My weight-loss history: a concrete goal is the key

Right, I promised I’d tell you what I’ve been up to this past week and a half, weight-loss wise, but actually, I think the best way to start this ongoing journey is to give a bit of context. The last time I embarked on a successful weight loss project, I was losing weight for my wedding. I ended up going from around 10-11 stone to just over 8 (around 160lbs to 118lbs). The secret of my success really boiled down to one thing – an immovable, unyielding deadline. I hated the way I looked and I wanted to look as good as I could on my wedding day – for me, that meant losing weight (and learning how to use make-up properly!).

The last time I embarked on a successful weight loss project, I was losing weight for my wedding. I ended up going from around 10-11 stone to just over 8 (around 140-150lbs to 118lbs). The secret of my success really boiled down to one thing – an immovable, unyielding deadline. I hated the way I looked and I wanted to look as good as I could on my wedding day – for me, that meant losing weight (and learning how to use make-up properly!).

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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.

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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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Friday Lust List: SW Corkswoon Wedges in Bisque

Any self-respecting Duchess of Cambridge fan like myself should have a clear opinion on two of her most divisive shoe choices: the ubiquitous nude L.K. Bennett Sledges, and the blue suede Corkswoons from Stuart Weitzman. Personally, I love (and own!) both pairs, so when I was idly browsing Stuart Weitzman’s EU site and saw that there were a bisque pair on sale, I jumped at the chance to nab them!

Stuart Weitzman Wedges

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7 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Cutie Pie

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Today it’s Cutie Pie! In the bottle, it’s a solid baby pink hue, but it actually goes on very sheer, giving your nails a French manicure look. Here’s what the Ciate website says about this creme: “A soft, girly pink. Apply one coat for a hint of pink gloss on your nails or three coats for clean light pink hue.”

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I’m wearing three coats in this photo, and it’s still very sheer. It was also hard to apply without streaks, but I think I just about managed it. This is the kind of colour I wouldn’t pick up usually, but after applying it I realised that I already have a very similar colour (French Rose from Rimmel) that I bought to do French manicures! I don’t think this sheer colour suits my damaged nails, but if yours are in good condition it’s a lovely neutral tone. Very romantic and subtle – good for weddings, maybe!
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6 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Angel Wings

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Day six of the Mini Mani Month, and today’s colour is Angel Wings, a pretty, shimmery white. Ciate says: “The perfect pretty pearl. Clean fresh and perfect for the ultimate high fashion look. Team with your cropped jacket and pearls for a finish of class and luxury.”

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In all honesty, I found this hard to apply – it was quite streaky and I needed three coats to get rid of all traces of my nail colour. Also, because my nails often peel (ugh, I know), the shimmer caught the imperfections of my nails and showed them up, rather than helping to conceal them.

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That said, the colour is very pretty and pearlescent, especially under soft lighting.

I had a Christmas present delivery today for my sister in law, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding a little something for myself too (the old one for me, one for you rule, I’m sure you’re familiar with it…) – a lovely new bottle of Pirouette My Whistle from OPI, which is part of the New York City Ballet collection, but is also beautiful for frosty, winter nails! It’s a subtle glitter in a clear top coat, with white hexagonal shapes inside (tricky to get those to stay on my nails, but I persevered!).

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I think it adds the perfect festive finish to these nails – an extra dimension of Christmassy-ness!

How to theme your royal wedding party menu

Tea in a Meißen pink-rose teacup

Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to preparing your menu for your Kate and William wedding-watching party, I reckon there are a few themes you could employ to keep the nosh in the spirit of the day.

My personal choice is the English afternoon tea idea – you can’t get much more patriotic than cucumber sandwiches and scones. It’s also ideal for a buffet as it’s all finger food. Take inspiration from some of London’s great hotels which offer afternoon tea – you can read the Ritz’s menu here. I’m thinking smoked salmon sandwiches, fairy cakes (not cupcakes, fairy cakes are more English), and plenty of nice china. Oh, and doilies – I’ve already bought mine from eBay (to avoid the rush, dontchaknow).

A more alternative idea is to page homage to the location where the happy couple were engaged – Kenya! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pin down Kenyan cuisine or get some of the staple ingredients, but a quick look online should help. You could try serving some exotic animals instead (there’s an online butcher here) – I’ve seen loads of episodes of Come Dine With Me recently where they’ve been chowing down on zebra, for some reason!

Perhaps you could try a menu composed of Will’s childhood favourites? Sadly, we have no idea what Kate Middleton enjoyed eating as a child (WHY NOT? Did no one THINK to ask her this vital question?) so this idea seems a little lopsided to me, but hey. I seriously doubt that cottage pie as most people know it will be gracing the banqueting tables (although I wouldn’t put it past a chef to try a ‘deconstructed’ version or some such nonsense), but it would make for a nice, easy hot buffet lunch. And pate and smoked salmon canapes – and champagne… I can do that!

You could always try to replicate some previous Royal weddings. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) enjoyed a meal of Consommé à la Windsor, Suprèmes de Saumon Reine Mary, Côtelettes d’Agneau Prince Albert, Chapons à la Strathmore, and Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth in 1923. In 1947 for the marriage of Prince Philip and our present Queen, diners enjoyed “Filet de Sole Mountbatten; Perdreau en Casserole, Haricots Verts, Pommes Noisette and Salade Royale; Bombe Glacee Princesse Elizabeth; Friandises; Dessert”. However, I’m not sure harking back to Will’s parents’ wedding would be in the best of taste, so best to avoid the dishes that appeared at their wedding breakfast in 1981: brill in lobster sauce, chicken breasts garnished with lamb mousse and strawberries with Cornish cream. Mind you, that last dish sounds pretty good…

Considering it’s, y’know, just another wedding (in the grand scheme of things, anyway), you could just serve your idea of fantasy wedding fayre. If you’re already married, maybe serve a few of the dishes you enjoyed on your big day. If you’re not married, maybe come up with some things you’d love to have for your wedding. Or just go with your classic wedding breakfast menu, which seems to be pate, soup or melon for starters, overcooked chicken breast in a mushroom sauce for your main, and something gooey and chocolatey for pudding (this is based on my memories of weddings past and looking through FAR too many brochures for my own wedding!) And don’t forget that wedding cake…

Finally, you could serve something based on the couple’s actual meal. No information is available about this yet, but there’s loads of speculation online. This is a particularly good article (and here) that details previous wedding menus and discusses some British produce that could be served – nab some ideas!

A quick Jamie Oliver menu idea for your royal wedding party

The custom of afternoon tea and scones has its...

Image via Wikipedia

For my wedding watching party, I’m thinking classic English tea party – cucumber sandwiches, Victoria sponge, scones and a great big teapot full of tea! But there’s a great menu in Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals which would be perfect for adapting to a wedding watch party; his British Picnic, which features sausage rolls, mackerel pate, asparagus crunch salad and Pimm’s Eton Mess. In fact, I might steal some of these dishes for myself… they sound awesome! The sausage rolls have fennel seeds and sesame seeds added to them, the pate features horseradish sauce along with the mackerel, lemon and cream cheese, and the crunch salad has watercress, pickled onions and pear… Interesting! It’s on page 252, if you’re up for it…