Chinese New Year: Celebrate The Year of the Dog with A Feast (plus Rosé)!

I love celebrating Chinese New Year – if you live in a big city check to see if there are any events near you coming up: Southampton always has a lion dance and dragon dance going on somewhere in the city, and you can find out more here. I’ve said before that sharing other people’s food, traditions and holidays is the purest way of showing appreciation and love, so with that in mind, I’d like to share some great recipes for celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Dog on Friday 16 February!

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Easy Entertaining At Christmas With Aldi

If you’re like me, the best part of Christmas has to be the food, the entertaining, and spending time with friends and family. I’m not the type to get too flustered by cooking, but I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when there’s so much else to do, so my favourite way to feed the masses over Christmas is with a big cold buffet spread.

Can you believe I got this whole spread from Aldi for under £25?!

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Ten Top Treats in Marseille: Unmissable Food In Provence

MuCem

When it comes to France, my joy is sparked not by the grand avenues of Paris, dainty treats from the patisserie, or high fashion shopping, but from the rough and ready parts – bold flavours, cold seaside towns, grimy newsagents, supermarket shelves and farmers markets. My favourite French towns and cities will never make it into Vogue, but they provide the kind of experience I crave – real life, real people, real food. A few years ago, my husband and I visited Marseille, completely unaware of its seedy reputation, and discovered a beautiful, underappreciated gem of a city, complete with a rich tradition of gorgeous Provencial food and culture that I fell in love with. Continue reading

Fortune Teller from Ciate's Mini Mani Month Advent calendar: nail swatch

Ciate’s Mini Mani Month 2016: All The Swatches!

My Top Five Nail Polish Swatches from Ciate London

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll probably know that in December, I swatched all the colours from Ciate’s Mini Mani Month advent calendar. I decided to make a post featuring my favourite colours, and there’s a link below to take you to all of the swatches from the advent calendar on my Flickr account!

Starry Night

Starry Night from Ciate's Mini Mani Month Advent calendar: nail swatch

Starry Night from Ciate’s Mini Mani Month Advent calendar: nail swatch

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Get your body ready for January with LQ Liquid Health Joint Care

Get your body ready for January: keeping healthy in winter

People love to pour scorn on New Year resolutions almost as much as they like to make them. January is a natural time to reflect on the last year and try and make the next 12 months better than the last, though – and it’s a good time to get stuck into exercise too, if you’ve spent December on the sofa overindulging!

I get sent a lot of supplements and vitamins throughout the year, so I thought I’d share my favourites with you in time for the New Year. These are things you can start taking right away to get your body ready for whatever you want to throw at it come next month!

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Replikate Face-Off: Paul & Joe Lyrisme Cape

When I heard there was a replikate available for Kate’s gorgeous Paul & Joe cape, which she wore in the Bhutan, I couldn’t quite believe it. Of all the items she’s worn, this would probably be one of the last I’d imagine would be copied. It’s an intricate design, and an item she only wore once. As soon as I heard about it, I had to order one right away to do a comparison between the two.

In all pictures, the original Paul & Joe cape is pictured on the left, while the copy is on the right.

I have to say, I was pretty bowled over by how well the replikate came out. I didn’t know what to expect, but the embroidery is really very similar to the original (obviously, some changes need to be made to stay on the right side of copyright). The colours are a little darker in the embroidery of the copy, especially in the greens.

The copy has the same unusual style of stand-up collar, a little thicker and taller than the original. The fabric overall is thicker and heavier, which means this might actually be a better choice for autumn and winter than the fairly thin Paul & Joe cape.

The fastenings are where the main difference lies – the original has hook and eyelets, whereas the copy has large poppers to keep the cape closed.

As you can see, on the back the detailing is still gorgeous on both items – with the largest difference being in the replikate’s centre embroidery, which creates a void at the nape of the neck not present in the original.

This is the bottom of the cape, and you can see the replikate stops before the hem, whereas the original continues the emboridery beyond it.

The original is much finer – and the lining is so thin you can see the embroidery through it. You’ll also notice that the original is ivory, whereas the replikate is a bold, winter white.

The care label marks the replikate as 70% silk and 30% cotton, while the original is 100% wool. The size on the replikate is marked as ‘large’, but it’s the same size as the original, which is ‘one size’.

Another slight difference is the fact that the copy has a slightly raised hem at the front, although both items are a similar length, as you can see in the first image.

All in all, if you’re looking for a copy, this is a fantastic one – the quality is great for the price, and I can’t believe how well they were able to replicate the beautiful embroidery. The original cost £380 – which was increased to £420 when they re-released. I spent £72.22 on this replikate, which for a saving of over £300, makes this a serious bargain. As a bonus, it also comes with a free belt like the one Kate wore with it in Bhutan!

(I have sold the replica cape now! Thanks to Jennifer for the tip and finding the cape on eBay!)

5 Swoon-Worthy Summer Pieces from a Few of Kate’s Favourite Designers

Elegant and timeless, the Duchess of Cambridge never seems to miss a step when it comes to dressing appropriately and fashionably for every occasion – that’s one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by her style. While I may not attend as many formal and special events as the dashing duchess, I can certainly pick up a few pretty pieces made by some of her favourite designers. From preppy to feminine to regal, she has mastered the art of picking proper attire without losing her own personal sense of style. I’ve gathered a handful of inspiring pieces that you’ll want to wear all summer long.

Temperley London

Blazer

If you wish to look smart like Kate while also keeping your cool in the summer heat, Lyst’s editorial team suggests a jacket in a lightweight material with thoughtful tailoring. The pink Lanai blazer by Temperley London is crafted from linen for breathability while still offering a polished and professional appearance. Wear an outfit like this with a pair of Kate-inspired wedges to the office, and then dress it up with jewellery and a clutch for cocktails after work. This looks so much like a riff on the peach Tara Jarmon coat that Kate wore when visiting Naomi House in Hampshire that I can really imagine her selecting this – a pretty pastel colour on a traditionally unisex item makes it ultra feminine and especially appropriate for summer!

Alexander McQueen

Dress

Named as one of her favourite designers by What Kate Wore, McQueen’s dresses are definitely staples in the royal wardrobe. Although pricey for the average household, you can still use the garments as inspiration for the pieces you can pick up within your price range (think Reiss or Whistles!). There’s something so ethereal about seeing the duchess in different shades of white, which is why I’ve chosen this lovely perforated A-line dress in cream and black. It’s perfect for baby showers, engagement parties, and brunch with the girls. McQueen has always been one of my favourite designers, too, and although the items are out of my price range for every day wear, I sometimes splurge on a item that could work season after season, for multiple events!

L.K. Bennett

Wedge

The royal fashion experts over at Kate Middleton Style assure us that L.K. Bennett shoes are definitely in her rotation. The duchess often selects pumps and court shoes, as well as bags, dresses, coats, and jackets by this designer. In this instance, though, I’ll focus on a pair of elevated jute wrapped wedges with tan leather straps. Priced under £300, these sandals are surprisingly affordable and definitely channel Kate’s easy fashion sense. Wear these anywhere a little open-toe shoe action is appropriate. Also, note that wedges are much easier to walk in than pumps, particularly after you’ve been hitting the Pimm’s – and they’re also perfect for stamping down the divots in between chukkas when you’re watching polo!

REISS

Print

With Kate being such a huge fan of the effortless ease of a flattering dress, especially now that she’s a mum of two, I’ve chosen another one that is reminiscent of her signature style. This conservative Carmen V-neck sleeveless dress by REISS is the perfect work-to-weekend piece. Pair it with a cardigan, polished pumps, and a structured handbag for a truly classy ensemble that’s perfect for the office, date night, and dinner parties. Blue florals prints are a favourite of the Duchess (think her ditsy blue Whistles dress she wore at the Diamond Jubilee Concert, or her Beulah scarfs in blue and white) – I can definitely see her in this with her hair up for a dinner out!

Emilia Wickstead

Trousers

Although we don’t see the duchess donning trousers very often, they are an occasional part of her repertoire, albeit usually in the form of skinny jeans. But there are plenty of Kate-fans who would love to see her make trousers part of her formal wardrobe, and what better way to start than with one of her favourite designers – Emilia Wickstead? These lovely high-waisted cloque trousers by Wickstead are perfect for the everywoman – you don’t have to to be Kate to find plenty of reasons for breaking these out of the closet. Excellent for an important meeting or dressier event outside of work, perhaps a charity or art gala, wear these with confidence. Pair them with strappy sandals and an embellished blouse for a more formal gathering, or with a simple silk tank and casual peep-toe wedges for a more casual get-together.

From dresses to blazers to trousers, these lovely garments are fashion forward and wearable at the same time, which is something I find so endearing about her style. I hope you’ve been inspired to start your own royal wardrobe with a few of my favourite pieces from a few of Kate’s favourite designers!

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Sky Ride Southampton 2016


June saw the return of GoSkyRide to Southampton, and despite the dodgy looking weather, it turned out to be another glorious day!


I decided to ride into town from my house, about four miles away – pretty much downhill but I forgot about the few uphill parts and roadworks which made things a little more difficult. Also had the customary beeping from one car – it seems like there’s always at least one person who can’t quite believe their eyes when they see a person cycling or jogging or even walking along the side of the road and they have to beep just to check they’re still awake and not dreaming… (And no, I wasn’t running a red light or cycling in their way, they weren’t even in the same lane as me!)


By the time I arrived I was already pretty knackered, but the fairly flat course was good fun and I got my wind back pretty quickly! The route was fairly congested and it took around 45 minutes to do a complete circuit, which included the Civic Centre, up to the Common, back down again and then through the parks in town to the Bargate (sadly covered in scaffolding at the moment) and back.


There were loads of cool riders, including plenty of people riding with music, and even an entire five piece percussion band who managed to cycle and play all the way around! There were also a few people in fancy dress as well – I don’t know how they do it! I was sweating in my thin cotton top as it was!

I was also sweating it slightly because I hadn’t serviced my bike since last summer, and wasn’t sure if it was up to scratch – luckily, it was still in great condition, and with a little bit of tyre pumping, I was ready to go!


Of course, after a hard day on the bike, the only way to recover on a summer’s evening was with a cool glass of Pimm’s, garnished with some gorgeous Alpine strawberries and mint from the garden!

Have you been to a Skyride in your local area? Let me know! Or, tell me about your favourite cycling route or location!

 

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Kate’s New BFF: Nina vs Natalie in the Battle of the Clutches

Move over, Natalie. There’s a new girl in town. Her name is Nina, and she comes in trench…

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The Duchess of Cambridge recently debuted a new L.K. Bennett clutch during her royal tour of India, and it sparked a bit of a buzz, not least because it wasn’t even available to the public yet. Teamed with matching high heels (in two heel heights, no less), the Nina in trench looked to be Kate’s new favourite clutch. L.K. Bennett released the item for sale yesterday, and as I find myself with nothing else better to do on a Friday afternoon, I thought I’d take time out to compare it to an old favourite, the Natalie clutch in straw.

Nina vs

Now, I have a massive soft spot for the Natalie, because during the summer months it really feels like it goes with everything. Kate most often wore it with her trusty L.K. Bennett sledges in taupe, but it also went with the Minx Wedges from Stuart Weitzman, her L.K. Bennett sliver sandals (still only seen once on Kate!), also in taupe, and arguments could be made for it matching any number of her other wedges and espadrilles. However, since Kate’s recently switched from the Sledge to the Fern / Floret in trench, she seems to have ditched the Natalie as her working horse summer clutch in favour of the new Nina.

Tops

Size-wise, there’s not much in the way of difference between the two. The Nina is slightly longer and wider, but the Natalie is fatter. Style wise, the Natalie’s puffy stuffed exterior gives it a pleasantly plump hand-feel, whereas the Nina is much less forgiving and easily marked (mine arrived with a dent in it!). I can imagine the leather becoming damaged from a sweaty palm print or a snagged fingernail very easily, whereas the Natalie really feels fairly indestructible. Natalie has a chic dark taupe satin trim around the edges, like a ribbon, and the Nina is the same trench-coloured leather all around. Finally, while the Natalie has the brand name embossed on the latch, the Nina latch is bare.

vs

In terms of internal chain, the Nina beats Natalie hands down. I never was too happy with Natalie’s puny, silver-esque chain, but Nina’s is long and elegant, and a pretty pale gold shade. It’s far easier to sling it across your shoulder, and the slightly longer look gives it a sleek mini shoulder bag feel. Despite having several bags with this feature (off the top of my head, the Mulberry Bayswaters, the Jaegar Kates, and the Oroton Odeion snake clutch), Kate never seems to use the chains on her clutches, and in fact rarely appears with a shoulder bag at all.

Inside

Inside, the bag is very similar to the Natalie – lined with a satin type fabric that has an internal pocket for credit cards, with the metal L.K. Bennett plaque attached.

Inside original

In the original, the plaque is attached with fabric, but the Nina has its plaque glued on. I also found it really difficult to fit my cards in the pocket, whereas the Natalie’s pocket was easy to get in and out of. Finally, perhaps a fault with my Nina, but the fabric was not glued rigidly to the corners of the bag, rather it had a smoothed effect where it felt like the fabric wasn’t reaching the edges, making the internal space a lot smaller than it should have been.

Fit inside

That said, what can you fit inside? Pretty much the same as the Natalie, to be honest – except the Nina is slightly better suited to the slimmer, longer phones of the current gen Samsungs and iPhones. You’ll be able to fit a phone, some credit cards, a lipstick and some change, but not a whole lot more.

Nina Trench 2

Overall, my impression of the Nina is that it’s an expensive bag considering it’s not as versatile as the Natalie – and considering the Natalie originally retailed at £140 (then £160) and the Nina starts at £185, the price per wear is going to be pretty high for me… Of course, the Nina is going to be a year-round clutch, whereas Natalie’s straw effect means it’s best used in spring and summer. And finally, the big question is going to be, does this new season trench match the old season’s taupe? The answer… No.

Trench vs Taupe

Trench is a much pinker-based nude than taupe’s yellow-based one. You can probably wear both together as they’re a close enough match, but they’re certainly not the same colour when you look closely. If you’ve purchased a pair of shoes from L.K. Bennett in trench, the Nina is probably going to be your best bet to match the colour!

Nina Trench

The Nina clutch is available here from L.K. Bennett for £185.

What do you think? Are you going to purchase one? Wait for a sale? Or skip this one all together? I’m still wondering whether or not to return mine…

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Game of Thrones Inspired Jewellery

If you’re a big Game of Thrones fan and you’d like to indulge in some retail therapy before the premiere of the new season this week, have I got a post for you! I love giving a subtle nod to some of my favourite shows and fictional characters in my outfits and accessories, so check out my picks for pieces to celebrate some of the most famous noble houses of Westeros!

House Baratheon

Baratheon

Red Hart Earrings, Clogau, £224

Pay homage to House Baratheon by celebrating the noble stag – Clogau also has some beautiful rings and pendants, all crafted from rose pink Welsh gold!

House Tyrell

Tyrell

Grecian Laurel-Leaf Bandeaux, Jennifer Behr, £250

Imagine the wind whipping through a golden field of corn, and the sun beating down on scented rosebeds. Celebrate the bounty of Highgarden with Jennifer Behr’s beautiful headpiece.

House Targaryen

Tessa Metcalfe pigeon grasp

Pigeon Grasp Ring, Tessa Metcalfe, £85

No one needs to know your dragon claws are merely pigeon’s feet. Just like Daenerys, fake it ’til you make it with Tessa Metcalfe’s gloriously quirky pigeon grasp rings!

House Lannister

Lannister

Large Lion Head Pendant, Azuni, £50

Hear me roar! Lannisters are famous for paying their debts, having loads of gold, and being really, really fond of lions. You can tick off at least two of those boxes with this fantastic lion’s head pendant, which also comes in a smaller version.

House Martell

House Martell

Timeless Rose Gold Vermeil Cuff, Links of London, £525

Distil the essence of Sunspear into a piece of jewellery and you’d get this elegant rose gold cuff from Links of London.

House Stark

Stark

Large Snowflake Pendant, Azuni, £50

The famously chilly home of the Starks, Winterfell, lends its icy grace to this delicate snowflake pendant from Azuni. I don’t think it’ll ward off any Boltons, though…

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