Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Places To Eat In London: Tom's Deli, Notting Hill [Now Closed]

After Rose had recommended it on her blog, and I'd seen some photos of it on Gastro-Street Stalker I decided to take Elodie to brunch at Tom's Deli in Notting Hill on Sunday morning. 
We were there for brunch, but I could not help but eyeing up some of the beautiful baked goods on display. The plate of cupcakes are from The Primrose Bakery. Okay, so there may have been a reason why after I said goodbye to Elodie I ended up on Princess Road in Primrose Hill...
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You know things are looking up for your Sunday morning when an extremely good looking waiter plonks a massive jug of syrup on your table. Also, I love that Tom's Deli serves Big Tom tomato juice, which is beautifully spiced and one of my favourite non alcoholic drinks. I've managed to pick a bottle up in Tesco before, and they sell it in the deli, but if you're really after a big bottle of it you can't go wrong in Waitrose. 
It took us a very, very long time to order. I will have to go back for brunch another day, as there is so much still on the menu that I simply have to try!
After looking around at the mouthwatering food other people were eating at the tables around us, we both opted for French toast with bacon, blueberries and syrup. I had a poached egg on the side. It has to have been some of the best French toast I'd had in a very long time. We wolfed it down pretty quickly! 
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As we exited we got sidetracked by the traditional and world sweet counter as they had Carambar, one of our favourite French sweets and we just had to buy some of our favourite flavours. (Elodie is French and I have a home there.)

Have you eaten at Tom's Deli before? Do any of you have any more Notting Hill recommendations for me as well, I'd spend all my time in London there if I could!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Attention Londoners: Hobbs Sample Sale

Just a quick post today to pass on a tip the wonderful Laura (who works at Hobbs) passed me: a Hobbs sample sale on Brick Lane (indecently, perfect for me as I walked there from my flat!) Hobbs is one of my favourite places to shop, and their clothes can suit anyone of any age. They have an incredible selection of dresses, coats, tops, trousers, skirts, shoes and accessories. Prices start at £2. I managed to haul over £450 worth of clothes and accessories for £25!
The goodies I picked up (a dress, a necklace and a bracelet) were my 3rd blog birthday present to myself, as rachelphipps.com turns 3 on 1st February! So, as well as getting some stuff for myself I picked up a few little treats for you guys too, so watch out for my 3rd birthday post as it will include a giveaway! 

Will you be heading down to the Hobbs sample sale? 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Learning To Cook Like I'm On Masterchef

Last night Handpicked Media and Oral B invited me along to Cookery School on Little Portland street for a cook along lesson with Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and to hear all about their new toothpaste: Oral B Pro Expert. I was very excited about this event, in case you have not realised this yet I absolutely adore food and cooking, and it was a really great experience. 
It actually made me consider going to cooking classes for some of the more complicated techniques that I can't teach myself as well out of books. 
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I was a bit apprehensive about some of the food we were going to be cooking. Tim spent a lot of time in Japan and when I got there I saw that there was a lot of raw fish, I am really not that much of a sushi fan to be honest!
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Working in pairs (I worked with the lovely Alexandra, the PR co-ordinator over at HerUni), we started to prepare a simple Sashimi with Passion Fruit Foam and Wasabi Tsuyu Granita. 
It was actually pretty easy to put together. The passion fruit foam smelt (and later tasted) amazing, but the whole way through I was still rather apprehensive about trying the raw fish that I was sure that I would not like. 
I'll try anything, and the tuna turned out to be rather meaty and not too bad, though I don't think I will be revisiting sushi again, as I also was not a fan of the seaweed. It was interesting to learn about the different flavours and how they went together though. 

While we ate out first course a scientist from Oral B explained to us what the acids we were eating in our foods was doing to our teeth. It was pretty scary to hear, and how much detrimental acid is in almost everything we eat and drink, not just in things that we think would be bad for our teeth like sugar, red wine and coffee.
Next we made an absolutely delicious Indian designed dish, Hen's Nest of Tea-Stained Egg, Leek Bhaji and Chana Masala Puree. The puree we made out of chickpeas and spices, the eggs were soaked in tea and the crispy nest twigs were made out of julienne leeks in a spiced batter deep fried in a pan of oil. It was absolutely delicious, and I will be making it again, maybe for a course at another dinner party?
While we tucked into this dish we were told all about Oral B Pro Expert toothpaste and shown some very scary lab experiment videos about erosion on an iPad. 

Did you know that the Americans actually have better teeth than we do, even with their total sugar soda and candy overload? This is because the technologies they have in their toothpaste (which is in Oral B Pro Expert) that they've had for much longer than we have are much better than ours, and they also drink loads of soda with ice which dilutes the damage and with a straw that helps bypass the teeth? I was also happy to hear that this toothpaste is very whitening, because it not only helps prevent staining like other whitening toothpastes, but also helps combat existing stains. 

I sat there thinking that after scaring us about our teeth they better be giving us a tube of the toothpaste to take away with us and brush our teeth with when we got home, thank god they did - I'll let you know how I get on with it! 

What do you think of these dishes? Do you think I should try making the hens nest again?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Currently Reading: Blogger Edition #2

So, it has been a while since I showed my love for some of my favourite bloggers. Here are ten of my favourite bloggers at the moment, and why I love their blogs so much!
1. Rose at The Londoner

Rose's blog is one of my all time favourites, and I get so excited every time I can see that she has written a new post. Her blog is the place to go if you want to find great places to eat out in London, and she also posts lots of mouthwatering original recipes and great editorials on many different aspects of being a modern woman. Also, Rose is absolutely lovely in real life to boot! 
6479226951_46dff62558_b 2. Nicolette at Nicolette Mason

I subscribed to Nicolette's blog the first time I ever found it because of the sleek layout and beautiful photos, but I've remained a fan as she always posts such great fashion forward content, and this is coming from a person who does not actually enjoy reading high fashion orientated blogs so much! She's a freelance fashion writer and editor from Los Angeles living in New York, and her blog gives a fascinating insights into living a fashionable life in the city.  
6325217863_ea4c899377_b 3. Zoe at Zoella

I love Zoe's, long, detailed and honest beauty and makeup product reviews that really give you a good idea of the products and if you'd want them or not - most recently off of her blog I've added Agent Provocateur's Soap on a Rope to my wish list! Also, her honesty does not just stretch to beauty products. She recently wrote a brutally honest, moving and really informative post on how to deal with panic attacks and how to deal with them, building on her own personal experiences. 
tt3-35JPG_effected 4. Paula at Pink Bow

I first found Paula's blog because of her beautiful and fabulous photography. Everything in her life is so dreamy and vintage inspired, and I love her outfits! Also, I need her makeup collection in my life, and to eat and drink all of the delicious things she does!
5. Elodie at Elle Yeah

I've been reading Elodie's blog since way before the two of us met. She writes brilliant fashion forward posts (her Christmas gift guide was the best one I read) and she has lovely, beautiful and clear photography of her super stylish outfits. She also has a great string of fashion internships lined up at the moment, so keep an eye on her - this girl is going places! 
6. Charlene at Dainty Dresses

Out of so many bloggers (okay, with Michelle from Daisybutter being one exception) I thin Charlene does the best week in photos posts. Also, she has some pretty great and comprehensive beauty reviews which I have discovered some of my favourite products through her blog. She does lots of Lush reviews, so if you're thinking about trying one of their products, check to see if she has reviewed it first!

Joy's blog is a relatively new find of mine, I like to refer to her blog in my mind as a thinking style blog, meaning that she posts the most wonderful and thought provoking original articles and editorials as well as lots of lovely outfit inspiration with lovely insightful explanations as to why she likes them, rather than just posting the photos as so many bloggers are apt to do. 
IMG_1428 8. Kate at Ghostparties

I absolutely adore Kate's beauty blog because she does a great mix of high end and high street products, she has great reviews and really clear photos. She also does outfit and lifestyle posts, unusual for many beauty bloggers, so it is really greta to be able to get to know the blogger behind the reviews too!
3 9. Jane at Deluminators 

I love that Jane's blog gives a perfect snapshot into life in Australia, a country that I don't really know a lot about. For example, they have Lindt cafes with macaroons, how jealous am I of that? Also, it makes me feel all summery reading her blog in the middle of the horrible cold London winter - it is summer at the moment in the other hemisphere! 
6653540273_b41d44003c_o 10. Carrie at Wish Wish Wish  

I think that Carrie's blog has some of the most beautiful and whimsical photography of all the blogs out there - don't we all wish we had photographer boyfriends? I love her totally British style with a lovely mix of vintage looking pieces and high street. 

Who's blogs are you really enjoying at the moment? I'm always on the lookout for new things to read, so I'd love it if you could link me up in the comments!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Your Relationship Status: 'Facebook Official'?

The other day I was having a conversation about why I really hate the phrase 'Facebook Official'. Before I'd ever actually have a guy ask me if we could make our brand new relationship 'Facebook Official' I'd never really thought about Facebook relationship status' past the usual agreement with womans magazines that they state it must be rather awkward to have a breakup play out on Facebook if or when it all goes south, or knowing to call or text a dear friend to check if they are okay when the fact that they are now listed as 'single' unexpectedly appears in my newsfeed.  
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However, it was still nothing I'd never experienced. So, when my now ex-boyfriend took my hand and asked me if he could make us 'Facebook Official' outside Notting Hill Gate tube station, I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable that this technological acceptance has become part of the modern dating ritual, just like it is now standard in many cases for your other half to become a part of your blog, or for you to meet someone on an online dating site. By the time I got home and booted up my Mac Book the relationship request had already appeared in my newsfeed, and in less than a minute after I'd hit accept my friends started to pounce with their surprise, shock and congratulations, as did his. I really was not sure how I felt about it. I know it might have been my not being entirely sure about the whole thing (well, he is now my ex) but I know I lot of me was just not entirely comfortable with the fact that making it official on Facebook seemed to be such a necessary part of our relationship. I know it is hysterical that I, as a blogger who shares great chunks of my life online for not just my friends list, but the whole world to see should feel like this, but I really did. And I don't know how I'd feel about listing a new relationship on Facebook either. 

When we broke up I instantly deleted the 'Rachel Phipps is now Single' status from my newsfeed so I could actively ignore the drama. It worked, we had not been dating long and not many of my friends had met him. Only my really good friends noticed. But I wonder what it would have been like if I'd have let it be and everyone who I go to uni with, went to school with and everyone I have ever lived with had had the opportunity to comment? 

How do you feel about Facebook relationship status'? Do you list your relationships, or do you like to keep things private? Why?

This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Lingerie For Girls With A Bigger Bust

Ladies, am I the only one shocked to find that that largest cup size in Agent Provocateur available to girls of all back sizes is a DD? Sure, if you're 'average', between a 32 or a 36 you can go up to an F, but naturally skinnier girls who need a 30? Or bigger boned girls who need a 38? Not a chance. Fine there is an argument that certain styles do not give enough support to certain sizes, but there are plenty of brands (many of whom I've listed below) who make slight alterations to their styles, for example giving them slightly wider straps, so that girls with every back and cup size can enjoy their beautiful designs.
Photo by Ellen von Unwerth

It is not just Agent Provocateur. Calvin Klein only go from a 32, and up to a DD. I believe Topshop are similar. I really don't think it is fair that slightly skinnier or slightly bigger boned, or those girls with a more generous cup size are not allowed to buy the same beautiful pieces as some of their more 'regular' sized peers. The problem is, while this seems to be a minority problem, I can't see mainstream brands sitting up and taking notice any time soon. However, I have found some pretty great brands out there whole make beautiful lingerie for those of us who don't fit the sizes both the high street and high end brands are trying to force us into.
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Freya is my favourite out of all the sites and brands I'm listing in this post. They stock both basic and beautiful bras and lingerie sets (as well as swimwear) from a 28 to a 40, from a B cup to a K cup. Their lingerie is also of excellent quality and their styles, some of which change every season and some of which are part of a core collection are all beautiful and well made with lovely little design details. The most prevalent place on the high street you can buy Freya is in Debenhams, but you can also shop in Fenwicks, Selfridges and Bravissimo, and this is just places where I shop and I have seen Freya stocked. 
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Panache make lovely lingerie, but what I really love about them is their swimwear. Another problem those of us who don't fit the norm have is shopping for the perfect swimsuit or bikini that you can actually swim in, fits properly but looks absolutely gorgeous on you too. I have road tested their styles by swimming intensive lengths, and I would not even consider buying my bikinis anywhere else now - shopping for swimwear where you can shop by bra size is the way to go! You can get Panache from Bravissimo (see below), on Very.co.uk and in some department stores, including Fenwick. 
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While there are actually a couple of Bravissimo stores, I love Bravissimo for mail order as they offer free returns if you're not happy with what you've ordered, and you can try things on in the comfort of your own home without the horrible glaring lights of sweaty changing rooms while you are out shopping. They stock a great range of brands such as Freya and Panache, as well as their own beautiful range. I also love the models they use in their catalogues, none of them are stick thin but they still have beautiful figures. They make you feel good about shopping for lingerie rather than inadequate or uncomfortable that you can't shop in Topshop for your bras like everyone else you know.  
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Like Bravissimo, Figleaves is also a fantastic place to shop online. They stock lingerie, hosiery, loungewear and swimwear from many fantastic brands, have fantastic customer service and have a lot more choice than Bravissimo. The only qualms I have with it is shopping on the website is not as nice as you would experience at Bravissimo. Their sale is truly excellent, I have got so many great bargains there!
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After reading this post, Leia was recommended to me by my best friend Kathryn (who is soon going to be writing a few posts for this blog, so keep an eye out!). Leia is just like Figleaves and Bravissimo that they stock lots of different brands and cater for girls of almost every size. She also informs me that your order comes in very beautiful packaging!
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Rigby & Peller, the famed lingerie company by appointment to Her Majesty The Queen comes in at the priciest end of the places I've listed here, and if I ever start earning enough money I'm pretty sure this is where I will start to shop. They have almost every size you could possibly think exists from an off the rack lingerie company, but they also do bespoke orders so in reality you could actually have any size you wanted. You can shop online, or they have stores in Westfield White City, Chelsea, Knightsbridge,  or Mayfair if you are based in London, and in Bluewater (an absolutely gorgeous store, the only one I have been in) and in Cambridge. Recently Sherin was invited along to go behind the scenes on the photo shoot for their new campaign the other week, and I love the way they used women who work in Rigby & Peller in the shoot - I can't wait until the campaign goes live! 

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I've decided to include Boux Avenue in this post because, though I don't really know much about them or their quality but I have heard some really good things on various blogs, and I recognise that all of the options I have listed above are on the varying side of pricy - Boux Avenue is a bit cheaper! They stock usual lingerie sizes, but have a great DD+ section. They also go from a 30 back to a 40 back, so they recognise that there are girls of all sizes out there, and rightly so! They have several stores around the UK, but not one in London yet, but I'll be sure to pop in their store the next time I'm in Bluewater and report back! 

A two questions for those of you who do not fit the conventional 32-38, A-DD: do you feel put out or upset that there are so many places on the high street and top designers such as Agent Provocateur, Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabanna that don't cater for you, and where do you like to buy your lingerie? 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

New In: Classic Uggs (Or, The Big Ugg Debate)

Last week I was walking down the road I live on with my best friend, in search of brunch at four in the afternoon (I'm a student and it was my day off, he's unemployed, so at least please don't judge me for this!) when he started complaining about my footwear. Granted, my feet did look pretty bad. I was wearing my Uggs, but these were my Uggs that needed replacing literally months ago. The stitching was coming away at the seems down the side, one boot was worn down on the heel at the point where I was trailing shredded bits of the piping between the sole and the boot behind me, the suede had come away from the sole on the other boot so I had a big gaping hole appearing every time I lifted my foot to take a step. All of this was causing me to drag my feet somewhat, which was really what was irritating him. Luckily, I could point out to him that I already had a new pair on their way, but if truth be told I'd been wearing them like that for months. 

Some people absolutely love Uggs, and some people absolutely hate them. Honestly, I'm going to be hypocritical here and say that there is almost nothing worse footwear wise (why did they invent Crocs, if not to make something worse than ruined Uggs) than a pair of trodden down, dirty and totally worn Uggs that look slovenly and cause the wearer to epically drag their feet. I was doing it because as a student I don't really have £170-£180 to shell out for a new pair of boots, I'm of the opinion that the cheap knock-offs wear down and look bad quickly (as well as having read that they are also very bad for your feet, where as the real deal are designed to bear supporting your foot in mind) and I had no other winter shoes that I could just slip on and off to run around campus in. If the wonderful people at shoe site Spartoo had not given me some vouchers so I could get a new pair, I would probably still be dragging my feet around campus in my old, horrid and ragged ones. 

But what about wearing Uggs like my new ones that I've pictured above, my nice clean new ones that don't look run down and ragged at all. In the latest issue of Company Magazine Alexa Chung says that she really regrets wearing Uggs, but I think they can look really great as part of a casual look if you style them with the right type of dresses or skinny jeans (Sienna Miller anyone?) 

I've personally always liked Uggs, but how about you guys? Do you wear them? Do you like how they look on other people? The only time I really hate clean nice Uggs being worn is if they're being worn by men. I don't think that I'll ever think that that looks good!

This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Weekly Love: Week 91

1. After brunch on Sunday at Natural Kitchen, I took a little wander down Marylebone Highstreet and came across Daunt Books, which is everything that a proper book shop should be, not the things we have on high streets pretending to be bookshops called Waterstones. I've posted about the store on my Tumblr page
DSC_0322 2. Due to some backlash about my deleting a lot of negative comments on my recent lingerie post, I have decided to include a commenting policy on my blog, which you can read here. I don't have a problem with people who leave comments totally disagreeing with me, and saying that my point of view is totally stupid, indeed I encourage constructive criticism, argument and debate. We're all entitled to our own opinions. However, if you leave offensive or downright nasty comments that cause offence, or you use language that may offend me or my readers, I will delete your comment without responding however good the rest of your argument happens to be.

3. I had a wiff in Selfridges as I was coming out of the Selfridges Library the other day, but Diptyque's new Eau Rose scented candle is well worth the sniff - it is now right at the top of my wish list - the perfect rose scent.
4. Speaking of Selfridges, how amazing are some of their Oxford Street window displays at the moment?

5. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, but what an end it was for the season finale of Sherlock. Not going to drop any spoilers, but I think it was the best Sherlock episode ever written. It was so clever and intricate, Cumberbatch's acting was absolutely flawless and I still have not worked out entirely how Sherlock did it, even though I knew how it would end as I knew the Sherlock Holmes story it was based on really well. Apparently the key is to use your pause and rewind button a lot - I'm going to go after it on iPlayer and try an figure it out. Any ideas how he managed to fool everyone, for those of you who have seen it? (In other news, a guy I used to go to school with who is an amazing, Jac Clinch has done his own comic strip of how he thinks he did it - so funny!)
6. Amazing Duck Egg Fried rice at Lotus Leaf, one of my favourite oriental restaurants. (I'm always getting rice dishes, crispy aromatic duck and the chicken Dim Sum balls at their Westfield, Stratford City location, though they have them all over London.) It was the first time I'd had this dish - it was so lovely and filling and I will definitely be having it again. Speaking of amazing food, this week I discovered Foodgawker, which is basically just Pinterest for awesome looking food. I'm in love.

Current Location: London
Currently Listening To: Red by Dia Frampton
Currently Reading: Company Magazine
Currently Watching: How To Cook Like Heston (for those of you who were asking how to make the homemade chocolate truffles I made for my dinner party, Heston shows you how in the first 5 minutes!)

What have you been enjoying this week?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Places To Eat In London: Vapiano

On Monday night, after chilling out for a while in the Selfridges Library, Sherin and Susie took me for dinner at a great Italian just off Oxford Street, Vapiano.
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I loved the laid back style of the restaurant, you can't really get anything like it in smaller towns like where I'm from. When you walk into the restaurant you get handed a charge card. There are menus scattered around the restaurant where you can choose pasta, salad or pizza. 
You got up to the corresponding area and order straight from the chef, watching them cook you food if you want and you swipe your card. You can pay for everything; food, drinks and desserts you put on your card when you leave the restaurant. The seating is an open plan mix of bar are and stools and booths at tables over two floors so you can choose to sit wherever you like with your food. I absolutely loved the laid back, relaxed and cool atmosphere.  
I was slightly in love with the decor. 
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I had one of their homemade pizzas topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. I added the oregano myself, and after I took the photo I added torn fresh basil from the pot on our table (I love that little extra touch for an Italian restaurant) and some chilli oil. I had not had a proper pizza in ages, and though you can get better pizzas, this one was faultless - just what I fancied! 
Susie had a simple Caesar salad, which looked absolutely perfect for someone who was just after a quick light meal, like she was after having eaten quite a bit that day already!
Sherin had this amazing looking pasta which also smelt pretty  great. I've decided that I'm already going back for another meal, maybe at lunchtime when the music will not be so loud (it  was by no means too loud, we could still talk fine, but I like a quieter atmosphere for my meals in general) to try one of the pasta dishes.
I loved how the desserts were displayed by the bar, and I was really tempted by the vanilla panna cotta with strawberry sauce. 
However, when I went up to the counter to order I spotted the death by chocolate, it was the natural choice! It was rather excellent, but not up to the absolutely faultless standard of my pizza. 

The meal was excellent value, my pizza, dessert and a beer coming to £14. A bill that you pay while munching on a complimentary bowl of gummy bears.