Saturday, 30 June 2012

California Cool: Planet Blue Tropical Squeeze Summer 2012

I rarely ever post look book or editorial images, but there is something about the constant and incredible standard of the look books brought out by Californian clothing brand Planet Blue that make me jump up and down with excitement every time I see that they have come up with a new one. I'm only going to be able to take one big suitcase of clothes with me to Los Angeles so I will need a bit of a wardrobe restock when I get there, and I think Planet Blue is going to be one of the first places I'm going to look. I won't be arriving in LA until September; I'm spending the rest of the Summer in Canterbury and visiting family on the Isle Of Man, these sunny, tropical themes images are making me very, very exciting for my new home on the West Coast! 
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Whose lookbooks do you find particularly inspiring? I've also been drooling over Sea Dream, another totally flawless Summer loving Planet Blue offering! 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Weekly Love: Week 106

On Sunday afternoon I arrived back from my lovely French holiday well rested and eager to go again - though it was such an incredible feeling to be without my phone and an internet connection for an entire week! Apart from that, the week has been rather normal aside from what you now know was my interview at the American Embassy in London on Tuesday to get my visa approved for my move to Los Angeles in September! Thank you for all your wonderful and sweet congtatulations messages: they really meant a lot to me. Last night after an afternoon at the beach where I accidentally turned into a lobster I headed back to school for the first time since I left last Summer for what was my favourite event on the school calendar - the sunset jazz concert on the lawn in front of the Cathedral that always kicks off the last week of the school year.
1. The stunning blue sea on a little beach tucked away on Cotes d'Amour in Brittany, Northern France. I adore the ocean, and on every beach we stopped at the part of our coast we had not yet explode I took off my shoes and wandered down to the sea to walk through the spray for a while - and getting hideously sunburnt during the process! | 2. Delicious iced smoothies at Chambers of Canterbury. | 3. Une Eclaire Chocolate et une Flan Apricot from a lovely little patisserie in Antran, a village near us in France. | 4. Chorizo scrambled eggs, pancakes and hash browns from Chambers. | 5. In the seaside town of Cancal, one of my favourite Brittany haunts there is a small fish market at the foot of the pier selling mussels and oysters. The oysters come ready to eat on a tray with half a lemon and people sit on the walls by the oyster beds eating, then discarding the shells and lemons onto the pebble beach so that now there is a mountain of discarded shells and lemons there which is actually pretty amazing once you realise what it is. | 6. Canterbury Cathedral at night.

What have you been enjoying this week? Anyone posted any amazing travel pictures from their Summer holidays yet or any delicious food snaps from around the world I can drool over?

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Places To Eat In Brittany: Le Cancalais, Cancale

While I usually confine my 'Places To Eat' features to London where I know a very large majority of my readers live, or in Canterbury where I also have quite a strong readership, today I wanted to share with you Le Cancalais, an incredible seafront restaurant with some of the best seafood I have ever had in Brittany in case any of you happen upon the Breton coast on your travels - it is not to be missed! It is also a hotel, so if you were looking to holiday in the region it might be a good place to consider staying. They have most seafood on the menu and I enjoy looking at what other diners order, from massive plates of Fruits de Mer that take up the whole table or massive lobsters cooked in garlic butter. The restaurant is actually rather expensive if you order A La Carte, with a lobster coming in at about 55€, but their 3 course 15€ a head set menu is amazing and never disappoints with three options per course.  

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Update: I'm Moving To Los Angeles

No, the title of this post was not just a ploy to get your attention. You know the massive news I have been hinting about in my posts and Tweets since December that I promised I'd tell you all about soon? Now, you've got to understand that I have quite literally been buzzing to write this post since I found out in the middle of December, but I wanted to find out exactly where I was going, and until I was sure I had my visa before I made it public. I'm moving Los Angeles. I will be leaving at the begining of September and living there for a whole year and attending classes at UCLA (slight side note, a few weeks ago Refinery 29's feature got me very excited about UCLA street style). A couple of months on from finding out and I'm still bouncing off of the walls. I really wanted to shout it from the rooftops when I wrote the first half of this story in a guest post for awesome Californian blogging site Volcomunity under the guise of a post on why you should never give up on your dreams; I was worried I'd given it away then that people would realise that that was my big secret and put two and two together, but no one did!
1 (Aside from photos I have listed as mine I took on my last trip to California, and those I have credited to other bloggers, all photo inspiration comes from the Foam x Planet Blue editorial from the Foam Magazine swimwear issue!)

I have wanted to live and study in America since I was 13 years old, and while things did not quite turn out the way I wanted them to for one reason or another and I ended up moving to London to study, a trip in April of last year when I visited San Francisco changed everything. 
I took this photo just by the viewing platform of the Golden Gate Bridge. I took it as a reminder of the promise I made to myself during the long hours of gazing out of the bus window working my way south down from the ski resort in Lake Tahoe. When I'd had this pipe dream as a kid, I'd held it in my heart without ever actually seeing America for myself and spending any time there. I think this is why I ended up dismissing it, and I let others persuade me that maybe it was not such a great idea after all. However, on that road trip I realised how much of a mistake letting go of my dream had been, and how badly I still wanted it. 
A few nights after getting back to England, after I'd slept off the jet lag I sat up in my bed one night with my laptop and the prospectus for my London university, which by that time I knew that unless I royally screwed up my exams I would be going to and looked up their study abroad programme. I knew that it was possible for students to spend their second year studying abroad, because I know that Amy has just got back from her year in Australia, and I remember reading over her application for her, but I had absolutely no idea which institutions my probable uni was paired with, so I had absolutely no idea where it might be possible for me to go. 

Now, I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, and I'd been so disappointed by what universities I had got into, what I found out during that late night research session made me realise why I was likely to end up in London. My university was partnered with the University of California, the state I had just come from. There was a chance of me going back. 
Over the next few months it really surprised me that I really missed California, even after spending such little time there. I put so much time and effort (and panic) into my application in November, and over the next month or so I managed to persuade myself that there was absolutely no way that I'd get into the programme, and I think I must have sat there for five whole minutes shaking when I got the news that I'd done it, I'd been accepted and I was going to California. 

So, there you have it. This is the big change I have been hinting about since January when I've been talking about how everything was going to be changing for me in 2012! I hope you'll all continue to stay with me and read all about my adventures when I cross the Atlantic and take up residence on the Golden Coast!
3 Keeping me going over the last few months, as well as working on my Californication board on Pinterest, I have been indulging in some of my favourite Califonia based lifestyle blogs... 

  1. Sincerely, Jules - Jules is beautiful, has incredible style and lives in Los Angeles. My favorite of her posts she entitles 'Insta-Jules' - I'm going to try and get an iPhone in LA, and she is going to be the first person I follow on Instagram!
  2. Cheyenne Meets Chanel - If I had to pick my favourite Californian blog out of the bunch, that has really kept me going with outfit inspiration while I compile my new wardrobe, insights of great places I could take my outfit photos, and general Los Angeles happiness I'd have to choose Shea Marie's incredible blog - I don't know what I'd do if she stopped posting, and I really hope to run into her in LA one day!
  3. Fashion Toast - So Rumi's blog may be one of the biggest fashion blogs in the world, but I don't love it for her clothes. I love it gives such an amazing aesthetic insight into Los Angeles with her and her boyfriend Colin's dreamy photography.
  4. Galetea - Model and Photographer Francessca's blog gives a true LA insight with her photography, which really paints a picture of life in the city, not just all the highly glossed stuff you see on television (though, that really does not stop me devouring episodes of 90120 and Californication anyway!)
  5. NJ in LA - I adore Natalie's blog because it is a fashion and food blog, just like mine! Her food features have made me make the worlds longest list of places I want to eat in Los Angeles (as well as all over California), and her many photo diaries from her trips out into the desert make me want to get a drivers permit (I'm already starting to speak like an American) and go on a road trip!
  6. Late Afternoon - Liz's outfit photos are simply breathtaking. I'd love the blog even if it were not in the California category, but her outfits really inspire me for my new warmer weather wardrobe. Her outfit for the first day of Coachella (which I am totally going to hit up next year) has to have been my favourite look from the whole festival. 
Words do not describe how happy and I excited I am about my impending move at the end of August, and I just want to thank all my wonderful readers for their support over the last three and a half years - here is to the future!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Recipe: Hot King Prawns In Garlic Butter

As my first original (not adapted from an existing recipe from a book or blog) recipe I want to feature on my blog this Summer, as well as the first recipe I'm bringing you from my French kitchen I wanted to share with you all my absolute all time favourite thing to cook with my father that we make every time we come to Brittany together where seafood like the prawns necessary for this recipe are cheap and in abundance: King Prawns cooked in hot and delicious garlic butter. 
Aside from the incredible taste, what I love about this recipe is that it is so stupidly easy to make and is great as a lunch or a light supper, serve with lovely fresh crusty bread to mop up the delicious butter from the bottom of your bowl. Of course, as we always make this in France we opt for freshly baked pieces of crusty French stick from the local bakery. 
All you need is a large lump of unsalted butter (I know I have pictured half salt butter, but it also works and it is all we could get at the local shop as I'd forgotten to pick some up at the supermarket, unsalted butter is preferable though as it is much creamier and creates a much better flavour), a couple of big fat garlic cloves, a bunch of fresh parsley and some large cooked, shell on prawns. If you are making this in most parts of England, or really anywhere inland I would recommend you use large king prawns, but the ones I am using here are in fact just large prawns. If you live near the coast and can get them this size go for it, because the taste will be so much sweeter than with actual king prawns. 
The incredibly fresh and sized seafood available in Brittany, as a seafood lover is one of my favourite things about the region and its seaside towns, both from fish markets and even from the big supermarkets where I would not dream of picking up good seafood in England. This large box cost 9€ and can serve about 6 people - we polished if off between the two of us over a lunch and two light suppers after we had eaten out at lunchtime. 
The process of cooking is really simple. Melt 4 or 5 thick slices of butter in a pan over a medium heat until it is bubbling slightly. If you are using even slightly salted butter take extra care to make sure the butter does not burn as the salt makes this a lot more likely. Peel and either finely chop or crush the garlic and stir that into the butter before adding the prawns until they cover the bottom of the pan. Toss them every few minutes so they are entirely coated in the butter and they start to heat through. While you are doing this, melt a few more thick slices of butter into the pan around the prawns. Once the butter has turned slightly orange, smells amazing and the prawns have heated through, stir in a very large handful of chopped parsley and serve the prawns in slightly warmed bowls to stop the butter from starting to set in the bottom as you eat. 

While I like this as an indulgent meal (I make the excuse that the amount of butter I consume with prawns and melted with sugar over crepes when I am in France is okay because I don't have any butter in my sandwiches or on toast during the year), if you are putting together a Summer dinner party for friends for a quick and delicious starter you can serve four or five of these garlic prawns in the middle of a bed of dressed salad leaves and leave little finger bowls of hot water with slices of fresh lemon in around the table - a fancy starter that takes almost no effort at all! 

What is the most delicious and foolproof dish you like to make while you are away on holiday? If anyone tries this, I'd really love to hear what you think!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Outfit Post: One Of The Most Beautiful Views In Europe

To kick off the posts of photos I have planned from my lovely and relaxing trip to France I arrived back from yesterday, I wanted to share with you my favourite place I visited called Cap Frehel, which is one of the Northern most points in Brittany, where on a clear day you can see the Channel Islands across the ocean and a place that puts the phrase 'place of outstanding natural beauty' totally to shame. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Product Review: Baobab Collection Madagascar Vanilla Candle

I love scented candles. I'm in the middle of having a total overhaul of my room at the moment (I'm going to try and post photos of it for you all once I'm finished) and I think there is at least once scented candle on every single surface. I love jasmine candles, so this tends to be what I gravitate towards every time I buy them for myself. When the guys at luxury lifestyle store Amara offered to send me a Madagascar Vanilla scented candle to review, it really got me wondering why I don't really try to branch out into other scents. I'm actually a big fan of vanilla scented products, so I got very excited for this to arrive. 

I usually go for or get given one wick candles so it is something a bit different for me to have something so big and heavy. I think it is actually a really good size and shape and it is going to take pride of place in the middle of my coffee table. Also, even though there are four wicks not one, think of how much longer it will last! 
After about 10 minutes of letting it burn the candle fills the room with the most deliciously sweet (but not at all sickly) vanilla scent which makes a nice background scent, perfect for when you're not looking for something perfectly exotic. I think I'm going to enjoy burning this one when I am working late evenings. 

What are your favourite candle scents? 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Summer Holiday Reading List 2012

Though I don't really get much time for it these days, I'm a massive reader and a great advocate for the written word. When I was a kid I used to read a book a day, and now while I try to have a book on the go and I still read loads as I'm doing English Literature at university, but actual books I want to read for myself? Novels? Political and historical biographies? As I have already mentioned earlier in the week I'm in France at the moment, and the house in France where I don't have phones and internet (the main reasons I don't get as much read as I used to) is a place where I try to get some writing done and be creative, as well as the place I try to get back to my old standard of one a day. I don't write much about books on this blog which I think is a shame, so I thought I'd share my holiday reading list for this week with you all. 
Hilary Mantel

A little known fact about me (unless you happen to have had to put up with being in my Literatures In Time seminar group this year, sorry I never shut up!) is that I am a total nut for anything and everything to do with the 16th century and the Tudor court. There was a time when I would absolutely devour every single new release that came out about the era, so I can't believe I have taken the acclaimed Tudor political thriller Wolf Hall on three consecutive holidays without starting it (I very nearly started it last year, but I got distracted by One Day). Hopefully this will be the year?

Laura Jane Cassidy

Next on my list is Eighteen Kisses, the second novel by blogger Laura Jane Cassidy. I reviewed the first book in the series Angel Kiss when it came out, both for this blog and The Guardian, and I'm really looking forward to delving into this second one as I don't get to read much teen fiction anymore as I'm not writing for The Guardian's Childrens Books site anymore. If you like teen fiction that is totally realistic, in tune while still being occupied with the supernatural, if you're a teen or an adult I know you'll enjoy Angel Kiss, and I'm sure Eighteen Kisses is going to be up to the same standard too.  

Amanda Foreman

I've actually had this book on my 'to read' pile for years, ever since the brilliant film starring Kiera Knightly came out but that pile is so big I kept on not getting around to reading the story of Georgina the rebellious Duchess. It caught my eye as I was choosing titles, and while I don't usually choose books of this ilk I'm looking forward to reading it and I think I'm going to really enjoy it. If any of you have read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section!

Kazuo Ishiguro

Another paperback I've had for ages, this one since AS Level English Literature where I was supposed to by studying it before I switched to another class who were studying modern drama instead. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it and I gather it has been made into a film - has anyone seen it? It is also supposed to be a heart wrenching story and Ishiguro is supposed to be a fantastic writer - a bit of a change of pace! 

Randsom Riggs

A bit of a random shot into the list, this is a review copy I was sent in my capacity as a reviewer over at Judging Covers. I'm curious as it is a mixed media book, incorporating photos into the text, and the promise of a group of children stumbling on sinister goings on and secrets on a small island sounds promising!

Sonia Purnell

Finally the only hardback; the book I'm reading at the moment and about 100 pages in. Also, strangely for me the only book associated with modern politics. This was actually a Christmas present from my Aunt, and as I have spent months listening to people who work for London's enigmatic mayor telling me that the whole thing is rubbish I was curious. I'm taking it all with a pinch of salt (I've spent enough time hanging around Westminster to know that is the only way to read a political book) but it is a really interesting read and very enjoyable. Love him or hate him, who does not want to know more about Boris Johnson?

What is on your holiday reading list this Summer?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Press Day: Next AW12

To celebrate their 30th anniversary Next took over the Portico Rooms at Somerset House to showcase their AW12 collection, their anniversary capsule collection and to generally show the gathered bloggers and associated press as great time. Before I get onto the actual clothes, accessories and home wear I want to thank the team at Next for the delicious cocktails, macaroons and gold leaf brownies we were all served!Also, kudos for having an Essie nail bar; best nail polish brand ever!
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I was pretty impressed with some of their 30th anniversary collection. There was a poncho with a fur trim I was quite enamoured by, and these jeans are pretty rad, even though I don't 'do' prints!
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I think the stand out from this collection have to be the amazing and classic accessories, especially the many pairs of fantastic shoes and boots that were on display making us almost wish that it was not Summer sandal weather outside!
An item I'm sure many of us wanted right there on the spot because they would be perfect for all seasons are these glitter embellished Cuban ankle boots. I have seen so many DIY's around the web dedicated to decorating boots like this, and now you will be able to get them if you're not a partially crafty soul too, and as this is Next for a very reasonable price I'll bet to boot (excuse the pun!)
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Something else from the shoe collection that constitutes a real steal ar these Miu Miu style glitter heels I was getting excited about; perfect if you just can't quite afford the real thing!
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What out of these pictures are you most excited about from Next this Autumn? Also, in honour of Next's 30th anniversary, what is your first memory of a Next purchase? I think mine is a super comfortable taupe suede brightly embellishes pair of sandals when I was a kid!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Let's Talk About: Missoni

Now, I want to take a moment to talk about Missoni. For a very long time, while things in a very fine knit should really be my thing, I think the colours and patterns put me off a bit and it has been a brand that I have never really much cared for. However, while I am stil not really a fan of their clothing I've been starting to look more and more at their collections; I really love some of the shoes and accessories they have out this season. 

While I think all of these shoulder bags are pretty fantastic, there is a special place in my heart for this beautiful black and gold number, and if it were not for the fact that I had just got my hands on my beautiful new See by Chloe black and gold shoulder bag I think I would be seriously ordering it. 

I think these sandals are so sweet and would be perfect for the Summer, but it is these pretty blue espadrilles which are the perfect kick back shoe that I'm getting excited about. However, if I had to pick anything from this post to have in my possession right now it would have to be this beautiful striped scarf; it is just so pretty! 

What do you think of Missoni? Are you a fan of their clothes, or like me just their accessories? 

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

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Little Dress Shop

To celebrate the fact that my favourite dress shop in my idilic hometown of Canterbury has just launched an e-commerce site so you can now all shop there without having to come and visit (though, I really think you ought to do that too - you can check out somewhere on my every growing list of 'Places To Eat In Canterbury' while you're here), I thought I'd reintroduce you to Armoire, or as it is know to the locals: 'The Little Dress Shop'. 
Run by the absolutely lovely Sophie, assisted by her mother and her adorable baby daughter from the very first time I stepped into the shop a few months after it opened right around the corner (with my arms full of clothes we had borrowed for a charity fashion show at school)  from my school gate I knew it was going to be the beginning of a very long love affair with the place. 
Aside from owning may dresses from Armoire over the years (Sophie stocks brands such as Orion, Soolee, Darimeya and Mina) I regularly stop by for a chat on the really compfy sofa to flick through magazines and chat for a while, and I filmed in the store and pulled dresses from there when I was filming with Channel 4. It is also one of the places I always make sure I take my girlfriends to check out when they come down to visit. 
Before I show you around the shop, you can find it on Palace Street, by the Mint Yard Gate of Canterbury Cathedral and around the corner of the main Cathedral gate. (After you've been to Armoire, I suggest you pop around the corner to Sugar Boy which is the very picture of what a traditional sweet shop should be).
I've always loved the decor in Armoire, but my favourite part of the shop has to be the beautiful fitting room with the heavy pink velvet curtains (pulled back on a crystal holder when the room is not in use), wall to wall mirrors, antique chair and coat stand for the things you are trying on and thick layers of white tulle on the back wall.  
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All the jewellery in Armoire is unique and handmade, mostly by local artists, and really unique so perfect if you are looking for something just a little bit different. It all suits the style of dresses Sophie has in stock, so if you are dressing for an event you'll be sure to find something to go with your dress purchase. 
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As well as dresses, jewellery (and most recently adorable baby clothes) in the store you can also find the occasional beautiful piece for your home like boudoir mirrors and antique chairs upholstered with fun and beautiful fabrics. 
Last year she got these beautiful silver vintage charm pendant necklaces in stock, and I'm still not entirely sure why I have not treated myself to one yet!
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The newest addition to the store are these amazing and adorable bath cupcakes that look good enough to eat from LOved Essentials - they come in these lovely fold up boxes so I will be keeping these in mind the next time I'm looking for cute little thank you gifts for my girlfriends!

Do you have any favourite independent little shops in your hometown you have been visiting for years? To get updates from Armoire, be sure to like their Facebook page