07/02/2016

So, how was your week?

February has started in full stride, and I'm still documenting my week's goings on on Instagram, and this week I kept my resolve to push all the negativity away and really focus on moving onward and hopefully upward!

I did manage to take a few (too many?) pictures of my food, which is a nice way to share healthy clean recipes, such as green smoothies, my week-end porridge, which I love topping up with fruity compotes and nuts these days... Thankfully I didn't spend my week just eating! Just take a look below...


I  also managed to pack six work-outs in my week: two sessions at Psycle (which I managed to blog about finally!), one burning class at Kobox, a little Pilates with Giada at Heartcore, and of course my weekly Saturday morning with Nadine. This morning, I had originally planned to go back to Kobox, as I love Maciella's classes, but my whole body was so sore it felt smarter to go for a session at The Power Yoga Company: a warmer practice, focused on a more energetic yoga with quick transitions. So still a work-out, but one where I had time to focus on my breath and stretching my muscles. And, as I sit here typing this post, it feels like that was the right decision, as I am starting to feel my legs again, just in time for tomorrow's Psycle ride...!

I did do a little bit of shopping in the last few days, as evidenced by post Number 2 in this week's Instagram feed, and to be fair that, together with the endorphins from sports, has been a great boost to my morale. But then for an extra good mood lifter, I spent Friday mostly at home, where I could enjoy my little baby girl almost un-disturbed (bar the odd conference call, you can't change a leopard's spots etc.) Look at her trying to reach for my fashion coffee table books!

At the week-end it was mainly about family, we went down to the Hurlingham club for Saturday afternoon, in matching New Balance shoes for Little Monsieur and me, and then I took the bull by the horns and gave my bathroom drawers a massive clear-out and reorganisation, before giving the same treatment to my activewear drawer. It felt so wonderful to clear all the clutter it warranted a little treat, so I took off to SpaceNK for new skincare...

Next week we'll be wandering off  to the French Alps for mid-term, hence my #ThrowBackThursday post about last year's ski holidays with bump; I don't need to tell you how much I'm looking forward to actually doing some skiing this year! And that, my friends, was my week in pictures. How about you? How was your week?

04/02/2016

How Psycle changed my mind about indoor cycling

I hate spinning. There, it’s out there. The only spinning class I attended was over ten years ago, at the David Lloyd gym that I used to frequent lazily before marriage, babies, and life took a swirling pace which ultimately left me quite unfit and a couple of numbers above my ideal dress size (if I only knew then what I know now…) And that spinning class was simply horrible, boring, exhausting and truly put me off spinning for good.

So, when Nadine, aka the wonderful trainer who puts me through my paces on the Model Method at ThePilatesPT, suggested I try Psycle for a great cardio work-out in a super convenient format (45 minutes sessions, just a couple minutes away from my office), I snorted, then vehemently vowed I would never set my bottom on a stationary bike out of my own accord. Ha ha. All it took was a free class which one of my younger (and fitter, dare I admit it) colleagues signed me up for in late December, and I was hooked. Really. Since then, I have been at least twice a week, sometimes more if my schedule allows it.



What’s the hype? The work-out is unlike anything I had imagined. The room is dark with neon lights, very much like a nightclub (I know, this is quite the trend it seems, see my post on Kobox), only the floor is occupied by rows of stationary bikes and instead of a “DJ booth” there is a little platform with a bike with some overhead lighting for the instructor, so the class can follow what is going on. After I manage to click my special shoes on the pedals, something which took me a few sessions of practice, I’ll admit (don’t judge, yesterday I did a class where the guy next to me gave up unclipping the shoes and just left them there, so it is a common issue at first…), I start pedaling to warm up, and, as soon as the session starts we are all told to follow the beat: right, left, right, and so on. And that, my darlings, is what I love about this class: between pedaling to the beat and the rhythmic upper body movements, this looks and feels very much like dancing on a bike. If you’re the instructor or one of the expert trainees, that is… In my case I think I must look more like a spastic seal dripping in sweat trying to cycle for dear life, but who cares, it’s dark and I’m not here to look good!

Each of the classes I have been to includes some speed intervals (to get the heart going and the little chubby pockets melting, thank you very much), strength work where you push the resistance of the bike up until your legs pretty much refuse to push, and lots of fun upper body work including some weights towards the end. Throughout, the instructor reminds you to stay focused and let go of whatever negativity has crowded your day, a welcome reminder in my case, seeing as my mind tends to drift back to mull over grey thoughts, pretty much all the time. I have come to think of some of the sections as meditation, on a bike. Each instructor has their own playlist and gives a different vibe to the class, after a few visits I know which ones suit me best. By the end of 45 minutes it feels like my whole body has been given a pretty hard ride inside a tumble-dryer, but the sense of achievement and peace is pretty high!



By the way, the space in itself is pretty fantastic as well, very modern and sleek in an industrial kind of way. They have the coolest (if a bit small at crowded times) changing rooms I have seen in a while, complete with Bumble & Bumble products and GHDs for all the hair-conscious riders out there, and lockers which are big enough to accommodate my massive LLBean tote with all my day’s necessities, and then some. As you come out there is a little energy kitchen where you can order some pretty delicious restorative smoothies, perfect for a breakfast on the go after my Thursday morning session when I don’t really have time for much more before heading to the office.

If you’re looking for a super effective and convenient work-out to fit around your busy schedule, then Psycle is for you.  The classes are available to purchase online by packages with no membership fee, so it's not too onerous to try a couple to see if this is your thing; you can book online, the schedules go online every Monday at lunchtime (a pretty popular time for the website which did crash this week!). Don’t be put off by how tough the first class will seem, by class two it will already be much easier and at class five you’ll be breezing through (sort of…)

Check it out here: http://psyclelondon.com/

02/02/2016

Tuesday... It's February so surely it's ok to bring a ski sweater to work?

Hurray, January is over, welcome February! Just as drab and cold, but interspersed with romance (of the commercial variety, but still), new collection launches, and of course, my favourite, holidays in the snow...

I am literally counting the days until we leave London for a few days on the beautiful slopes of Courchevel. So yes, if today's outfit is anything to go for, I might be just a tiny bit obsessed with thoughts of après-ski, spiced tea, and, yes, the obligatory cheesy dish (Nadine, if you're reading, I am allowed a little treat here and there, right?)


Today's jumper was love at first sight, from the moment I saw it on a window in the middle of a sweltering August day... The braiding detail, together with the pristine colour, I was hooked. I thought a while about what to wear it with for the office, and whilst the outfit I ended up with might not be a winner for all, I have to say I loved it. Mainly because it felt so comfortable and different.


Intuitively the grey flannel culottes and coat look like an easy match for the jumper, and they even match the body and flaps of my handbag. Grey and white, easy. But then you'd have expected me to wear this with my grey flannel Louboutin simple pumps, instead I went in a completely different direction and opted for these animal print lace-ups instead. You have to agree, they pop! But what I loved about this is how they turn a pretty safe outfit into something far more fun altogether...


Anyways, back on the culottes for a moment: still my favourite alternative to classic trousers or skirts, so convenient and easy. I hope they don't go back out of fashion, or I risk becoming one of those people who is unfashionably in their own style... We shall see.


I topped up with a now old favourite from my coat closet, my wool trench coat from the Burberry AW2011 collection. It is the perfect investment piece, and the military tailored style doesn't really go out of fashion, allowing me to wear it on and on. In fact Burberry make a few versions of this coat every season, a derivative from the traditional mac, and look how cool it still looks, all those decades later.









See below for outfit details:
- Off-white roll neck jumper with braid detailing, Karen Millen
- Grey culottes, Club Monaco, look at these by ASOS for the same look
- Coat, Burberry, this Tomas Maier one is very close (and on sale!)
- Lace-up Alice booties, in Hyena, Charlotte Olympia
- Bag, Céline at Vestiaire Collective

31/01/2016

So, how was your week?

Looking at my first Instagram post of the week, I bet many of you can relate to the mood I started my week on: often in my professional life I am reminded of gender differences... Funny, considering it's 2016 and really this shouldn't be the case, but alas they are there. For instance, the way a man and a woman will describe their role in a project and then the intensity with which they publicise it around. There's a major difference. So, in the end, it's no wonder some are understood to have done more, is it? Especially when people tell you how perception is such a large part of how people evaluate you (and here I was thinking it was performance, ha). And yet, managers everywhere regularly claim there is no such thing as a gender pay gap... Sure, I'll pretend to believe that...

Thankfully, my days have been very busy, enough for me not to dwell on the negatives, I am keeping with my new year's resolution: 2016 will be the year I take full charge and aim for better, at everything.


With that in mind, I finished my #ZerotoSuperHero challenge on Thursday, which means I've achieved my target 20 work-outs for January well before my deadline, and if we count the further two sessions I had since that makes a total of 22 sessions in 31 days, not bad for a busy mom-of-two who spends far too much time on trains and planes and who is busy planning what's next in her life.

I went twice to Paris this week, very sadly not for Fashion Week... The taxis were on strike both times so I took motor-cabs, a very cool if a bit fume-filled way to travel the French capital, and I wish I had taken some pictures of the sights I saw from a whole new angle, but to be fair it was too cold for me to get my little hands out!

I managed to do two posts on the blog this week, not bad considering I have been so busy with work travel and then Hubby Dearest thought nothing of leaving me all alone with the two monkeys for the whole week-end. The mere fact I managed to get to Sunday evening without reaching for a doughnut or a G&T (as a friend of mine recommended) is nothing short of a miracle, in fact I'm having a G&T now... Cheers!

30/01/2016

Saturday's shopping list: a brand new work-out wardrobe

So, time to check in. Who's made a New Year resolution that has something to do with wellness? How is it going? Still going strong on the work-outs and clean(ish) diet?

If, like me, you can answer yes, then many congratulations, you've made it to the end of January, yehey-high-five-well-done, so surely you deserve a treat to keep you going as we hit some of the most depressing days of Winter, when staying in bed makes so much more sense than waking up at 5am for a pilates session!... And, if not, don't fret, and please please don't beat yourself up, live up to the saying that every new day is an opportunity to start anew, and give yourself a new chance.

In any case, here's a post to motivate even the most gym-adverse fashionistas out there to go on and start moving: here is my online shopping edit activewear special!

Up first, here's an outfit that is perfect for all the cardio activities that have sprouted up recently: boxing, HIIT, cycling, you name it... If it makes you all hot and bothered and the sweat is dripping off, whilst your heart is going a bit too strong (don't worry, no need to call  the meds), then you  know that it's working and that little stubborn fat is melting away. These are my favourite kind of activities at the moment, maybe it has something to do with the little (getting smaller!) pouch I have above my c-scar, a little memento from my pregnancies, surely... Forgive all the pink and bright colours, these aren't necessarily my usual go-to colours, but isn't it so much more fun to work out in fun colours than drab, muted tones?


- Blue and purple trainers, Lunarglide 7 by Nike
- High waist sky print leggings, also comes with regular waist, Dharma Bums
- HIIT special sports bra, Shock Absorber (trust me, you'll need this, unless you're a 32A or less...)
- Pink tank (I like to layer...), Lorna Jane at Active In Style
- Tiger sweatshirt, perfect for an after workout coffee, Kenzo

Cardio is wonderful, but don't forget those toning sessions, such as pilates and power yoga. I try and do at least one of these for two of the cardio, just to keep it interesting and ensure I work on long lean muscles... I know, one can dream. For theses, I like to go a little softer, muted greys, purples and soft pastel shades, and I try to find multiple or crossing strap cuts to keep the outfits interesting.

- Turnout leggings with a zigzag waistband and heel stirrups, Sweaty Betty
- Grey multi-strap bra, Sweaty Betty
-  Mesh panel vest, Sweaty Betty
- Zip detail sweater, Nike
- Printed yoga mat, Yeti Yoga at Copé Active

Don't forget to check out the many active lifestyle websites that have been launched in recent months, some of them, like Carbon 38,really do curate the best of the best of activewear. Happy shopping everyone! 

29/01/2016

Friday: casual, comfortable and a bit philosophical?

I am not going to be particularly original in admitting that Friday has always been a favourite day for me, but in the last couple of weeks I look for the end of the work week with a sense of relief, delight, and true elation at the perspective of being away from the office for two full days without being on a work trip. I think it's fair to say I'm going through a rough patch, but then I guess this happens to all of us, and really there is no point in reasoning why or how I got here, I am focusing my efforts and thoughts on what's next...

For, if there is one thing I have learned after some quite long years in the banking industry, it's that you create your own options and open your own windows, else people will just happily leave you in the little hole they have dug you into.


Anyways, enough philosophy from me! You know another reason why I love Fridays? It's the perfect day to go a bit casual in the office, especially if there are absolutely no client meetings in sight. I love wearing my skinny jeans with a wedge, but to be fair I hardly ever get a chance on the week-end, seeing as I like navigating kids playground and errands in flats. So of course today was the perfect opportunity for me to pull out these little shearling lined wedge boots, which I don't really wear often enough, and yet they are so cute and comfy... (Note to self: wear the booties more, they make my feet happy.) They are a few years old, and the look is a bit unique and different, but I am really into them...


Today was a bitterly cold and windy day in London, so my new cashmere cable knit sweater by Club Monaco felt perfect, warm and cozy without being stuffy (the office is full of hot air, and not just the one produced by politics!) It has a slightly cropped look which is great for layering, which is what I did here... By the way, I adore Club Monaco's new direction: more luxe, wonderful textures, and less of the more garish collections that they had lost themselves into for a while. I like the different shades of white, what do you think? Should I have tried to match the shades better?


The coat you know, it's one of my AW2015 purchases, and it has proved to be such a good investment piece (heard about the cost per wear theory?), I have used it at least once a week since October! Now here's an accessory that I haven't featured a lot in my posts: my cabat by Bottega Veneta in dusty pink, a little gift to myself for getting through my pregnancy with Little Madame and working all the way through the end, gestational diabetes, complications and all (I know, how stupid can one be). I took it to all of my late pregnancy appointments and it came to me to hospital for the birth of my daughter and then for a week as I stayed with her in NICU, and though I have a few other cabats this one has gained a special place in my collection for that reason.


Finally, because a scarf completes every outfit beautifully(or so they say), I have tried to tie in all the colours of my outfit with my beloved cashmere and silk scarf by Etro, it's warm and cozy and works great with taupes and greys. Someone sweetly commented that my scarf knots always look great, which made me chuckle, seeing as I never really think about it, I just try to keep snug and warm!


Full outfit details below:
- Skinny jeans in slate, James Jeans at Donna Ida
- Silk and lace top, from an old collection, The Kooples
- Cream cable knit cashmere sweater, Club Monaco (check Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge for the full collection)
- White waffle wool coat, Paul & Joe Sister
- Shearling lined wedge ankle boots, Iro on Vestiaire Collective
- Cabat bag, Bottega Veneta
- Scarf, Etro

Enjoy your week-end everyone!

24/01/2016

So, how was your week?

Have I told you how much I love Instagram? It's just such a quick and easy app to share what I'm up to, wherever I am. I love it... In fact, Hubby Dearest says I'm a bit addicted, I think he might be on to something.

Anyhow, for those of you who don't yet follow my ramblings there: @sandra_l_ab on Instagram, take a look at this week's pictures. It's almost a perfect summary of what I've been up to, if you exclude the client meetings in Brussels (but then it would be somewhat awkward if I whipped out my Iphone mid-way through a pitch and told the client "Mind if I take a flat-lay shot...?"err...)


To sum it up. My week at work was pretty bad, horse manure type of bad, with the exception of my most adorable associate, who always tries to find a positive thing to say to cheer me up, and my morning smoothies, which have been pretty delicious this week!

So, what's a girl to do when the going gets tough? No point giving up on the hamster wheel so fast, not before things settle at least...

Instead, I've been working out like a little devil, paying my dues at Psycle twice this week, including a wonderful session with the gorgeous Marion on Monday, and one with Danielle on Thursday morning after a pretty rough night courtesy of Little Madame's refusing to sleep. That was... interesting!

I also fit in a little bit of retail therapy between a work trip and my doctor's appointment on Friday, and did quite a little bit of damage at Harvey Nichols,... now if only I could get that blasted loyalty app of theirs work properly on my phone.

Thankfully the week-end was only around the corner, with its treat breakfasts, its lazy mornings with the little ones, more workouts including my Model Method session and a class at Kobox with a pocket rocket of an instructor, and finally a wonderful facial with Nataliya Robinson, who worked her magic on my complexion this afternoon to make it seem as if all the bull poo-poo didn't ever happen! She is a fairy.

There you have it, my week in pictures. How was yours? xxx

Christmas at the LUX* Belle Mare Mauritius

As you might know having followed this blog for a little while, I usually spend Christmas-time in Europe, usually not too far from the Alpine slopes of Courchevel, having dashed from one airport to the other as Hubby Dearest and I try to shepherd our little ones from one family to the next. Exhausting... And not to be repeated anymore, if our last holidays are anything to go by. We wanted to be somewhere relaxing and fun after the busy-ness of the last few months, and to spend time as a newly extended family, this being Little Madame's first Christmas.

We picked Mauritius because, despite the long flight, the time difference is bearable, even for babies, and the weather around Christmas is just fantastic. And of course the hotel industry on the island is so good you are spoiled for choice! Though this was our third holidays in Mauritius, we had never stayed at the LUX* Belle Mare, and now, well, it's very clear we will never be staying anywhere else if we ever come back.



From the moment we were picked up at arrivals until the moment we were dropped off at the airport after twelve blissful days, it felt like a little interlude in paradise. The resort is quite large, yet arranged amongst the coconut trees and lush tropical gardens in such a way that it never felt crowded, not even on the beach or around the pool.

The service is impeccable. Between the reception team who is always keen to help out, the beach boys who are never too far away with a fresh and plush towel, and the restaurant staff who learned our names and preferred morning drinks from day two, I can't say any of the employees of the hotel made us feel anything but welcome and spoiled.


Like the gardens, our suite was beautiful, big enough to accommodate our little family of four. Little Madame had a baby cot, and our beautiful boy had a bed pulled out of the sofa every evening, by the super attentive housekeeping service who knew that my little ones went  to bed by 8 every night so needed their beds opened and ready whilst we were out at dinner.

The bathroom was fabulous, with a bathtub perfect our two little munchkins to bathe together, though they both preferred to shower with me instead (how very practical for Mamma...) Oh well... There is a little walk-in closet, which was just big enough for all our clothes and shoes, so nothing stayed in the way.

We had a little balcony with steps down to the garden, and then on to the beach, and the view every morning was well worth paying the little extra for.


We spent most of our days on the beach, because neither Hubby Dearest nor I understand the appeal of flying half way across the world only to lounge around a swimming pool. And what a beautiful beach this is: white sand, plush loungers, coconuts and parasols providing well-needed shade from the tropical sun, clear blue warm water. Perfection. Even Little Madame enjoyed her daily swim in the Indian Ocean.



There are four restaurants, including one Indian and one Chinese, but the beach one was our favourite for lunch. The main restaurant is great, with buffet for breakfast and dinner, and options for all the family. The chefs didn't mind making vegetable purees for Little Madame.

For snacks, there is a great food truck on the beach, serving American junk food (there is no way to describe it but it was delicious!) and fabulous ceviches, although in the afternoon the little ice cream parlour by the swimming pool is quite popular, when children and adults flock for a taste of the tropical sorbet lollipops. My favourite? Coconut milk.

There is a coffee bar near reception, which seemed to be a great attraction to a lot of people, but really I don't fancy a hot moccha when sitting on a tropical beach so I can't say I sampled it...



Children have a grand time at the LUX* Belle Mare, with the kids club fully equipped for children from 0 to 12 years old, and for teenagers I spotted a hang-out club with a ping-pong table and games by the tennis courts. We don't like taking our little ones on holidays only to have other people take care of them full time and not to see them but at bedtime, but this is definitely an option... The kids club has a busy schedule which starts at 9AM, and children can even have dinner with the kids club team instead of their parents, if that's your cup of chai...

Whilst we didn't make use of these options full time, it was nice for Little Monsieur to spend time playing with children his age, and we valued the chance to have a nanny look after Little Madame during her lunchtime nap and the hottest hour of the afternoon, meaning I was able to fit in a one-hour workout everyday whilst in the resort, including some reformer work, as they do have one and I was seemingly the only client keen to use it whilst we were there.


Overall, this was a beautiful holiday. The only parts of our vacation we didn't enjoy were actually the flights, which we took on British Airways economy, but then again I always knew that BA doesn't really go out of its way to make economy flyers feel welcome, let alone those travelling with little children. Increased lighting in the economy cabin, ill-timed meal services, bassinets which are too small for babies over the age of 3 months old,... check, check and check, and that's for what I can remember clearly!

Next time we fly down to the Indian Ocean, I think we'll try one of the Middle-Eastern airlines instead...


If you're thinking of holidaying in Mauritius with your family, I couldn't recommend the LUX* Belle Mare any more. It's simply wonderful.

Find out more here: LUX* Belle Mare,

16/01/2016

Saturday: Ready to tackle my Model Method session

These days, I seem to be spending almost as much time in my leggings as I do in my work clothes... and, apparently, this is something quite common at the moment. After all, this is January, aka the month of crowded gyms. In my case, my resolve to take the healthy road goes back to last Summer, but this month I have vowed to clock 20 work-outs in 31 days... hence my leggings collection is getting quite a work-out as well!

Saturday mornings mean Model Method sessions with the wonderful Nadine at The Pilates PT, every week at 8AM come rain or shine. I love the early session as it frees up the rest of the day for time with the children, maintenance appointments (when else can I fit my manis, facials and other appointments at Strip...?) etc. I sometimes even carry on from my session to go out for a few errands around Parsons Green, such as buying some groceries and flowers at the local deli, and so after a few weeks of doing this in my usual bright coloured gym combo I realised maybe it was time I jumped onto the sport lifestyle bandwagon.




Fashercise? Sports lifestyle? What's that I hear some of you ask? It's basically embracing the fact that I spend a lot of my life in sportswear and upping my game a bit so that I don't have to hide behind the biggest shades and the largest beanie in my closet just in case I come across someone I know. It means coordinating my work-out outfits as much as I do my civilian clothes, and discovering new cool sportswear brands that make me want to work out more just so I can justify ordering yet another pair of leggings (see what I did there? I found yet another way to rationalise my lifelong dedication to shopping...)

Before you comment that a sweatshirt is a sweatshirt and that all leggings are made equal, allow me to explain: the perfect pair of leggings keeps everything that needs to stay in tight and smooth (yes, that's you, wobbly bits around my bottom, but I promise I'm working super hard to make you disappear for good), it also is opaque enough to hide your under-garments even when you are crouching in the supermarket aisle looking for the last pack of unsweetened almond milk, and finally, and ideally, it comes with patterns or textures interesting enough to take it beyond the world of plain lycra.


In the last few months, I have discovered that the best activewear brands are American, Australian and British. My current obsession is Michi, which I'm wearing head to toe in today's post. They have the softest touch lycra, with a croc pattern pannel at the top of the leg and, my current favourite detail, mesh cut-outs. They match the sweater with the croc pattern (which looks awesome with black  jeans by the way) and the sports bra which is thankfully not pictured here, as my abs are still very very far from pre-baby times, and I am not sure they will ever be ready to be on display for the blog!

Obviously, today being the coldest day in months, I had to cover up and nothing works better when I'm out for a work-out than to layer up with a puffer coat. Interestingly it's from Nike, which a couple of years ago nooone would have associated with high fashion, but they have been tuning it up a notch on the style credentials, whilst retaining the fantastic technical edge of the brand. Nike is my favourite for trainers, which I often buy from their kids collection seeing as my feet are quite small (the kids trainers are cheaper, obviously).


Outfit details:
- Mesh cutout leggings and croc pattern sweater, Michi NY
- Trainers and puffer jacket, Nike
- Handbag, Bottega Veneta

12/01/2016

Sundays are for family lunches and hands-free bags

I love Sundays, especially the one with a packed programme where I get to live the day to the max as opposed to playing couch potato on my L sofa (not that I would ever do that, of course... ahem).

This past Sunday was right up my street: I started with a grueling but oh-so rewarding debut at Kobox, before popping home for a quick change and getting the little ones ready for our outing, then off to Jak's on Lots Road for a long lunch with friends. I discovered Jak's recently, which is surprising, because it is the perfect spot for a lunch with children, with lots of tables set with sofas and easy chairs, and the most adorable little tractor complete with fruit and veg cart filled with fresh produce. Little Monsieur loves it, and the food is both healthy and fresh, perfect to keep up with those resolutions without giving on on a social life!




I usually go for a jeans and top combo on week-end outings with the little ones, it's easy. However I recently got this gorgeous sweater dress and it is so comfortable I love wearing it. The roll-neck makes it extra warm which is ideal for the colder weather we've had in the last few days. Although it has a drop-waist shape, the drop doesn't actually sit right on the hips, which makes this dress not as unflattering as one could fear.



The other thing I always reach out for whilst out with the children? A hands-free bag to be able to hold Little Madame. She is finally enjoying her food and is putting on the extra weight quickly, so I can't be carrying her whilst toting a heavy-weight bag... Instead, I'm loving my littleJypsière, it's just the perfect size to carry essentials for a meal out, and yet it's lightweight and easy. Of course we did take a baby bag with us with all the must-haves for little miss cuddles.


The booties are a great find from my numerous trips through Lisbon airport: they come from one of the little shops in the terminal, which I passed most weeks at the end of 2015, and never gave much attention to. I did spot these block-heel booties one evening on my way to my return flight to London, and fell in love with how simple they look and how light they are, which is a surprise given they were so very cheap (and in my experience cheap shoes are both uncomfortable and heavy).

I matched my Jypsière with my very old but still striking Tohu Bohu shawl in red tones, and my dark red sunglasses, to add a bit of colour into an otherwise very monochrome outfit. What do you think? Too matchy matchy maybe?


Outfit details below:
- Drop waist sweater dress, McQ Alexander McQueen
- Leather jacket,Whistles
- Jypsière handbag and Tohu Bohu shawl, Hermès
- Platform booties, Parfois

10/01/2016

So, how was your week?

The first week back at work for most of us is over, yeeeey! Never mind that the weather is miserably wet, or that it seems like the daylight hours last for about two minutes, only the fact that we all survived this week is cause for celebration, don't you think?

Looking at my Insta feed, anyone would guess that I have taken some positive resolutions for the new year, and in a way I love how the new over-sharing habits of social media mean you all are going to be able to call me on my failing to deliver on my new year promises!



For instance, I took on a new challenge on Instagram, the #zerotosuperhero challenge (I love how everything that matters on Instagram comes with a hash tag): 20 work-outs in 31 days, which I'm documenting more or less religiously on the app, more or less because I'm mindful noone wants to see a picture of sweaty me after an hour on the Model Method! 

I ate clean, mainly,... though of course we had to celebrate the arrival of the wise men (aka Epiphany) with a French galette, nobody's perfect!

And so, to celebrate being such a virtuous LittleS the whole week, and surviving not such a joyous return on the capital markets (ahem, what an understatement), I did treat myself to a tiny bit of online shopping, from the sales of course, let's be virtuous this month!! 

Anyways, there you have it, my week on Insta. Have a wonderful Sunday evening everyone. xoxo

Kobox: most challenging and most rewarding work-out yet?

In my bid to make 2016 my healthiest and best yet, I've decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone in the work-out department. This means trying pikes on the Heartcore reformer with no springs at all (hard doesn't even begin to describe it) but also finding new work-outs to challenge muscles that I don't exercise as often. At this point, let me pause by mentioning that even typing this post on my laptop feels like torture on my still shaking arms... a good 10 hours after the end of this morning's experiment. So, if I wanted to challenge myself, let's say I have managed to do exactly that, and then some!

See, this morning I went to my very first session at  Kobox. Branded the new it gym in Chelsea, its description on the website talks of a hybrid between a nightclub and a fight club, but I don't know if it is totally fitting. Yes, the room is dark (thankfully... so noone can see what a total rookie I am) and the music is pumping and roaring, but then this seems to  be quite the trend gym-wise in my adopted city these days, eg. Psycle, the other new work-out I've tried lately and which I'll tell you all about soon, I promise. However don't expect any fights here, in the sense that there is no one-to-one contact, and the only hitting that happens is with some pretty heavy punch bags: for me this is a huge attraction, as getting punched by some other aspiring fit mum isn't really my idea of fun.


Ok so what exactly is it all about? As I come in, I am given some hand-wraps (pictured above) which I had to wear under the boxing gloves for "health and safety", ....cue very scared moi. Then I pick up a pair of gloves, and into the dark cube-like room I go. The room is structured around a large screen where numbers get projected (the moves combinations, you see), with heavy punch bags hanging from the ceiling. It's dark, and the light picks up the fluorescent accents on everyone's trainers and tee-shirts, in a very 1980s night-club kind of way.

Before I know it, the warm-up has started, and then it's on to learning the different numbers, aka the  punches. I struggle with 3, 4, and my 5 and 6 are so weak it's a laughing matter, but I get the hang of it. Soon enough, we are all alternating a few minutes on the punch bag with high intensity interval training. By the time we are on the second round, I feel like I'm drenched in sweat, my legs feel  like giving in under me, and my upper body is shaking like a leaf.

I plow through, with the encouragement of our trainer who is both fun and helpful. At no point did I feel intimidated or out of place or judged, despite my sometimes confusing my left and my right (yep, my brain also did shut down 3/4 of  the way down). It was awfully hard, definitely the most challenging work-out I've done in months, but the exhilaration that I felt having completed an hour at Kobox is well worth it.

With a smoothie from the in-house kitchen in my hand, I returned home determined to come back next week, pain in the arms or not!

Check it out for yourself:
Kobox
Kings Walk, 122 Kings Road
London SW3
http://www.koboxlondon.com/ 

06/01/2016

Tuesday's cool wintry hues for a day in the Wharf

I bet, after seeing my first two posts of 2016, some of you might have feared I have turned into one of the new self-appointed Ayatollahs of the fit and healthy lifestyle... Nah-ha... Not this little fashionista.

Just because I have taken a keen interest in my own wellness over the last few months, and I'm spending virtually all my free time away from work and babies working out (hello, hotel gym rooms globally at 5am...); it doesn't mean that I'm going to fill this little corner of the blogosphere with pictures of me in leggings and orthorexic "recipes", if you can call diced vegetables drizzled with rapeseed oil a recipe.

So, rest assured, you can still come here to take a look at my style, read about my adventures and my little family. All is well and there isn't a kale leaf in sight in this blog post!



If you remember reading some of my pregnancy style posts, you'll remember I had pounced (virtually of course, trust me I did no physical pouncing after the fourth month of my last pregnancy) on this gorgeous lace trimmed coat in the AW2014 sales, and to this day I'm still in love with it as if it were the first day.

It is such a gorgeous piece, and although it is fair to say that this type of lace-heavy design is very 2014 and the trend has since moved on, it still works for me and I get complimented on it every time I wear it.


I tried to keep yesterday's look in cool wintry shades, with off-white, greys, and blues. Don't you love wearing white in the Winter? I do (obviously). I think wearing light colours when it's cold is quite pretty, especially in luxe textures, which give a little air of sophistication. It doesn't hurt that I'm still sporting my Mauritian tan, I guess the look would be a bit meeh if I was my usual aspirin pill shade of white!


Accessorizing this look was so easy, and the whole outfit is unbelievably comfy and snuggly, especially my beloved Hayley Menzies wrap scarf. It's so soft... I just added on my little Falabella bag, which I don't use often enough to work, due to its slouchy frame, and a pair of fabulous stiletto, and I was ready for a day in the office.


Outfit details below:
- Off-white culottes, Massimo Dutti (now sold-out), Vero Moda at ASOS has a similar look
- Lace trimmed coat, Dolce & Gabbana
- Cashmere mix boat neck jumper, just seen, Luisa Spagnoli
- Fur-trimmed cashmere wrap, Hayley Menzies
- Faux suede Falabella chain bag, Stella McCartney
- Blue suede stilettos, Rupert Sanderson

05/01/2016

My top starter smoothie recipes

If you’ve taken a little peek at my Instagram feed, you’ll see there are quite a few pictures of smoothies, which have recently become my favourite on the go breakfast. (By the way, what did people look at before we all started taking pictures of our food to post it online, I cannot imagine…!)

For me, a smoothie is a great way to pack my morning nutrients into an easy quick breakfast that I can take with me most mornings, with the only exceptions being the days when I have to fly out of London, as my Nutribullet cup doesn’t really fit into the airport security requirements for liquids…

On the topic of the Nutribullet: I decided to buy one at the end of last Summer when I couldn’t get happy with the consistency of the juices and smoothies I was getting from either my juice extractor or my blender, not to mention they never seemed to be able to take care of nuts for example. Not to mention the mess both left behind after each use! So, the extractor and blender were packed up and out to the nearest charity shop, to be replaced by a Nutribullet, and I haven’t looked back since.d


Wonderful, you might say, but what does one do with a bullet, ninja and other juice gizmos? Some of my friends have written to me about how they were slightly daunted by the new appearance on their counter-top and didn’t quite know where to start, and I’ve emailed them some of my top recipes, but I thought with all the hype about clean eating I might as well write a post about it here.

Before we go on, just a little reminder: I am no dietician or clean eat guru, I claim no expertise in this topic; I just love eating tasty, and, more recently, clean food (most days... god forbid I eschew my adored afternoon teas!)

First, you need to do a bit of shopping… You need: fresh and frozen fruit and veg (remember, organic is best…), a couple of good yoghurt pots (I prefer plain Greek and vanilla), a number of non-dairy milks and juices, chia seeds, nuts, all of which can be found in most supermarkets these days. You will also need to go to your nearest health shop or order online some more esoteric ingredients such as spirulina powder, bee pollen, hemp protein powder, matcha, cocoa nibs etc. I also have a protein powder to add on to my smoothies, at the suggestion of my trainer, but that’s not a must…

I would suggest starting with juices and smoothies that taste nice to ease you into the whole juicing fiesta. There is no point starting a smoothie routine with a bitter cold soup tasting pond water looking smoothie which will take all your motivation away; for me, this means there is at least one fruit in all of my recipes, to ensure a bit of sweetness, but I also put kale, spinach or another green leafy veg into most of my breakfast smoothies to ensure plenty of goodness. Anyhow, enough of chatter, here is a selection of my starter recipes for the smoothie newbies out there, enjoy!

1) Super antioxidant berry galore
The name says it all, it’s about tricking your body into thinking it’s actually 25 years old, still… Everyone loves this one, it’s the most basic of smoothies and it works well when your kitchen is empty and all there is left is a couple of bags of frozen berries in the freezer. This also works very well as a base for a smoothie bowl, just add some gluten-free granola, your favourite crushed nuts, some bee pollen, and enjoy!
1.5 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1 apple
1 cup of 0% Greek yoghurt
1.5 tablespoon of milled chia seeds (for an extra kick of protein)
1 teaspoon acai berry powder
(if you need to pack a little more energy into this smoothie, consider adding 0.5 cup of oats)

2) Choc delight: 
This one is so yummy you’ll be smacking your lips, think about it like a virtuous chocolate milkshake. It’s perfect as a snack, when that box of cookies is calling your name from the kitchen cupboard. I always add a scoop of PHD Vanilla Protein Powder when making this for breakfast, otherwise it’s not a very strong smoothie but it's so delicious!
1.5 cup coconut water or coconut milk
1.5 cup spinach (spinach leaves actually taste sweet so don’t be afraid, pack them in!)
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder
1 tablespoon raw cocoa nibs
10 almonds or pecan nuts
0.5 teaspoon organic vanilla powder
1 pinch Himalayan salt
(for extra sweetness you can add 1 medjool date, but honestly it’s not needed)

3) Green tropical cocktail
This is what I call a false green smoothie. It looks incredibly virtuous, but it’s packed with delicious ingredients which make it taste just like a Pina Colada… It packs a bit (a lot) of fructose, so not great, but the enzymes in the pineapple make this a must-have in my menu.
1.5 cup coconut water
1.5 cup kale or spinach or lettuce (by order of decreased goodness factor)
1 frozen banana
1 cup pineapple chunks
0.5 teaspoon spirulina powder (go small on the spirulina, especially at first, or you'll find your smoothies taste of aquarium water)
(for extra creaminess and good fats, add 10 pecan nuts)

4) Detox lean green
Now, this one may sound a bit scary, but after the first three recipes you should be ready to move to the next level, and trust me this actually tastes quite good, the secret being that it doesn’t include celery, a very noble vegetable which does great things for the body, but nothing for my taste buds… I prefer to put it in my soups.
1.5 cup coconut water
Juice from a lemon or a lime
1.5 cup kale
1 pear or green apple (the apple is more virtuous, the pear is sweeter)
0.5 cucumber
1 kiwi
0.5 teaspoon spirulina powder (see warning above)
4-5 mint leaves
(you can add some grated fresh ginger to your taste for an added immune boost)

5) Beetroot fig plum yum
Beets are incredibly filled with loads of vitamins and minerals, so they are a fantastic base for any morning juice. This one will convert even the most reluctant amongst you: it’s my favourite anti cold days blues recipe.
1.5 cup beetroot juice (or 2 beets, diced)
1.5 cup kale
2 figs
2 plums
1 carrot
0.5 cup blackberries
1 tablespoon flaxseed
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon (aka sugar’s healthy cousin)
0.25 teaspoon vanilla powder

6) Matcha destress magic
Did you know that walnuts are the ultimate stress-busting ingredient? Me neither, but hey, we live and learn, right? Try this one whenever life is feeling a bit too hectic…
1 cup almond milk
1 cup 0% vanilla yoghurt
1 tablespoon matcha powder
0.5 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon flaxseed
(for extra fuel consider adding a frozen banana)

There you have it, a little selection of my starter smoothie recipes. Nothing too drastic here, right? I’ll be experimenting with some more hard-core recipes in the next few weeks (think more veg, less sugar) and will report back with my favourites. Stay tuned! 

03/01/2016

Sunday's working out and working it?

Happy New You everyone! I know this sounds like an odd greeting... of  course like every year I do hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and I wish you all a wonderful new year, but, also, I'm mindful that 2016 is definitely set to be the year when the wellness trend will explode and take over most of our lifestyles, so Happy New You!








I'm sure you will have noticed how, progressively, everyone talks about being / wanting to be healthy, working out is trendy, and eating clean is so fashionable even Nigella Lawson's Instagram feed is overtaken by mashed avocado and beetroot juices... In fact, there are so many health, fitness and wellness blogs around, it makes the odd carb-eating blogger seem like a rebel!

So of course my new year's resolution is exactly on trend, I am no original: I want to become the very best version of myself in 2016, a fit mother healthy enough to enjoy playing with my children at the week-end despite my crazy work week, a friend who enjoys riding with her girls at Psycle (now there is one phrase I never thought I'd write, ever), a woman who feels like her self-esteem is back for good. I will be upping my work-out and healthy diet game in the weeks to come, so expect more OOTD posts like today's, leggings, no make-up face and all.


I have been working out 3-4 times a week since last Summer, but this year I've taken on a new challenge: to fit 20 work-outs into January... Follow my progress as I document it partly on Instagram, and see if I fail miserably under the pressure of work travel and the nasty London weather (cue rain drenched garden stones in today's pictures). As a result, I am spending an increasing portion of my time wearing leggings and sneakers, without any make-up on...

Obviously if you know me a little bit you can imagine that I like to fully coordinate my work-out outfits and that I'm a full advocate of the theory that "Stylish work-out clothes make bungee kicks a (tiny) bit easier".




Here I am on the way to my Sunday morning Pilates class at Heartcore, in my trusted mix of purples and greys. The leggings are some old favourites in Lululemon's signature warmer Winter weave, and I love how the colours get picked up by my bespoke Beulah quote scarf. What do you think? Am I working it?

Before you go, some details about this outfit:
- Purple weave leggings, Lululemon
- Long sleeve bright purple top, Manuka Life
- Low support cami top in dark grape, Athleta
- Photosynthesis collection sneakers, Nike
- Pink bucket bag, Rachael Ruddick at Otte NY
- Down jacket, Moncler
- Printed scarf with bespoke quote, Beulah
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