My Christmas Shopping Secrets

17 December 2014

As promised, this year I've decided to put together my first gift guide but as per usual there's a twist.  I'm not one to tell people exactly what to get their nearest and dearest but what I can share is my thought process behind presents, to help any of you shopping at the last minute.  In an ideal world we'd all consult our secret Pinterest boards featuring things we've seen for people throughout the year, but sometimes you can still be confuzzled on the 22nd and end up overwhelmed in a busy shopping centre.  My key is to assess what people have, need and want to improve about their lives.  If all else fails then anything personalised works a treat! 

What to wear to a Christmas party

Things I Accidentally Bought For Myself


OK, forgive me because I have sinned.  Technically anything bought pre-December-ish is okay so I thought I'd share some of the bits I've treated myself to recently.   You may have seen my ASOS dress and velvety shoes already but I also finally treated myself to the Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita palette after seeing it on a few blogs.  In terms of presents I can be quite tricky to buy for and it's hard for people to anticipate what I want when it depends on the mood I'm in and what I already have.  I'm happy to have multiples of some things (initial mugs) but not others and people really need to be five steps ahead of me.  I try to be philosophical about it all though, I can be quite fortunate all year round so it doesn't matter if I don't get everything I want.  I'm probably not the kind of girl who can relate to those 'What I got for Christmas videos' as I tend to get a couple of things (once there was once money in envelopes on the tree), but I'm fine with that.  I'll work hard to buy whatever I want all year round and look forward to treating others at Christmas.

Ella Masters Print - ASOS Dress - Stach Chocolate - Sephora Lip Stain - Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita Palette - ASOS Heels

Things to put my Christmas money towards:



Gift Guide: What to buy your Mum for Christmas

For A Mum With A Lot Of Stuff


This is basically where I get my magpie-like nature from, my Mum has a lorra lorra stuff so I try to buy her things that she can experience.  Of course I still needed some visuals for the post, so there are lots of things that have to be in a specific place, will be used daily and therefore don't take up much room.  I know that she's a fan of the original Opium perfume, but I know she'd love Black Opium as it's unashamedly floral with notes of black coffee.  The pillow spray would be the perfect thing to get her relaxed before bed and I know she'd appreciate the cashmere gloves and the Casio Sheen watch with a bit of subtle bling.  Anyway, back to the whole experience thing.  My Mum expressed some wistfulness when I mentioned that I was going to Paris so my Dad and I actually got her some Eurostar vouchers for her birthday, which was yesterday (you have to call their helpline to order them).  This is a slightly cheeky way of having another trip there myself but since I've been a few times, I thought it would be perfect to show her around.  Colette wont know what's hit it!   



Take Your Mama Out All Night: 





Gift Guide: What to buy your Dad for Christmas

When your Dad doesn't have Pinterest, or even know what it is


Does anyone else's Dad appear to be perfectly content?  Every year I wrack my brains as to what to get Papa P and most of the time I don't stray from Thermals, Tech and Alcohol.  Luckily a passing comment from my Mum about the gym brought on a trendy new trainer purchase.  You really do have to keep an ear out in the months leading up towards Christmas, I also know that he loves to watch TV on his laptop (don't ask) so some new headphones would be appreciated.  Everything else is part of the tried and tested formula, a cosy new jumper, coffee from Paris and some good old champers.



Dad Stuff (it all happens to be black):



Gift Guide: What to buy your brother for Christmas

The Trendy Bro Who Goes to CSM


So the brother I actually asked for at age five is now a 6ft super cool Fashion Journalism student with an occasional beard.  The fashion gene only really kicked in a few years ago, I realised this when I bought him a One-Direction style Topman hoody and he asked for the receipt.  Basically he's now the male version of me, he likes Kenzo, A.P.C and anything else you can buy in Shoreditch.  I tend to buy him t-shirts and jumpers, so interesting prints and logos from places like Weekday, Hype and Carhartt are a safe bet.  This Eastpak x Courrèges backpack is an exclusive collaboration, so brings me instant Brownie points plus you can't go wrong with some Pumas.  I also saw these geometric desk bits whilst in Paris, which would be great for organisation when he's writing about.  Try Smug in Angel for a U.K alternative.  I know these Daniel Wellington watches are knocking about everywhere but you can't fault their simplicity, I bet he'd love this leather one.


For the hipster in your life:





christmas gift guide: what to buy your 13 year old sister

Attempting to be down with the kids

(what do 13-year-old girls even like these days?)


Now for another sibling who's taller than me.  My sister is used to a lot of my hand-me-downs, so pretty much anything goes but I've noticed that she likes to have fun with what she wears.  Think novelty brands like Skinny Dip London for tech and any sort of onesie (this Text Santa number also helps charity, win).  She's not really into things like make-up yet (phew) so some smellies from Lush will suit her nicely for any super-long baths she takes.  The personalised Nutella from Selfridges is such a good idea, though be sure to get there early as I had to queue for about half an hour.  Maybe bring some cards to write?  


Please stop growing up now, k thanks bye:


 

Gift Guide: What to buy your Nan for Christmas

Stuff Nans Like


I'm probably guilty of not phoning my Nan enough but until I can teach her the ways of Whatsapp, I need to pledge to keep in contact with her more.  These gifts are just an inkling of what's to come, I need to spend more time with her and I can't think of anything better than catching up over a cup of tea (fruit & herbal in my case).  I know she loves gardening, but until the weather is more inviting then these Bloom & Wild flowers would work a treat.  They actually come through the letterbox, so it's a great surprise when you're expecting a load of bills.  Everyone is pretty surprised when I share the fact that my Nan goes to the gym a few times a week but I'm glad she's found something she loves doing and has more resolve than I do!  The Boden range would be perfect for her workouts.  Since her hair is a little bit purple, I joke that she should try out the Bleach London colours for a change.  Chloe Norgaard eat your heart out, the Nans were onto the colourful hair trend first!


For fitness and cosy nights in:





Gift Guide: What to buy your friend for Christmas

Stuff for your friend who's just moved or even (shudder) bought a house


A lot of my friends have made the switch from loving garments to things like trendy pie dishes recently.  It's probably best, home-related items tend to be easier to buy as there's no sizing to worry about and you can choose exciting mugs and bowls to jazz up the basics they already have.  If you're still in doubt, then get something printed and framed.  It may be too late for Printic depending on what you order but bear it in mind for birthdays and if you're seeing people after Christmas.  You can always head to your local Snappy Snaps, get a nice photo of you and your chum printed and stick it in an Oliver Bonas frame.  For extra thoughtful points, a personalised Krisatomic portrait is the perfect gift for the selfie-obsessed and you also get a high-res scan for use on social media.  The last date for U.K shipping is today though, so best to get a move on!  How has December gone so quickly?     


Stuff to make a house a home:




I'd love to know the situations you have to buy for this year and any strategies you have!  You'll have to be quick when ordering some of these bits as Lisa Edoff is a Swedish brand and some of the last dates for free delivery are today.  If you get really stuck then use this guide as inspiration when out and about, plus check out some of my favourite one stop shops!

The Parisian Puzzle

14 December 2014

what to wear in Paris

Ah Paris, I've visited you a few times now and you've become a bit of a distant relative.  We know each other fairly well but there's still work to be done, plus occasionally we can frustrate each other due to some poor communication, mainly on my part.  I'm sorry my bits of GSCE French are no longer up to scratch.  Most of my experiences in this city have been bittersweet, sometimes due to staying in areas that weren't actually Paris and getting confused by things like the RER or wishing that I had the sort of budget to make shopping at Rue Cambon a reality.  Don't even talk about the time I confused the two green Metro lines, maybe I just shouldn't be left to my own devices.  Thankfully the tourist board Paris Je T'aime invited a few of us to discover some different parts of the city in relative comfort.  We stayed at the W Paris in Opera with gorgeous views of the Palais Garnier, saw some of the Christmas lights of the Champs Elysees in a retro minibus and experienced French cabaret in Ma Cocotte.  Can you tell from my dancing pose above that this has been one of my favourite visits yet?!

saint germain des pres Paris
Urban Outfitters Cooperative Exaggerated Collar Check Tartan Coat in Black and Red
ASOS Premium Skater Dress in Jacquard with Embroidery
how to wear a pretty embroidered skater dress
Out From Under Risk Ring-Pull Platform Boots in Black
ASOS Premium Skater Dress in Jacquard with Embroidery

Ring - Monki

Never have I ever felt more suited to a place in terms of what I was wearing.  The Shangri-La Paris was our brunch location and I didn't think much of it until I saw the decadent interior of some of the rooms.  I felt like I'd been transported to some sort of period film set so it's no wonder that some of the suites have been used for photoshoots.  My embroidered ASOS dress even managed to fit in with some of the 18th century furnishings and plush wallpaper and as you can see in this snap I felt right at home in the Imperial Suite.  A girl can dream.  I've definitely embraced keeping things a little more simple in terms of what I wear, a few years ago I might have teamed this ensemble with white tights, brogues and ankle socks but now I'm fine with my black opaques.  These Urban Outfitters boots managed to slip through the chunky-black-boot-ban, I like to think they do a slightly different job with the round zip and they sit slightly lower on the ankle.  Does anyone else think of the most random reasons to justify a purchase?

the view from the Shangri-La Paris
opulent interior Shangri-La hotel Paris
opulent interior Shangri-La hotel Paris
visiting the Shangri-La hotel Paris
luxury hotels in Paris
luxury hotels in Paris
luxury hotels in Paris
weekend brunch at the Shangri-La hotel Paris
weekend brunch at the Shangri-La hotel Paris
fashion blogger trip to Paris
One of those pictures where everyone's looking in various directions.  Oh well!  Was lovely to meet Roseanna, Tiphaine, Chloé, Sofia, Fadela and Emma!

Back to brunch.  Since the hotel has a strong eastern influence, you can actually have sushi as part of your starter at La Bauhinia, then Eggs Benedict before the likes of Pad Thai.  Then afterwards there's enough dessert options to make you want to wear smocks for life.  The price makes it a serious treat, but for the amount of food you get and the dream setting, it'd be perfect if you were celebrating a special occasion or just want to feel like royalty for a few hours.  I feel extremely lucky to be able to include the odd extravagant experience on this blog.  Of course I love to share my budget eats but I also welcome having the opportunity to show you what else is out there.  A hotel like this is part of another world and I'm happy to observe it every so often, before going back to my flatshare normality.  To end such an iconic day, we had a quick scoot around the Christmas markets of Saint Germain before a coffee at Café de Flore.  I've definitely bonded with Paris a little more on this trip and I can't wait to show you what else I've discovered!

Coffee at Cafe de Flore Paris

Recreate my Parisian look:


Three Festive Occasions

12 December 2014

Meringue Girls cookery class in East London

'I hope that's not another Christmas related post', I hear you cry.  If you're already sick of the C-word, then you're probably in the wrong place.  Perhaps I can tempt you with some slightly less cheesy experiences and not a carol in sight?  In the run up to good old December 25th, I've had a few fun opportunities, which I've handily condensed into bite-sized form.

Meringue Girls cookery class in East London
Meringue Girls cookery class in East London
Meringue Girls cookery class in East London
Meringue Girls cookery class in East London
Meringue Girls cookery class in East London
Meringue Girls cookery class in East London

Making Meringues


These are probably some of the most Instagram-ed creations in existence, we've had cupcakes, macarons and now the humble meringue is one of the most visually appealing things in a sea of humdrum.  I've seen some of the Meringue Girls arrangements at countless events and Broadway Market, but thanks to a Rangemaster cookery event I got to realise the amount of precision that goes into making them.  Getting the whisking just so and adding the right amounts of sugar is all well and good, but then you have to pipe the mixture and keep everything consistent.  I failed on this front, hence my efforts not being pictured but it was interesting to see how the basic mixture can be customised with all sorts of things (the cinnamon flavour with a spiced apple crumble mixture was an addictive fave).  The event was the evening before the founders Alex Hoffler and Stacey O' Gorman were due to shoot some more recipes for their second book, so there was plenty of exciting combinations to see.  I may have been a bit naughty and eaten some for breakfast the next day... 

Christmas Shopping at Bicester Village
Christmas Shopping at Bicester Village
Christmas Shopping at Bicester Village
Christmas Shopping at Bicester Village
Christmas Shopping at Bicester Village

Back To Bicester


My main memories of Bicester Village as a child were just being dragged around the designer shops and moaning about the lack of toys.  Fast forward a few (cough) decades and I'm as label obsessed as they come, drooling over Celine and crossing my fingers that I'm going to find a bargain in the Mulberry outlet.  The shopping village has grown so much since I first started visiting and now with shops like Kenzo and Kate Spade, I'm even closer to affording some of my dream pieces.  I got to attend the press launch a little while ago and brought my Mum along with me, only fitting since she first introduced me to the place and would make it part of out route home after picking me up from Uni.  There are plenty of trains from London, so it might be worth popping up to this Oxfordshire town for any Christmas shopping or bargain treats once everything is over.

Christmas markets in Vienna with Olympus Pen generation
Christmas markets in Vienna with Olympus Pen generation
Christmas markets in Vienna with Olympus Pen generation
Christmas markets in Vienna with Olympus Pen generation
Christmas markets in Vienna with Olympus Pen generation
Christmas markets in Vienna with Olympus Pen generation

Visiting Vienna


My blogging kit has evolved drastically since my point and shoot days and over the past few months I've been looking after a nifty Olympus Pen.  It's not meant to replace my main DSLR, no sir, but in order to prove that I'm not an old fogey and can use new devices, I've been getting to grips with some of the features that are more suited to me.  The main thing I love about it is the versatile LCD screen, perfect for when I'm in a selfie mood (I used it for the snaps of me in this post when there was no photographer boyfriend to be found) or just want to arrange things systematically on a white background.  I was initially meant to use the camera for vlogging but after forgetting to film anything apart from the airport in Amsterdam, I've shelved that idea for a while.  My quick trip to Vienna last week gave me a great opportunity to put the features to the test when visiting some Christmas markets, I do find the manual mode a little less straightforward but I'm pretty happy with how it coped with the low light.  I'm also head over heels for the custom leather strap I made at an Elizabeth Dunn workshop a little while ago, which suits my personality to a tee.  If only I could have started my blogging journey with this!

Let me know what festive things you've been up to!  
 
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