November 15, 2015

Saturday's shopping list: What to wear to work parties

As you know I like to make fun fashion-filled shopping lists on Saturdays, and originally I had planned to finish this post yesterday, but I spent most of my time since Friday night watching as news wires globally filled up with items about the attacks on Paris. I was born in Paris, and lived there as a student and in my early twenties, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

Like Beirut on Thursday, and before that Mumbai, London, Madrid, New York, ... this is a city of light which suffered a harsh blow, but I am sure that there shall always be light, love and help there despite the armies of darkness who would like to have us all disappear back into the Middle Ages... If it were up to me, well we'd keep partying and having a fabulous time, all the while bombing the hell  out of  the strongholds of the lunatics. And I am sure there is an increasing number of people who, like me, feel that the time for prayer, hope and wait-and-see is over, and that our governments should commit to action.

But hey, enough of this, I am sure you didn't come here to read my thoughts on recent events... How about we think about what to wear to those fabulous parties we will keep attending to shush the naysayers who would like to lock us all up?

One of everyone's key dates on the social calendar leading up to holidays is the office party, but also for a lot of us the client end-of-year cocktails, the team dinners etc. These are usually pleasant affairs, but unlike parties with friends and family they are slightly less relaxed: keep a gracious demeanour, look like you've made an effort but still look professional, try to steer away from the office gossip or the one who drinks a bit too much, don't be the one who drinks too much, etc etc...

First, you can never go wrong with classic black. It's the most flattering colour, it is easy to recycle, and it will look good in any occasion. I love a midi dress this season, and brocade is just gorgeous, isn't it? This would work well for a cocktail or black tie do, and is perfect for client events.
- Black brocade midi dress, Halston Heritage
- Fur collar, Mr & Mrs Italy
- Black silk clutch with crystal clasp, Wilbur & Gussie
- Black platform sandals, very Miu Miu like, but thankfully for my wallet, from Topshop

If, like me, you like something a little more interesting, then the Cosmo collection from Valentino pre-AW2015 is magical. It is a bit pricey, but, like the roses and almond blossoms from a few seasons ago at D&G, I am totally in love and I think I might splurge. It will look fabulous with navy heels (and tights please, a work party doesn't really call for bare legged and mini dressed...) and will be wonderful at a cocktail or a team dinner.
- Cosmo printed dress, Valentino
- Navy suede pointed toe pumps, Gianvito Rossi
- Yellow Metropolis mini bag, Furla

Finally, if you are more of a trousers kind of girl, then consider a jumpsuit. This one comes with an embellished bodice, and is strapless, perfect for the party feel but maybe you will want to keep your shoulders covered with a little tuxedo jacket, at least until everyone has had a few cups of champagne?
- Jumpsuit with embellished bodice, Reiss
- Jewelled box clutch, L.K. Bennett
- Cashmere and lace wrap, Lucy Nagle at
- Tuxedo jacket, Reiss
- Embellished pointed toe pumps, Jimmy Choo

So there, my little edit for work parties coming up... Do you have any pieces you're eyeing for your upcoming cocktails and client dos?

November 11, 2015

Tuesday's check mix overload

Hello dear friends... It's late, and I've just flown back from a day trip to Lisbon. I feel like my eyelids are closing down as I type, but yesterday's outfit was too much fun not to post about!

Now, have I ever told you how much I love tartans, checks, and all manners of woven patterns? I am not sure I have, but I have worn check on other posts over the years. For me they are a perfect pattern for Winter. So I am totally over the moon that check patterns are such a massive trend this season: from oversized scarves to lumber shirts and cigarette trousers, if you can name a piece of clothing you can probably find it with a check pattern this season!

I'm my case, I've been wearing my Sézane Irish Scarf almost non stop since the onset of the cooler days... With jeans, knit dresses, but always with block colours. Until, that is, this week. This week I decided to accessorize some check trousers with it. Too much checks? Maybe, ... but it's fun! And, looking at the pictures, well it does seem to have worked, what do you all think?

The colours all tie in together, from the bright red on the woven pattern to the patent stilettos, and the little leather jacket is a nice complement to the outfit, embedding it firmly in pure Britannia style, which just goes to show how well I've adopted my new home!

To finish it all off, I added my distressed 227 Chanel Reissue. It's my most chic rock-n-roll bag, and I love that it's so much more roomy compared with the more classic handbags at Chanel.

Outfit details below:
- Check trousers with zip details, Zara
- White top, just seen, Etro
- Cropped leather biker jacket, Whistles
- Red,green and white check wool shawl, Sézane
- Black distressed leather 227 reissue bag, Chanel
- Red patent stiletto heels, J.Crew

November 07, 2015

Saturday's shopping treat: A special discount at Milli Millu

You know how I love handbags, of course, it's the one item that perfects an outfit and even at times completely transforms it, where size doesn't matter, and where you get to haul your whole life around... These days, a good handbag also has to be practical, fit your lifestyle and of course allow you to haul your daily essentials without the need to carry a second one, and that, I must say, is exactly what the Milli Millu bags do.

Since discovering this gorgeous brand a few years ago, I must admit that noone has really come close when it comes to making fabulous lust-worthy handbags with a practical touch. I love the season-inspired colours, the luxe textures, and of course the styles which are oh-so modern and perfect.

And to be honest, so do a lot of fashionistas out there! It's quite impressive how many celebs, editors and bloggers you will spy wearing one of Mireia's creations. In fact a lot of the designs have become so popular they have a few weeks waiting list!

This season, I bought the Berlin, but I also love my Milan from last year and I have my eye on a little Aspen clutch trimmed with shearling for my winter soirees...

With all this in mind, isn't it absolutely wonderful that the sweet ladies at Milli Millu have given me a discount code for you all to use for a little sweetener on your next purchase?

Simply use LILAC15 in the code box at checkout for 15% off next time you visit. It's valid until November 30th so be quick! Shop here: Milli Millu.

November 01, 2015

Little Monsieur's Happy Halloween party

Anyone with children in London will know that Halloween has become huge over the last few years... For instance,the little pumpkin patch we go to every year, and which is usually very calm, was absolutely packed last Sunday when we went to get our haul, and when we took the children out trick or treating after our little party last night, the streets of Parsons Green were crawling with costumed little munchkins filling their buckets with goodies and sweeties...

In our household, it's always been a pretty big deal, seeing as it's my favourite celebration of the year, and of course Little Monsieur adores the opportunity to have his fill of candy, something he doesn't get the chance to do too often!

This year, we thought we'd host a little pre trick or treat party for Little Monsieur and his closest friends, and as usual I relished the chance to plan all the decorations and party food for this afternoon of spooky fun. You know me, I consider myself a bit of an expert internet shoppper, so all of the ordering for this party was yet again web-based, from the spider web plate chargers to the little milk bottles, the retro rosettes etc. Some items did entail a bit of research and it's a pity that I can't quote one website where I can conveniently find everything at once, but it is also a lot of fun putting the whole thing together.

I think the result was pretty cute, though it is true it took a bit of effort putting it all up, the kids loved the decorations and besides from the nasty stretchy spider webs, everything was relatively easy to install.

As usual, the cupcakes and cookies were prepared by Lucy at Vanilla Frostcakes, don't you just love how cute the ghost popcakes? Adorable! I also ordered some creepy gummy worms, chocolate cyclope eyes, and a whole farm of albino mice as the perfect accessories to my whiches lair, though the mice came with brown chocolate eyes, meaning I spent my breakfast piping red icing eyes on the little beasts to make them appropriately spooky.

We also had mummy sausage rolls, sea monster (tuna melt...) sandwiches, and some ogre farmyard groceries which most children didn't ignore, for once! Drinks were witches brew (water), ogre juice (apple juice with green colouring) and goblin's blood (again, apple juice, with red colouring).

One of the yummy mummies in attendance brought some super healthy Halloween flapjacks with orange drizzle from Deliciously Ella's recipe, they were delicious as well as diet-friendly, and looked fabulous, but as always once the munchkins descended on the party I didn't manage to take a single picture!

You'll notice most of the items are plastic, paper or wood, seeing as I  tried to keep everything toddler-friendly. It took a while for me to find milk bottles that looked pretty enough whilst being made of plastic, but I did manage in the end, and all it took was a little ribbon and a sticker matching the paper plates to tie in the whole look. Still, I love my vintage glass and china cake stands, they look fabulous on the table and most children will not knock them over when helping themselves to sugary treats.

Using the smaller pumpkins from our farmyard haul as stands for the pumpkins and swirly lollipops was dead easy, as their weight means they don't topple over under the pops.

Of course, one key aspect of any kids party is the entertainment, but this was a small enough event not to warrant us needing outside help. Instead we planned for three different activities for the children in addition to the pretend kitchen and shop that Little Monsieur keeps in our lounge.

First, we had "Make your own treat bag", with some little kits I ordered (you guessed it) online, made of a small paper bag and some stickers and googly eyes. It was a good game for the children who didn't have their own trick or treat buckets, though most children quickly enlisted the help of one of the mummies in attendance to outsource the project, the scheming little rascals!

We promptly moved on to "Potions and Brews" outside, with little cauldrons and a laboratory filled with magical ingredients (some water with food colouring and rice milk for the liquids, and sugar with food colouring for the powders, if you were wondering...). I think this was the little ones' favourite game, judging by how much time they spent around the cauldrons and how fast we ran out of the first batch of potions!

The last activity on offer was "Bling out your Pumpkin" with little green pumpkins and glittery foam stickers.

You know how little children love little more than sticking things on everything? From their schooters and bags to the walls and furniture, well this game was the perfect opportunity for them do it with everyone's ascent... and it meant no pumpkin carving, which is a big no no with children so young in attendance.

Talking of carving pumpkins... Hubby Dearest and I carved a whole family of Jack O'Lanterns for yesterday... for our little patio as well as our front door. They fit perfectly into the black, orange and white theme, which we tied in through the entrance with helium balloons weighed with the cutest Halloween characters, by Meri Meri. If you don't know Meri Meri by name, you've probably seen their products around, they make pretty, preppy and party go hand in hand, and  all of their party-ware is so drool-worthy it will make you want to organise your own kids parties presto (and then like me you'll find yourself trying to hang rosettes everywhere in your house only to wonder why you're doing this to yourself... it's all normal, don't worry!)

Of course no spooky goûter would have been complete without some little goodies to take home, so I ordered mini gumball machines,  I find children love the mechanics of them and though I was disappointed not to find orange gumballs to replace the original white ones, they looked sweet enough once adorned with a little baker's twine knot round them.

They looked cute dispersed round our little haunted house, another piece by the fabulous people at Meri Meri, complete with dug-up graveyard, ghosts, and its own in-house broomstick flying witch.

The little house was painstakingly assembled by Hubby Dearest and had a little sound box issuing a rather ominous witch cackle... It's meant to be a table centerpiece, but in reality it looked a bit tall to be standing in the middle of the table, so I thought it would look better as a backdrop piece instead.

Where I went partyware shopping:
- Paper plates and matching stickers, Zazzle
- Plastic mini milk bottles, Pretty Little Party Shop
- Striped and polka dot wooden party cutlery, Etsy
- Striped paper straws and napkins, Peach Blossom
- Mini gumball machines, Beau-Coup (I had to use polish remover to wipe out the label by the way)
- Balloons with spooky halloween weights, Meri Meri at Beau-Coup
- Voile, tulle and hessian fabrics, Shaukat
- Little cauldrons, Angels Fancy Dress

October 30, 2015

Thursday's is it too early for high boots?

Years ago, I used to think that over-the-knee boots were on the wrong side of the tacky line... then, about 18 months ago, I started reconsidering... Suddenly I liked them a lot, black, brown, grey, khaki... flat, heeled, but they had to be in suede. That is where I draw the line now: over-the-knee boots are ok, so long as is suede, not leather (who knows, ask me again next year and  I might have jumped on that bandwagon, though really I doubt my legs would look in a Mousquetaire type leather boot!).

Last year, you wouldn't have caught me dead in the office with over-the-knee boots and a skirt hitting right at the top of the boot: as you know I'm quite short, so that means the skirt can be categorised as mini, and I don't usually do mini, do I? But, these days I'm feeling confident, I've decided to like myself as I am, short legs and curves and all. So here I am, with over-the-knee boots and a slightly shorter than usual skirt! Of course this is a look for days with no client meetings, don't worry I'm still very mindful of dressing appropriately for my profession!

Looking at the dark colours of this outfit I wonder if it's perhaps a bit early in the year, especially considering I'll have a good five months of Winter weather to dress warmly for, but I couldn't wait one week more. I love wearing boots. For me, it's almost like wearing trousers with a skirt, I feel so much less exposed than with pumps!

These boots are called Highland, they are so comfortable with their medium heel and almond toe. I love wearing them. In my view they are far more elegant than the 5050 which has too square a toe for my liking.

I covered up lightly, with a ribbed cashmere mix top and my very old but very loved leather jacket with chain trim. All in it felt like a perfect outfit for what is becoming quite a chilly weather after all...

Outfit details:
- Ruffled stretch-jersey skirt, DKNY
- Cashmere mix ribbed short-sleeve top, Vince
- Chain-trimmed leather jacket, Tory Burch
- Suede over-the-knee boots, Highland by Stuart Weitzman
- Flannel and leather handbag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective

October 11, 2015

Online shopping... a life-saviour if you know where to go!

A few years ago, when I started this blog, one of the very first posts I wrote was about my "Online treasures", my favourite places for Internet shopping (how did I shop before the Internet?!) and since then I've regularly posted about cool web finds I've come across.

Now that I'm a full time working mum, I am busier than ever, and I have a thousand things to do at the week-end, from getting an overdose of cuddles to working out like a devil to shed the baby weight, making some fruit compote for Little Madame, and of course cooking Boeuf Bourguignon for a treat dinner (not at all contradictory with the working out item on my to-do list by the way, I am all for balance)... So falling over other shoppers in busy boutiques, asking overworked sales assistants for my size (don't you love how shop floors are often filled with size 8 clothes, when the customers browsing look anything but?) isn't at the top of my list.

But, as I am sure many of you have experienced, just because I don't have time or patience to go out shopping, doesn't mean I'm going to give up and wear Spring 2010 clothes until they fall to pieces. An obsessed fashionista doesn't change her leopard spots so easily, and I have become quite an expert in the best Internet shops, from childrenwear to designer shoes to cool home accents, there isn't a single thing I don't buy online these days, everything gets delivered neatly in bigger or smaller boxes, right to my door. Of course it does help that we have a nanny at home to take delivery of all these goodies, as having to schlep it to the Post Office or, worse, call some random delivery company to re-arrange deliveries is not really my cup of Lapsang.

So, what makes a good online shop in my view? Easy, all I need is...
1) A varied selection from the collections (it's really no good picking just three pieces from a collection, we don't all want to wear the same top!)
2) Browsing ease, with a search function, categories, etc. (also it's good that the website doesn't automatically reset your settings to some foreign locale...!)
3) Good inventory: don't you hate it when you click on that wonderful dress only for it to say Sold-Out?!
4) Good customer care, which can be contacted easily and which is really responsive... you'd be surprised how many online shopping sites don't provide even the most basic customer care...

My absolute favourite remains Net-A-Porter, this is the perfect destination for luxury collections, and whilst it is true that recently it has taken to being a little bit too high end, it remains my go-to for urgent "Ihavenothingtowear" situations, be it for work or events. I also love how fantastic their customer care is, it operates very long hours and the attendants are able to help you track down sold-out sizes and make ordering and returning a real dream. This site still gets five stars from me.

For all those items which are hard to track, sold out in the UK, or which aren't stocked in Europe (hello Ulla Johnson, I'm talking about your fabulous boho collections....), I turn to Farfetch: it does exactly what the name says, it fetches far to find your ultimate must-have and deliver it to you, wherever you are, within days. Think about an online department store filled with the best, most trendy boutiques in the world, all within reach of your finger tips. I ordered a skirt last Monday from a shop based in LA, it was with me by Thursday. Unbelievable.

Talking about reaching far to find that special piece, I adore Lane Crawford, it is based out of Hong Kong, but the collection is so incredibly well curated it has become a go-to online haunt for me, especially when I'm looking for super sought-after pieces which are often sold out everywhere. Their Isabel Marant selection, for instance, is out of this world...

That's it for this post's three websites you must have on your online shopping list. I think we should make this a little series, about online shopping, don't you think?

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

October 09, 2015

Thursday's office look: Spicy and playful

Since going back to work full time, I've tried to style myself a bit more seriously than usual, with loads of suits, neutral colours, and more office-classic outfits than before. I guess I'm growing up (and hopefully not getting old just yet...). That said, I still love to play with fashion but I find I tend to do it more with accessories and coats lately.

Take yesterday's outfit. At first it can look innocent enough, with the black and grey mix, but then there is the pop of red in my Tohu Bohu shawl and my suede platform sandals to add some spice and take it out of plain grey territory.

As you know I adore the transition into Autumn, and I'm so excited that the days are turning crisper. Note: I know that makes me quite a unique (crazy) person, as most people tend to hang on to warm weather like a free pair of Manolos, but I can't help it, sorry. The new season comes with new clothes, new entertaining opportunities, back to school days with Little Monsieur etc etc.

For transitional weather I quite like wearing my skirts with bare legs, it's still warm enough for it. I have been wearing my pleated faux leather skirt quite often these last two weeks, it's warm without being stuffy and isn't scratchy like a tweed skirt would feel on tights-less pins. It also allows for endless mixes. The other day I paired it with a silk blouse, a classic Mac and my favourite Hermès Nuit sandals, but yesterday it felt a bit cold so I brought out a finer knit jumper and my new peplum jacket for warmth and a patchwork of textures.

By the way, how do you feel about sandals in colder weather? Yes or no way? I for one love to wear sandals or peep toe shoes throughout the year. It means my tootsies sometimes get a bit cold but it is far too sad to keep sandals for warm days only, especially if you live in Freeze-land (sorry,  I mean London) like me...

Outfit details below:
- Faux leather pleated skirt, Urbancode at ASOS
- Peplum wool mix jacket, Carolina Herrera
- Fine knit Tippi sweater, J.Crew
- Felt and leather Trapeze bag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective
- Cashmere and silk Tohu Bohu shawl, Hermès
- Red suede sandals, L.K. Bennett, now sold out but these ones at ASOS are close

October 07, 2015

Wednesday's beauty essential: my super-easy make-up routine

If there has been one common theme in everyone's comments in the last few weeks, it's been about my make-up... Lots of lovely readers have written in to comment on how nice it looked and so I'm finally writing a little post about my make-up.

To be fair, I must give a disclaimer up front: whilst it's true that my make-up smooths my complexion tremendously, I feel my skin is more translucent lately as a result of a packed work-out routine (at least four sessions a week, mixing personal training, reformer, power yoga and swimming) and a very streamlined diet (virtually no refined sugars except for the odd treat). I feel this is key.

Second key point for me: I wake up each morning at 5:30am. I don't have time to spend one hour on my make-up, period. At most, I have 15 minutes to get my face on, and on to my kitchen to pack a thermos of lemon water for the ride to work and my Nutribullet breakfast smoothie.

Now, what do I do during those 15 minutes, you ask? Well, it's all about trying to get as perfect a complexion as possible, one that actually makes people forget I function on five hours of sleep per night, tops.

Step 1: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize... I use a glycolic acide enhanced moisturizer by PH Advantage, and absolutely no primer, as the silicone particles can make even the best foundations curdle.

Step 2: Bring on the concealer salad. Over the years, I've decided that my skin doesn't like just one shade and one texture of concealer, instead it prefers a mix of concealers. Under my eyes and to smooth out my smile lines, I use either By Terry's Touche Veloutee or YSL's Touche Eclat as highlighter (the latter is more watery so I prefer it for days when there is less sins to hide), and for the imperfections, little stress pimples etc, I dab on a mix of Eve Lom concealers, to achieve the good shade for my skin. By the way, I find fingers outperform any possible tool you can use at this point, as it means you are working everything into the skin, not just painting it over...

Step 3: Foundation time! I've been in love with Bare Minerals' Bare Skin foundation for a while now, it is like a magical film which comes with a little round brush to stretch it to the corners of your face, before settling into a powdery smooth finish. It comes in loads of tints as well, meaning it works for lots of people. The only thing I don't like about it? The bottle is quite fidgety and sometimes it takes a little long for me to manage to get a drop out (one drop is all you need to cover the whole face!) On days off, I replace this by mixing some tinted SPF from Kiehls into my moisturizer, for speed.

Step 4: I said glow, not shine. Some mornings my skin feels like it will turn shiny before I've driven my Smart into Chelsea, so I tend to top up my foundation with a mix of Eve Lom mineral powders (again, I mix for the perfect shade). I don't do it all the time, but it does help set everything.

Step 5: Now, Photoshop! I'm kidding, don't worry. To add glow I swipe some of my Hourglass highlighting powder above my cheekbones (or where they should be), over the bridge of my nose, and in the middle of my forehead. And finally, I pat some YSL blur over the T-zone to avoid any unsightly shine for the whole day, and this, my friends, is exactly like Photoshop, right there in the palm of my hand.

Step 6: Finishing touches. I don't wear eye shadow all the time, but when I do I always turn to muted shadows, and these days I'm loving my Bare Minerals palette. I have a few blushers on tap, depending on how bright or muted I want to go, and same goes for my lipstick or gloss. It's all about having fun, isn't it?

My shopping list:
- Touche Veloutee concealer, By Terry
- Touche Eclat highlighter, YSL
- Brilliant Cover concealer, Eve Lom
- BareSkin foundation, Bare Minerals
- Mineral Powder,Eve Lom
- Ambient Lighting palette, Hourglass
- Touche Eclat Perfector Powder, YSL

So there you have it, my make-up routine during the week... It took a while to find one that works, and it does hinge on mixing and matching, but it's really easy.

September 29, 2015

Friday's sailor stripes and cherry patent stilettos

I'll admit, I'm having a culottes moment. I know this is very 1970s of me, but I love the practical elegance of a skirt-trousers hybrid, it's just so easy to wear. At first I was a bit daunted by the midi length, and maybe some will find I look a bit short in them, but I actually like it, again I find it easy.

Last week I debuted these cream culottes, a find from the Massimo Dutti shop at Barcelona Airport. They are a nice heavy wool-rich material, which makes them perfect for the colder weather we've been having. Cream makes them look a bit sophisticated, but this is a hard colour to maintain: they had to go straight to the dry-cleaners after just one wear, thanks to a tiny speck of coffee I spilled whilst reading the morning news online... (or maybe I'm just clumsy).

Not only is cream not the easiest colour, it is also not particularly slimming... but I love how it provides a perfectly versatile canvas for many different colours. Last week I tried it with quite a Gallic mix of sailor stripes and the brightest cherry patent heels I could find in my wardrobe. This top is quite ancient, I bought it more than seven years ago, but it's a testament to its quality that it still looks impeccable, whilst other more affordable tops from the same period have long fallen to pieces, proof that some brands have a quality well worth paying for.

The shoes have an interesting story. Last year, in the midst of my pregnancy with Little Madame, I suddenly decided I needed red patent stilettos in my life (even though with feet swollen to the size of a baby elephant's leg there was no way I was going to wear them then), but I couldn't find the perfect ones. I needed a deep cherry red, a tint darker than the ubiquitous lipstick red, which I find a bit "common", but not burgundy. Also I wanted a perfect pointed toe with heels high enough to make a statement but not so high that I couldn't walk in them. It took me a good few weeks to track down the perfect pair, but in the end J.Crew came to the rescue.

Outfit details below:
- Off-white wool culottes, Massimo Dutti Limited Edition
- Navy cotton-blend trench coat, Mango
- Off-white top with navy and pewter stripes, topped with gold buttons, Joseph
- Red patent heels, J.Crew
- Navy Sac de Jour in smooth leather, Saint Laurent

September 27, 2015

Whoop whoop, we're having a Halloween party!

It may seem early, but in my household Halloween prep tends to start really early... especially as Little Monsieur is as excited about the celebration as I am, though I suspect he cares more about the collection of sweeties in his Trick or Treat bag than the costumes and the decorations... This year, we'll be having a small gathering of his friends for a Haunted Tea Party followed by a round of the neighbourhood for the afore-mentioned collecting of sweets. 

I'll blog about the party later, with lots of pics and source, but I thought I'd share some ideas of where to shop for some cute supplies if, like me, you have a Halloween-obsessed household.

First up, the costumes. I love going to Pottery Barn Kids for these: they are made of beautiful sturdy material which doesn't come apart the moment the children step out of the house, and the designs are gorgeous and extremely suitable for children. The designs vary each year, and over the years we got some gorgeous costumes, such  Max from Where The Wild Things Are we got a couple of years ago. Of course they offer the ubiquitous super-hero costumes, but theirs are childlike and fun, unlike the monstrosities one can order from the likes of Amazon. The only downside of PBK is that it is US-based, and the orders go through Borderfree, hence I tend to order Little Monsieur's costumes by the end of September to avoid delays in shipping...

More locally, NotOnTheHighStreet is another great website for children's costumes.

For the decorations, I'll be shopping online again, a mix of Etsy, Amazon, The Pretty Little Party Shop etc etc.

September 25, 2015

Friday's treat lunch: Sticks'n'Sushi Canary Wharf

Some weeks start bad, go worse, and then just end up smelling of plain horse manure... for me, this week was just one of those. It started with some losses at work, followed by excessive travel induced illness (I did end up in hospital in Lisbon yesterday, how very dramatic of me), and finished with me so tired of the usual office politics that I've spent today wondering whether I'm right to spend so much time away from my little ones only to bear such a large circus of fools on a full time basis... Maybe the only fool here is me...

Thankfully, for days and weeks like this there is only one answer, good friends, and I am lucky enough to have made a few along the many years of working in the same job. That's quite convenient, seeing as I've moved to London at a very young age and spent most of the first years at my desk, so it's lucky I made such good friends along the way! One such friend and I managed to have today's lunchtime unexpectedly free from calls and client commitments, so we went round to our local Sticks'n'Sushi to try out their fabulous Danish take on sushi cuisine.

Admittedly, I've been on a nutrient focused calorie controlled diet since the beginning of the month, so this much white rice is a little out of the prescribed food list, but, honestly, sometimes a girl needs carbs. In my case, there are no commitment-phobe boyfriends (instead, just one gem of a Hubby Dearest, with me for 14 years, what a saint), no particular material worries, and no pipe leaks... just one pretty stressful job in what can be a very female-unfriendly environment. Bottom line, if there is a day I am going to indulge, it had to be today!

The moment our matcha powder teas appeared, complete with whisking ceremony and bright green foam, I could feel the stress float away (not too far, but still...). We had a real feast of sushi with fish so fresh anymore and it would have jumped off the platters, and a few yakitori skewers for good measure. I haven't had something so delicious in Canary Wharf since the first time I ate at Roka (the other Japanese on the Isle of Dogs, the aptly named).

The food was fabulous and prompt to arrive. It was a lovely Friday lunch, not as quick as I would need for the beginning of the week, when lunch is usually a salad wolfed down above my keyboard in a minute, but just perfect for a day when I direly needed to slow down.

The service was a bit hit and miss, but very friendly. It was just a bit difficult to get the attention of the waiters...

Sticks'n'Sushi has four locations in London, including:
Canary Wharf
Crossrail Place
London E14 5AR

September 16, 2015

Tuesday's feminine take on formal corporate style

If you were to ask someone to describe the typical banker, they would probably cite a suit, pinstripes, a formal shirt,... not sure they would go on to add ruffled raspberry stilettos and a bijou handbag with silk covered handles. Ha!

Maybe the first reason for that is that our biased minds always think of bankers are being mainly male, but also because it can seem difficult to instill some femininity into a very masculine style. Exactly what I decided to attempt a few days ago on a day filled with meetings.

As you know if you've been reading my posts over time, I am a big fan of Theory suits, in fact they are the only ones I seem to own these days, especially for Summer, as they do the best light wool tailoring, in my view. I have them in grey, navy and black, and they are both elegant and easy. I adore the modern collar shape, and I love that the cropped length of the trousers hits just at my ankles, which is the ideal way to showcase my beloved shoes, right?

Talking about shoes... this pair is one of my favourite in my closet at the moment, but I must tell you how I came to own them. A few months ago, half way through my second pregnancy and feeling both miserable and sick, I was asked by a client to go to Abu Dhabi on what we call a non deal roadshow in my job, ie a day of meetings with investors. Alas, there aren't as many active investors for what I had to discuss in Abu Dhabi, so we had plenty of free time. At the end of the short day, my clients went for a swim, something that sounded totally unpalatable to the very grumpy pregnant moo that I was, and so I went to the little mall underneath the hotel (how convenient!) and quickly discovered the most marvelous little gem of a Manolo Blahnik shop. These were love at first sight, although the shop was incredibly well stocked, compared with the ones in Europe, so it was almost tempting to take a few... Seeing how much I adore this gorgeous pair, I now wish I had also bought them in a different colour! By the way, the shoes barely fit my inflated pregnant feet but I decided to take a leap of faith... (that statement just sums me up, doesn't it?)

There you have it, my attempt at feminine business formal:
- Navy light wool suit, Theory
- Striped silk shirt, from last year, but this Equipment one is very close
- Raspberry and grey ruffle stilettos, Manolo Blahnik
- Birkin and silk twillies (around the handles), Hermès

September 14, 2015

A morning at Harrods Moroccan Hammam

I consider myself to be very lucky in life... No just because I have the privilege to live in a vibrant city, or because I have a filling life with a gorgeous family and a job that I enjoy, or because I don't live in one of the far too numerous places where women are constantly threatened and live in fear for their lives and their children's... I do value each and every single one of these blessings, of course, but one of the biggest happinesses in my life is having fantastic friends who are fiercely loyal and know to step in when I need them.

See, I don't consider myself a lots-of-friends kind of person... My close friends are few and far between, but the few I have I would do everything for, and I like to think they would do the same for me.

Recently, just a couple of months after my daughter was born, one of my girlfriends, Little Monsieur's godmother, texted in to check in... I was slightly frazzled and tired at having to juggle a tiny baby, breastfeeding, lack of sleep, and working from home. As if by radar, she guessed I needed a treat, so she promptly booked us in for a morning of treatments at the Harrods Moroccan Hammam.

For the first time since moving to London, I was finally able to enjoy a completely Moroccan hammam treatment, it felt like being back home... only in a far more luxurious setting than the neighbourhood baths my Dada would take me to once every few weeks when I was a small child.

From the luxurious changing rooms to the marble-decked wet rooms, everything here screams luxe, but in a beautiful, almost understated way (I mean this isn't a Balinese spa, by any means... there are copper taps and velvet sofas everywhere, but you get my meaning, this isn't a garish fake-oriental get-up). The marble lattice dividing the open wet areas, creating a private space without stopping conversation with my friend, totally won me over with its beauty.

The treatment is 100% traditional... As soon as we were robed in the fluffiest cotton ever, we moved into the warm resting room, where we sat for a moment, getting used to the temperature whilst chatting away the week (City deals for my friend, baby nappies and conference calls for me...). Then we moved into the wet room, where we were taken by two kessalas who then covered us in black olive oil soap, divinely smelling by the way, not the cheap kind... This was left to sit on the steaming skin for a short while, then brushed off with a kessa glove to exfoliate the skin until it was left gleaming (and slightly pink, but that's a temporary effect...!)

Once all the dead cells were washed away with some warm water, we went off to the relaxation room (home of the super plush velvet sofas), where we had tea, dried fruit, nuts and cue more chatter. Soon enough it was time for our follow-on treatments, a massage for my friend and a facial for me.

It was by far one of my favourite Saturday mornings in the last months. I will be back! A., if you're reading this, thank you again, you are a true friend and knew exactly what was needed, I can't say how grateful I am.

Find out more about the Harrods Moroccan Hammam here: Urban Retreat Moroccan Hammam at Harrods.

September 13, 2015

Little Monsieur's Outer Space party

As my long-time followers will know, one of the many reasons I have been busy over the Spring and Summer season this year is I've been focusing on my little ones, and one of the major things on my to-do list as usual was Little Monsieur's annual party. This year he asked for an Astronaut Outer Space theme... so I spent most of June thinking up cosmic decorations and organizing space-themed delicacies.

Things I made myself included the gravity-defying cupcake stand... That was hard work! Covering six styrofoam cylinders with arts and crafts foam, then decorating it with washi tape, and finally balancing the layers so it looked like it was off-centered. I also made some planets out of styro spheres which I spray-painted to use as stands for the rocket cookie pops. Blast-off guaranteed! (Incidentally the floor stones in our patio remained a bit more colourful than usual as a result of the spray-painting session, but thankfully the relentless London rain washed everything out).

The table settings were easy... Once I located and ordered a whole roll of isolating bubble foil (yes, I did go a bit over-board yet again... now we have 80% of said roll left, I suggested Hubby Dearest redo the isolation in the eaves, he was not amused), it was easy to cut out the chair covers and the place settings. I used the little cut-offs to make water bottle wrappers, for the extra cosmic feel... We sprinkled some silver glitter on the tables to make sure we were up with the stars and comets. The kiddies loved the space station look, and the curly straws in their clear cups were a hit with everyone!

I also made some foam photo props that I was hoping to put on the kiddies for pictures against the starry background or the kid-size rocket we had ordered, but they had such fun with the entertainer we had that those barely got touched... (and this is when my nanny reminds me that sometimes I do a bit too much and really shouldn't have bothered). This is a mistake that I will not do again!

For food we had the gorgeous cookies and cupcakes by Lucy at Vanilla Frost Cakes, she is still my favourite cake-maker in London whenever there is a party to prepare for. I also made Mars pizzas (inspired by the planet, not the candy chocolate bar), some Rocky savoury muffins, and ticked the health box with fresh veggies and fruit (which the children diligently ignored, what a surprise).

For decorations I had ordered a photo scene setter from Etsy, it was so cute to sit all the children in front of it for the entertainment. I laid some of the isolation roll on the floor to make it all a bit more cushion-y. Above the tables, we had some giant agathe balloons to act as floating planets. The little favor boxes were standard take-away boxes filled with Milky Way mini bars, Alien jumpers, Space themed stickers and stamps, decorated with some more washi tape and bespoke stickers.

We had a wonderful entertainer from Bedazzled Events, who kept the children busy with games, songs and balloon sculptures. He and Little Monsieur had almost the same astronaut costume, much to the delight of my little man.

I promise I will add sources tomorrow... Right now I need to go and lay out tomorrow's clothes and catch some sleep before another week begins!

Update: here are the sources as promised!
- Bright Stars 10' by 10' digital printing backdrop, GladsBuy at Etsy
- Silver cardboard rocket playhouse, Paperpod
- Blue stripe party plates and napkins, Cake Girls
- Blue Planet cupcake wrappers, YourlittleCupcake at Etsy
- Wriggly straws, Krazy Straws
- Art & craft foam, washi tape, isolation bubble foil, clear cups, etc., all from Amazon
- Cupcakes and sugar cookies, Vanilla Frost Cakes
- Everything else on the food buffet was homemade

September 12, 2015

Saturday's off-duty look for an afternoon at the playground

I have spent most of this week travelling and working my not so small backside (though I am working on that too... I promise) off and I haven't had much opportunity to write posts or take outfit pictures... hence I was really excited this afternoon when the sun came out this afternoon. I was looking forward to taking Little Monsieur to the playground without braving the elements, but also, I'll admit, this meant I would have the opportunity to coax Hubby Dearest into taking some outfit pics...

Playground styling is totally different from office styling for me. Adios sky-high heels, tailored pieces and heavy totes, hello boho cuts, prints and hands-free bags! Thankfully Little Monsieur is big enough that I don't need to be as much as helicopter parent as a couple of years ago, but still, flats are an absolute must when going to the playground.

Of course, if you know me, you know that doesn't mean just pulling out some old Converse trainers (which I find, by the way, extremely uncomfortable); I do try a little bit harder, even though comfort is the ultimate priority. This is the main reason why I fell in love with these Isabel Marant lace-up ballerinas: they are gorgeous and apparently super hot right now, if I'm to believe the sales assistant at least, but they also fit like slippers.

By the way, allow me to introduce my new Jypsière...  It's my most recent bag, a new baby gift from Hubby Dearest, and it is perfect for days when I'm out and about with the children. The colour is Rouge Hermès, a muted red which only looks bright in full daylight. I had been thinking about getting a bag which would add a splash of colour to my black or grey outfits, and here it is, perfect red. It's the smaller size, 28cm, so for me it's ideal and not too heavy. I am in love!

This is exactly my typical off-duty style: flats, jeans, a cute jacket and hands-off accessories. Of course this one outfit does group some of my favourite pieces together so I thought it was worth a little post. How about you? Do you have any go-to off-duty outfits?

Before I go, some details about this outfit:
- Embellished jacket, Isabel Marant (from years ago)... try Vestiaire Collective for the same model
- Skinny off-black jeans, J Brand
- 28cm Jypsière in Rouge H clemence leather and cashmere silk shawl, both Hermès
- Isabel Marant's Leo lace-up ballerinas are selling out fast, but you can find them at Lane Crawford
- Sunglasses, Sun Buddies
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