Saturday, April 18, 2015

Breakfast Club


My husband and I recently started waking up quite early so that we can have a nice breakfast and a bit of downtime before the day begins rather than rushing to shower and run for the train every morning. It's been a bit of an adjustment as crankiness ensues and bedtimes are now earlier than before, however I can say that for the most part, it has drastically improved the quality of our days. Just a few minutes of leisure before the rat race makes all the difference.

The one thing that's been missing from our routine is stimulation. The news, while very informative can be quite jarring first thing in the morning so I've decided that what we need is a nice playlist, something relaxing that will ease us into the day, but with a little oomph to wake us up and get us moving. I've heard wonderful things about listening to classical music in the morning and when I started making this playlist, that's what I was after, but something about it just didn't feel quite right. Classical music can be a bit dramatic for the early morning as well. Then I stumbled across some bossa nova type songs and I think they're perfect. Smooth, light and still a little peppy. So that's what this playlist is all about… It's a little jazzy, a little light and very enjoyable for starting the day off right. Best served with hot coffee, cold OJ and some bacon & eggs!

Friday, April 17, 2015

La Tasca Covent Garden Re-launch








La Tasca Spanish Bar & Restaurant in Covent Garden re-opened this month with a fabulous evening of Sangria masterclasses, delicious tapas an freshly sliced Serano ham. Boasting a fabulous menu of Spanish favorites and a buzzing atmosphere, this is the perfect place to enjoy a drink after work or a relaxing dinner of Spanish fare. Definitely try the sangria - it's a winner!

La Tasca Covent Garden is located at 23-24 Maiden Lane, a perfect location for pre-theatre diners or anyone looking for a great night out in Soho. 

GOSH Primer Plus

Primer Plus ℅ GOSH
It's officially Spring and while we'll all get very excited for many reasons including sun, fun, festival season and of course, Summer holidays, there is one thing about warmer weather that can be a drag… Melty Face! The warmer it is, the more we all suffer with make-up running down our faces and those horrible streaks that ensue. Yuck! I've lived in a few super warm places in my life and the trick I've found that always works is primer. A good primer is the enemy of Melty Face.

For ladies on a budget or anyone who simply wants to use a primer only as needed, you can't go wrong with GOSH Primer Plus. I've been using it for a few weeks and I've noticed a significant improvement in the staying power of my make-up. It's light, the scent is very subtle and it doesn't feel sticky or interfere with other products in any way. I simply apply this to my face before my tinted moisturizer and that's it… Super simple and my make-up stays fresh looking all day long.

GOSH Primer Plus is just £13.99 and available at Superdrug. It's a great beauty bargain and well worth checking out for a smooth make-up look all Summer!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Nautical Home

Villeroy & Boch Vase / Linea Basin Accessories / Butler's Napkins / H&M Tea Towel
H&M Candle / Butler's PlateALESSI Fruit Bowl / John Lewis Nautical Globe on Stand
For anyone who's ever been in my home, it's no secret that I'm obsessed with nautical home style. My table settings often include items that have fish, crustaceans or navy stripes on them. I love anything that looks like it belongs in a lighthouse. A slight nod to nautical in the home can be timeless, chic and cozy. I've always taken the approach for my home that I want it to look like a country house by the sea and even though my flat is in London, it works. Various shades of blue are calming, homey and subtle while a few pops of red, yellow or green here and there can keep everything from looking too mundane. Don't get me wrong… I don't want my home to look like a a funhouse version of a beach hut… It's actually quite the contrary, but I find that beach houses are generally designed in a way that is calming and serene, something that is very welcome after spending a day in the hustle & bustle of city life.

What's your home style? Do you find a certain type of decor or vibe draws you in?

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott 
I received Lessons from Madame Chic as a birthday gift from a very dear friend and from the moment I opened this book to the first page, I devoured it. Whether you're a Francophile or not, there are some valuable lessons and reminders in this thoroughly enjoyable book, particularly with regards to many things that I think we all tend to let fall by the wayside as we get older, busier and more digitally connected. Things like personal grooming habits, keeping an air of mystery even with our loved ones and daily civilized meals at the table are easy to let slip when we have hectic schedules. This book is a timely reminder of the importance of doing better for ourselves for no other reason than that we deserve it.

Though Lessons from Madame Chic is a non-fiction how-to book, there is a story in there of a young American girl who travels to Paris for a study abroad program and meets a cast of characters who influence her more than she imagined. When Jennifer left California for Paris, she had a wealth of experiences awaiting her as well as her host family, which she refers to as Famille Chic, an aristocratic, wealthy Parisian family whose matriarch in particular would shape the way the author viewed her entire life going forward. Other people in Paris also influenced the author including a professor and a more Boho Parisian woman she refers to as Madame Bohemienne.

Madame Chic and her family live what I think many would consider a very formal life. They opt for classical music instead of television, they eat 3 square meals a day at a table (not on the couch) with dinner being a multi-course affair every single evening. The whole family dresses well always - no running tights & Nike's for a trip to the supermarket or sloppy sweats at home - they are chic from dusk till dawn. What's more impressive is that the women profiled in the book both work, yet still find time to do literally everything from looking amazing to cleaning their homes themselves all while ensuring a homemade from scratch 3-course dinner on the table every evening. They don't hop in their souped up SUV's to collect the groceries at Whole Foods, opting instead for a walk to several independent shops daily and they don't pawn the ironing and laundry off on a housekeeper. This is not to say that the author condemns the use of a housekeeper or cleaner because she doesn't, but many people feel that they can't keep up and this book aims to point out that it may be possible with a few changes to our approach. With a bit of patience, planning and incredible organization, it seems that we really can do it all if we put our minds to it. Scott's observation of Famille Chic is very thorough and paints a portrait of a modern-day family living a life reminiscent of characters in a classic novel or an episode of Downton Abbey minus the downstairs staff.

I read a few reviews of Lessons from Madame Chic on Goodreads after finishing the book and I have to admit I disagreed with most of what I saw. People were slamming this way of life, discounting it as something that's impossible or too perfect. It seems that many people have viewed this book as a bossy dressing down of typical Western culture outside of France that gives directives of what we should all be doing better. I disagree entirely. I found Lessons from Madame Chic to be a clear-cut observation of a Parisian heroine who may be a tad more traditional that we'd all be comfortable with, but is in fact having it all while making it look effortless all the while. Isn't that what we all want? The job, the family, the perfect look and the Martha Stewart-like dinner on the table every evening?

Rather than being a book about should, I found Lessons from Madame Chic to simply provide realistic ways of how we could improve on our current lot, not just for a special occasion, but daily in a way that makes our lives, no matter how mundane, a bit more enjoyable and worth more on a moment-by-moment basis. There is definitely a feel of doing better for yourself in every suggestion by the author, even if it's only wearing your best clothes instead of saving them for a special day (that may never come). 

While reading Lessons From Madame Chic, I made some of my own changes… Admittedly, many of them were things I thought about doing for a long time, but the book gave me the kick in the pants I needed to actually go through with it. Among other things, I donated about 50% of my wardrobe to charity, including many pieces I hadn't worn in several years. I threw out every piece of clothing & accessories that was damaged or looking old and tired. I was holding onto things that looked terrible because people gave them to me because they were expensive. Though I'm not adopting the 10 item wardrobe suggested in the book, I'm definitely taking a much more quality over quantity approach to what I wear every day. 

I'd definitely recommend reading Lessons from Madame Chic for anyone who is looking for ways to balance the day-to-day, loves style, longs for a more Parisian lifestyle or wishes to be that girl with the joie de vivre that everyone is talking about. It's also worth noting that in addition to being a New York Times best selling author, Jennifer L. Scott also writes regular updates on her blog The Daily Connoisseur.

Bonjour!

Jennifer Meyer Earrings / Gucci Sunglasses / Coach Bag / Tod's Loafers
Equipment Shirt / Frends Headphones / Nails Inc. Nail Polish / Frame Denim Jeans
Lately I'm dreaming of Paris… Wish I could just throw these gorgeous pieces into a carry-on bag and hop the Eurostar today! What would you wear to best showcase your personal version of Parisian style?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tisserand Aromatherapy Signature Blend Rejuvenating Shower & Bath Wash

Tisserand Aromatherapy Signature Blend Rejuvenating Shower & Bath Wash
I've heard amazing things about Tisserand, so when I spied the Signature Blend Rejuvenating Shower & Bath Wash at T.K. Maxx, I just had to try it. Anyone who's a fan of lavender will love this product. It's the perfect body wash for waking up in the morning, but strangely enough, it's also relaxing enough to use at night. Lathering, moisturizing and smelling gorgeous, this is my new favorite shower gel and I can't wait to try other products in the range!

Do you have any favorite Tisserand products you'd recommend?

One Piece Wonderland

Top: Paolita / Dolce & Gabbana / Lisa Marie Fernandez / heidi klein / La Perla
Bottom: Melissa Odabash / Rachel Comey / Tory Burch / Etro / Michael Kors
These aren't your mamma's one pieces and I for one am glad that the anti-kini has gotten so much more stylish in the past few years. It's not that I don't love a bikini, but I think there's something very vintage-chic about a fabulous one piece suit, not to mention that they're often more comfortable too. No worrying about a muffin top in these beauties… Just fun in the sun! Now, which one is your favorite? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tangle Teezer - My New Favorite Thing

Tangle Teezer Original 
I met my husband for a date at his gym in the city a few weeks ago because he had a complimentary guest pass. After he bragged and bragged about the sauna, steam room and hot tub, I was excited for a relaxing evening after work. He called me while I was walking there and said, "You're gonna love the showers - they have Molton Brown products and GHD hair dryers!" at which point I panicked. I had brought everything except a hair brush or comb, which would make drying my tangled, dry hair a nightmare. Oops! I popped into Boots and decided to finally invest in a Tangle Teezer. My hairdresser swears by them and I'd always wondered if they really work. Well, they do!


In fact, the Tangle Teezer is a long-haired girl's best friend. No pulling, tugging or sounds of hair snapping as it breaks off. This thing takes me from tangled hot mess to brushed out smooth in just seconds. It also fits easily in my bag, making it perfect for travel or days spent running in heels. While I don't think this would be great for blow drying (there is actually another Tangle Teezer brush for blow drying), I do use it for styling my hair sometimes when it's dry and it's become a staple in my daily beautifying routine. At just £10.99, the Tangle Teezer Original is a beauty bargain worth getting your hands on. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chocolate Tasting With Seed and Bean

 

A tiny smidge of dark chocolate is my favorite way of staying on track without giving up everything. To be fair, I'm not really a dieter, but I do try to refrain from stuffing my face with Reese's Cups. I tend to opt for either homemade sweet treats, fresh fruit, something from a local bakery or a bit of fancy dark chocolate when time is a luxury, but my sweet tooth is screaming. I fell in love with Seed and Bean shortly after the Whole Foods opened in Fulham when I purchased both the Lavender and Cornish Sea Salt varieties. They're so lush and since they're organic, Fairtrade, sometimes Vegan and always handmade in England, I don't feel one bit guilty about eating them. In fact it's a rare moment when I don't practically congratulate myself on the purchase of a Seed and Bean bar - after all, this isn't your kids' Cadbury bar. This is serious chocolate… Grown-up chocolate and I keep it on hand whenever possible for moments of weakness or just pure joy.

Seed and Bean boasts a long list of interesting flavors, so I set out to taste a few more...

 Extra Dark Chocolate
Seed and Bean Organic Extra Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is something I use a lot at home, whether I'm nibbling on it, throwing it into savory dishes or using it in my baking. I tend to be a bit lazy sometimes and buy whatever I can find in the grocery store thinking that chocolate is chocolate, especially being mixed in with other ingredients… Seed and Bean is proving that I've been wrong all this time.


72% Cocoa and yet I'm surprised at how smooth the Seed and Bean Extra Dark Chocolate is. It would be no trouble to sit down and eat the whole bar in one sitting, although I couldn't stop thinking about how yummy this chocolate would be in a batch of homemade brownies. There's a rich, depth of flavor in this chocolate without the typical bitterness that I haven't tasted elsewhere. It's a winner!

Raspberry and Vanilla Creamy White Chocolate
Seed and Bean Organic Raspberry and Vanilla Creamy White Chocolate
Typically I shy away from any chocolate with a fruit in it… I don't always enjoy fruit that's been altered from its natural state by cooking, drying, etc. however for the sake of this post, I gave the Seed and Bean Raspberry and Vanilla Creamy White Chocolate a try. What most surprised me, having bought similar bars from other brands for my husband, was the color.


Pink! Pink! Pink! Love the pretty blush tone of this chocolate - it's so inviting. The flavor is lovely… Super sweet white chocolate with hints of vanilla broken up by the sharp, sour punch of raspberry just when its needed. Though this wouldn't normally be my favorite as I tend to crave bitter or savory more than sweet, it's incredibly lovely.

Just Ginger Fine Dark Chocolate
Seed and Bean Organic Just Ginger Fine Dark Chocolate
This one probably scared me the most… I spent some time trying to work out what the combination of ginger and dark chocolate would be like in a candy bar. I couldn't come up with any idea that was close to the taste of this lovely bar of chocolate.


To be fair, I couldn't really taste the ginger, but compared to the Extra Dark Chocolate, there is a difference in flavor. All I can say about this is that its lovely and even if you're not a fan of ginger (I don't love it), try it anyway… It's more of a complement than something overpowering and it gives a warmth to the chocolate that's impossible to describe. A chocolate spice cake could benefit from using Just Ginger instead of the usual cooking chocolate in the baking aisle at the grocery store.

What's the verdict?

If I had to choose a favorite, I would have to go with the Extra Dark Chocolate, however Just Ginger comes in at a close second.  I would find either very useful in my house for both cooking and nibbling.
Do you have a favorite flavor from Seed and Bean? I'd love to hear your recommendations - there are so many to try!