flower often found in East Asia).  Included is a Kabuki lip brush made from Wisteria, for precise application.

Sold exclusively at London's Selfridges at £95 a pop (yes you read right!), I fear I shall never get my frost bitten mitts on this object of desire!  Unless of course, I rob a bank which would be completely unsuccessful since adrenalin and I definitely do not mix.  My other option could be to hang out at the Selfridges NARS counter like a bad smell until they give me one and have me escorted off the premises, which would also be a bad idea because after pulling a stunt like that they may put a life long ban on my butt!

*sigh* One can but dream

... till next time ...