Dec 19 2014

Christmas 2014: 7 Things To Before Christmas

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For most of us today is our last official full day in work before the Christmas break, so I thought to get you through what is probably a long day of clock-watching until home time, I would share my seven favourite things to do in the run-up to Christmas to get you in the festive spirit.

#1 – Take a moment or ten to enjoy the festive displays all around you – whether it is the Christmassy scene in your office at home, or the incredible lights and shop windows in town, just simple enjoy the beauty of this time of year. If you are in London there are so many gems to enjoy, my favourite being the Harrods windows display, they always go big each year and this year is spectacular. I also love driving around our local area admiring our neighbours Christmas decorations, some people really must spend weeks putting up their lights.

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#2 – Head to a Christmas market, I know there isn’t long until the big day but trust me you’ll have fun just wandering around, listening to Christmas carols and you never know you might even pick up a few last-minute gifts you didn’t even know you needed. I also love checking out the food and drink as they seem to be more continental and you can get something new. I can’t wait to head down to St Albans this weekend, I have head they have a huge market this year.

#3 – Do a back-to-back Christmas movie marathon. I have previously shared my movie recommendations for the holiday season – check out my all-time favourites as well as a festive rom-com special. But if you after a quick suggest to get you started why not embrace your inner child and watch Home Alone, or laugh along with Elf, and you must not forget the ultimate Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street, the best Christmas movie ever!!Christmas miracle on 34th s Christmas 2014: 7 Things To Before Christmas %tag

#4 – Go Ice Skating. Gather your nearest and dearest and head off to your local rink, I love that nearly all major cities embrace ice rinks at this time of year, it really is a lot of fun and if you can get a late night slot you will get to skate around in twinkle light. Normally I do Somerset House but I am thinking this year we need to get our skate on at the Natural History Museum rink. I do wish though that I was in New York to skate in Central Park – maybe one Christmas!!!

#5 – Get baking!!! There are a whole host of goodies you can bake for the festive season from sugar cookies to mince pies and even gingerbread men, oh and basically anything chocolatey. I love baking, but it always feels more fun at Christmastime, and I have been searching around Pinterest for recipe inspiration as that place is pack full of yummy treats, and here are just a few I have found that I want to make. Want some quick and easy festive cupcakes to get you started – check out this recipe I posted last Christmas. Pinterest cookies Christmas 2014: 7 Things To Before Christmas %tag

#6 – Go for a winter walk. OK so this isn’t just required before Christmas, but I do like to get out and smell the fresh air especially during a manic season such as this. Head out in to the countryside, or to the coast, and just take in the changing season. Winter is one of my favourite times of year for a walk, you get to wrap up in lots of layers, you get to treat yourself with a flask of hot chocolate for that mid-walk break, and most of all I love taking pictures of the frosty mist that covers the countryside, it always looks so pretty.

#7 – Finally, why not do something for someone else. This could be as little as sharing a batch of mince pies with your neighbours, helping an elderly person with their heavy shopping bags, or even volunteering at a local charity that runs soup kitchens and homeless shelters. You can also get on board with one of the many Christmas charity campaigns, the two that caught my attention were the: Salvation Army’s appeal, a £19 donation could deliver a box of food and modest toys to a family who are facing hardship; or why not help give £21.62 to Crisis to reserve a place for a homeless person this Christmas.

How ever you spend Christmas – have a merry one!!!

[Pics: Fashionista Barbie, via Pinterest, and Harrods]

Dec 18 2014

Christmas 2014: Tis The Season To Be Jolly…

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Is anyone else really enjoying the run-up to Christmas this year? I always love it, but this year feels super special with it being our first festive season as Mr and Mrs, and I love that my wonderful husband has decided to start a new holiday tradition by buying a new bauble for every year of marriage, the first being a cute flying snowman that he picked up in Bruges. I can’t wait to see 25 years of marriage on our tree in the future.

Christmas 2014 tree 6 Christmas 2014: Tis The Season To Be Jolly... %tagDecorating the tree is a big deal for me, it generally takes me all day, I have to lay them all out, then try to find the best branches for the heavy items, and then I have the task of making sure each beauty gets a special spot on the tree, which generally means lots of moving them around, until it is just right, Paulie thinks I am a little nuts about it.

This year was hard, I have so many gorgeous decorations, and I picked up a few felt beauties as wedding presents, I am in love with the gingerbread man, the snowman and the smiling Christmas tree. But as always there is no theme, just decorated with love, with nearly everyone bauble having a memory, from the angel from my childhood to a wooden reindeer that was one of the first decorations Paulie bought me, and the Macy’s New York Santa that we picked up while we were in the city getting married.

I have been quite obsessed lately with Christmastime on Pinterest, getting décor inspiration, DIY tips – I really want to make my own snow globes, as well as seeing how other people dress their trees, and it seems most go for a theme, I don’t think that is quite right for me as I wouldn’t want to leave any of them off. I think when we have more than one tree, yes I am that much of a Christmas nut, I think it would be nice to do just gold or silver, or even just white, I do love it when trees have decorations all in one colour. But that will have to wait for the forever house when we have more room.

Do you have any Christmas tree traditions? Also don’t forget to showcase your festive wonderland with the #showmeyourtree hashtag on Instagram and Twitter I love seeing other people’s houses all decorated.

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Dec 16 2014

My Style: Finding The Perfect Leather Dress

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I have a list of wardrobe essentials that I am constantly trying to perfect, whether it is finding that white shirt that fits perfectly, or the softest cashmere jumper, or even that hero pair of skinny jeans that never loses its shape. One thing on that list that I haven’t got close to finding, well until I spotted this Iris & Ink beauty on The Outnet, had to be a leather dress.

I am pretty fussy, it had to be nearer to knee-length than mini-skirt, it had to be roomy enough that I could wear all day and still eat, it had to be quality, and most importantly it had to be more tailored than rock-chick and I definitely feel that the Aria Iris & Ink belted suede and leather dress ticks all those boxes.

I love that the combination of leather and suede really does make this a more contemporary take on the leather dress, it makes it a lot more comfortable to wear and I adore that you can nip in the waist with the belt, which I switched up for a skinny leather number as the dress was a little big the suede belt it came with wasn’t working for me.

The Iris & Ink collection at The Outnet has long been a favourite of mine, it is basically filled with timeless, quality wardrobe essentials and I love that I was able to style up this beauty for my blog. One of the areas that has been expanding for the label has to be the accessories, first it was oversized pouches to style up as a cool clutch and this season they have added some gorgeous leather pieces, my favourite being the ‘Camden’ Iris & Ink leather backpack, which you can wear as a backpack or as a bucket handbag, dependant on how you feel and what you are wearing.

There is a lot of love at the moment for bucket bags, they are everywhere, and what I love about this one is its versatility and how it works two trends – backpack and bucket bag, plus it is made from the dreamiest of leathers. It is also super roomy, I do love a bag that can carry all my stuff plus my big SLR. After test driving this beauty I don’t think any other bucket bag will quite cut it, I love that when it is super heavy that you can just change it up and wear it as a backpack. I think this beauty is a fashion week must.

Are you on the hunt for something off your wardrobe essentials list?

My Style Outnet 1 My Style: Finding The Perfect Leather Dress %tagMy Style Outnet 4 My Style: Finding The Perfect Leather Dress %tagMy Style Outnet 3 My Style: Finding The Perfect Leather Dress %tagMy Style: Aria’ Iris & Ink belted suede and leather dress, The Outnet (borrowed) // ‘Camden’ Iris & Ink leather backpack, The Outnet (borrowed) // Boots, Quiz Clothing (c/o) //

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Dec 11 2014

Editorial Loving: Vogue Paris – Real-Life Designer Barbie Dolls

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It has been a while since I have actually posted something on my blog that hasn’t had something to do with my wedding, sorry about that but I hope you understand that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I just had to share. So, before I bombard you with photographs from my UK celebrations that fingers crossed you all want to see, I thought I would showcase this amazing editorial from the latest issue of Vogue Paris with real-life designer Barbie dolls.

I have always dreamed of a collection full of designer Barbie dolls, I have a Karl Lagerfeld, a Dior, a Kate Spade one, complete with a little dog, a Coach doll with the cutest bag I wish I would steal, as well as a trio of Christian Louboutin dolls with better footwear than me, so I literally gasped aloud when I saw this beautiful and creative editorial taking inspiration from the Moschino Barbie collection and dressing up each real-life doll in looks from the likes of Valentino, Chanel, Gucci and Miu Miu.

What I love most about this editorial shot by Giampaolo Sgura has to be the fact that models Elizabeth Erm and Magdalena Frackowiak have been shot like Barbie dolls inside their boxes, it is as though they are sat on a shelf in a toy store waiting for me to take them home.

The styling by creative duo Claire Dhelens and Celia Azoulay is outstanding, not only are they showcasing the designer’s latest collections but they really do illustrate what the brand is about – from the butterflies and flowers of Valentino to the David Bowie vibes of Saint Laurent, and the fun-girl pompoms of Miu Miu, and don’t get me started on the equestrian chicness of Gucci, I basically need Mattel to make that happen stat!!

It is hard to pick a favourite, I do love the total Barbie vibes of Moschino, as well as the accessories of the Louis Vuitton doll, she even has her very own doll-sized trunk, seriously swooning over that, and a Ralph Lauren air-stewardess dressed all in gold is super fun, but I think my heart belongs to Chanel, did you see her make-up, her pearl jewellery and her handbags.

It seems Barbie is very much in fashion at the moment and I love this creative-twist on showcasing the latest collections, it must have taken a lot of hours to build the sets and to meticulously attach all the accessories, and I just love that the models are such great dolls!!!

Which real-life Barbie doll is your favourite?

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[Pics: Giampaolo Sgura for Vogue Paris]

Dec 09 2014

My Wedding: My Purely Diamonds Wedding Ring

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I didn’t know how important my wedding ring would mean to me until the love of my life placed it on my finger during out vows, it was at that moment I was so pleased that I didn’t go with a plain band and added some sparkle as it really represents what a beautiful moment we both shared.

I love jewellery especially bracelets and necklaces but rings I find hard to choose, I am not sure why, but the wedding band worried me a lot. My worries tripled after visiting numerous high street jewellers and trying on lots of bling rings that I just felt weren’t right for me and didn’t complement my engagement ring. I was so please when Purely Diamonds got in touch about their bespoke design service as it really did make the wedding ring search so easy.

My wedding IHNY 26 My Wedding: My Purely Diamonds Wedding Ring %tagWhat I loved most about Purely Diamonds was that they really understood that I was looking for a ring that didn’t overpower engagement ring, they took my concerns, my dreams and wishes, and truly designed a gorgeous ring that thankfully didn’t have any round or square diamonds, which was a big thing for me as I wanted emerald cut just like my engagement ring.

During the process I don’t think I was much help, all I knew was the shape of diamond, the colour – it had to be platinum, and it had to be a similar band size to my engagement ring. I think they would have loved for me to say what carat weight and clarity but I have no clue on that sort of thing, but lucky for me the team really know there stuff and were super patient with me and I loved that they even photoshopped the ring design next to my engagement ring so I could really see that it complemented it impeccably.

I love that it adds to the beauty of my engagement ring that Paulie designed with a subtle-yet-beautiful line of diamonds, which really do twinkle perfectly when the light catches them. Separately my rings are beautiful, together though they really are divine and Purely Diamonds really did capture our love perfectly.

Using an online jeweller might worry some people, but once you scroll through their rings, be warned there are a lot, you will see the quality and beauty of their designs, and don’t worry if you don’t see something that isn’t quite right, trust me they will be able to design it for you.

Did you struggle to find your perfect wedding ring?

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Want to see more from my New York wedding? Well check out my becoming a Mrs post, a close up look at my gorgeous vintage wedding gown, and the Priv team behind my stunning hair and make-up.

[Pics: IHNY Photos]



Dec 08 2014

My Wedding: A Priv Makeover

My wedding IHNY 12 My Wedding: A Priv Makeover %tagOne of the main stresses about getting married in New York, after figuring out how I was going to pack my amazing wedding dress into a tiny carry-on case, had to be who was going to do my hair and make-up. Unlike my search here in the UK, I didn’t have friends in New York who do hair and make-up, I didn’t have anyone to recommend wedding make-up artists, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a trial, so it would have to be do-or-die on my actual wedding day.

I was freaking about it until at least a week before I flew out until I got an invite to the launch of PRIV, an incredible beauty and wellness service at the top of an app, which was launching in London but was already huge in New York. PRIV literally offers everything from haircuts, blow drys, make-up, manicures, massages and even personal trainer sessions. Oh and did I mention it isn’t crazy expensive, we are talking £38 for a blow dry and style or a manicure with nail art, and their stylists will come to you. Super easy and I really don’t know what I would have done without them.

I was lucky, the PR pulled a few strings and got me the full monty nails, make-up and an up-do, basically a wedding makeover, and I was treated to the best that PRIV has to offer, and I was truly looked after – thank god they launched in London and came on my radar.

I had my nails done the night before, the lovely India came to my hotel suite, dealt with the moody Soho Grand lighting like a pro, and worked my vision of having blush, pink nails with a glittery silver tip with ease. I wanted something fun that would compliment my vintage wedding gown and its heavy beading, while still being girlie and romantic. I was so pleased with the result, the colour was perfect and the silver had just enough sparkle.

My Wedding PRIV nails My Wedding: A Priv Makeover %tagMy Wedding PRIV hair My Wedding: A Priv Makeover %tagWhen it came to my hair, I had a vision, I knew I wanted my fringe down, apparently this isn’t a popular wedding option, I wanted a braid, I am a little obsessed – see my Pinterest, and I wanted a chic ponytail, but I have to be honest I was worried that my look wouldn’t be bridal enough for my gown, and if I had anyone other than Michael I am not sure it would have turned out as gorgeous as it did.

I loved the contrast between the drama in the side braid, which worked perfectly with the pearl pins I picked up on eBay, and the modern-chic vibe of the ponytail. I just felt it was perfect for a fun, elopement in New York City. My worry when looking at wedding hair inspiration was that I would look old, stuffy and not myself, and I was so pleased that Michael worked his magic with my very untraditional bridal vision and produced a truly unique look.

What also made this look perfect was the fact it lasted all day, honestly there wasn’t a hair out of place when we got back after a great day, and it lasted through hours of shooting our wedding photos, most of which were outside and it lasted for champagne shenanigans and dinner. I was seriously impressed.

My Wedding PRIV makeup  My Wedding: A Priv Makeover %tagFor my make-up the only thing I had shared with Mariana before she arrived was that I wanted bold eyes, as when you wear glasses you need to go bolder for it to stand-out and be noticed. Mariana did a wonderful job, she didn’t make my foundation too heavy, while still making me feel gorgeous and covered, she didn’t go crazy with the blusher, one of my biggest worries when getting my make-up done, and she made my eyes really pop.

I love that she came prepared with options, not that she needed them that she thought about adding individual lashes to work with my glasses, and that she prepped my skin to perfection so that my wedding look stayed put all-day long.

My transformation didn’t take long, the PRIV glamsquad are masters of their trade and I was super impressed with their skill, their personalities, we really did have a giggle, as well as everyone understanding what a big day it was for me, I felt like they went above and beyond what they needed to do and they certainly made me feel and look fantastic, as well as create looks that matched my vintage wedding gown.

PRIV has just launched in London, in selected areas for now but I am sure it will grow in the coming months, so why not download the app on Apple and Android, it is free, and treat yourself – why not just before a big date for a work event, or just because – trust me you will feel a million dollars afterwards.

I am really pleased with my wedding looks – do you think my vision worked with my New York wedding?

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Dec 05 2014

My Wedding: A Closer Look At My Vintage Wedding Gown

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I don’t know any bride, who doesn’t want an incredible wedding gown, but it is hard to get something unique, dramatic-yet-still elegant, with an Old Hollywood feel that is within some reasonable budget. Add on top the rest of my very long wishlist, not too white, a wow skirt, beading or embroidery and with romantic floaty sleeves – I thought it was more fantasy than reality.

I wasn’t against a modern, boutique gown, I would have loved the money to treat myself to a designer number like Vera Wang or Elie Saab, but I was realistic with my finances and I just felt that a vintage beauty would be more fitting to our elopement wedding in New York, and would possible give me that couture, red carpet feeling without the price tag.

I know vintage doesn’t mean cheap, but I was willing to hunt around for the one. Thankfully I didn’t search long for my gorgeous gown, to be honest I didn’t search at all. My gown came to me by chance, we had only been engaged less than a month when our friends who were with us in New York came to stay and we took them to Bury St Edmonds, we kind of took a wrong turn exploring the town and we found vintage store, House Of Huxster. I thought it was a long shot, but as soon as I saw it I loved it, I didn’t think it would fit me, but I loved it and thank god for stretch!

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It needed a little work, it originally had spaghetti straps, which I felt didn’t really do the dress justice, and it didn’t have enough drama on the bottom, but I was introduced the incredible Irene, an amazing seamstress and she really did work her magic. She added floaty sleeves to add a touch of romance, more layers of pouf under the skirt, re-shaped the skirt, added a belt, and made more tulle ruffles that were so close to the original that you can’t even tell which ones are new. Irene basically brought my vision to life, held my hand through those wobbles of thinking I was too fat, the worry that it was too formal for what we were doing, and my last-minute panic that Paul wouldn’t like it, I should have known that he would love it.

The gown to me just felt like it was made for New York. I love everything about the gown and how it combined everything I wanted – the beading, the tulle, the sleeves and the unusual skirt, which is my favourite thing about the dress – it looks great in photos, but more than that it made me feel like I was floating when I walked. It was the most perfect gown and I am so pleased the professional pictures from I Heart New York have come out so well, the dress really shines.

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As the dress makes such a statement I didn’t want to go too crazy with my jewellery so I went for pieces that I felt complimented it. The highlight being my great grandmother’s pearls, they are so gorgeous, I love the off-white colour and the fact that they are 80 years old I just felt that they belong with my vintage number, and when else can you get away with wearing the most exquisite pearl necklace.

I then went for Tiffany infinity bow bracelet that was a present from Paul a couple of years ago, which looked great with my silver heart bracelet from my friend Sarah, I just loved that she made Paul give it to me on the plane over to New York as she received one before her wedding, and the final piece of arm candy was my pearl and silver cuff from the Jenny Packham for Debenhams collection that I found in my jewellery box just before we flew out, I love how it has similar beads to my dress. The final touch were my Kenneth Jay Lane sparkly earrings, something simple that catches the light.

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The last thing to mention about my New York wedding look are my shoes. My plan was to have navy blue, to match Paul’s tux jacket, the only problem was that my vintage gown didn’t have the height to take anything higher than 2 inch heels, which I am so pleased about now, and I just couldn’t find anything I liked. I wanted designer shoes without the price tag so I went on the sample sale hunt and that’s when I spotted these white Jimmy Choo with a tiny heel, they are super comfortable and I love the pointy toe on them.

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The surprise addition, which looks like it was made just for me, was my Mr And Mrs clutch from Kate Spade. Paul actually ordered this beauty and picked up on our wedding day, it was such a lovely surprise and it seems I am not the only one loving it as it has been a bit of a hit on Instagram. Well if you can’t find statement heels you have to do a clutch!

It feels like an end of chapter finally showing off my amazing wedding gown, especially as I kept it a secret not just from Paul but nearly everyone as I wanted it to make a statement, which I hope it did. I know everyone has an opinion on wedding gowns and I would love to hear what you think of my choice, as I really couldn’t be happier with it.

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[Pics: IHNY Photos]
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