Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Recipe: Easy Summer Iced Tea with Twinings

In Summer, there is nothing I like to drink more than a big glass of iced tea. I love to make it with iced tea teabags, as the stuff you get in bottles has so much sugar, but while we Brits are massive tea drinkers we did not really ever jump onto the iced tea bandwagon, so they can be very hard to come by. When I am in France I like to stock up on Twinings Peach Iced Tea teabags for cold water (so much better than the Lipton flavours you can also get in French supermarkets). However, when my stock starts to get a little low I make up and refrigerate jugs full of an iced tea recipe I invented a few years ago from regular Twinings teabags. 
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It is really simple to make and you can make it to whatever your tastes or whatever tea you have laying around. Basically, you need to allow one tea bag per glass you can fit into your jug, pour over hot water as if you were making tea, allow to cool, refrigerate, and fish out the teabags just before serving. The reason this is so much better than just drinking cold tea, is you can mix up different flavours with different bag combinations. However, I think lots together taste delicious. I tend to go for green tea, white tea and fruit tea together (it creates a lighter flavour than if you put Earl Grey in, though that also works too). At the moment, Green Tea with Jasmine, White Tea with Pomegranate and Blueberry and Apple Tea. 
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Drinking it like that straight is brilliant for every day, but if you're looking to put together a Summer style afternoon tea for some friends, your iced tea will look fantastic (and have some extra flavour too) if you serve it in a tall glass jug with some fresh torn mint leaves, thinly sliced fresh strawberry and a handful of ice cubes. 


Who here is a fan of iced tea? If you try this out, let me know how you get on and what combination you tried!

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

Monday, 30 July 2012

Political Style: Does It Really Matter How Our Leaders Dress?

A few Sundays ago I was sitting reading The Sunday Times (a challenge in itself; I am small and your average broadsheet is rather large. You try reading a newspaper that is basically your arm span sometime!) and there was a piece criticizing what French Cabinet Minister Cecile Duflot has been turning up to Cabinet meetings wearing; outfits that included a skirt that came a bit above her knee (but was in no way so short it could be considered unbecoming) and a pair of jeans in a rather wonderful trench coat ensemble. She has also recently been wolf whistled in the French parliament for wearing a stylish blue and white dress. It may just be that I don’t find issue with her outfits because I am rather sartorially inclined, but I find myself wishing women in the British political arena took more care in their appearance.
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Louise Mench, British Member of Parliament for Corby in GQ Magazine

From female Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers to most House of Commons staffers that swarm the cafeterias at Parliamentary lunchtime most of the women assembled, it can be said, don’t really take much care in what they are wearing. There are a few notable exceptions; Conservative MP Louise Mench has been ridiculed by the British  media for appearing in sharp, tailored looks in GQ, and newspapers have kept up a satirical running commentary on Home Secretary Theresa May’s fun shoe collection which includes a pretty spectacular pair of leopard print kitten heels. 
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French Minister for Territorial Equality and Housing Cecile Duflot

The enduring argument is that it does not really matter how politicians dress as it is their job to run our country, not our fashion weeks, but isn’t it their duty as public figures to look smart and presentable? In the past it has been argued that being interested in fashion and personal style shows that you’re not intelligent, but that simply does not hold anymore. Caring about your personal style means caring about how you present yourself to the world, so should we not care how our representatives are presenting us, and not just themselves by how they have dressed?

It is not just the woman; I can’t think of many other countries in the world where male politicians can get away with standing up in Parliament or on television in a disheveled and ill fitting suit; thank God that of all the current front bench David Cameron is our Prime Minister and not Ken Clarke. Who here would prefer a man standing up in a ill fitting and creased suit and representing Britain at the United Nations or at the G8, or someone in a crisp, well tailored suit? 


This brings me to my final question for you all, do you think it matters how our political leaders dress? Obviously it is their opinions and policies that really count, but as we seem to hold politicians to higher moral standards (think about our reactions when politicians are found to have had affairs or to have briefly sampled drugs in their early youth) should we also hold them to higher sartorial standards too?

Friday, 27 July 2012

Weekly Love: Week 110

This week has been a week spent at home; working, making and eating some more Innocent Smoothie Boozy Popsicles, and working some more. Not letting the opportunity of this wonderful week of sunshine that is supposed to break this evening slip past, I volunteered to run some errands in Canterbury on Monday and also picked up some amazing Yves Saint Laurent makeup goodies in the tale end of the sale, and again yesterday to have lunch with Kathryn. This afternoon we're heading off  to have a barbecue on the beach - I have been looking forward to it all week, and I made potato salad for the occasion! 
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1.Mixed platter for two at Cafe Du Soleil in Canterbury. | 2. Fresh cut white roses in my bedroom. | 3. In Saturday's Times there were a couple of recipes inspired by Cabana Brazilian Barbecue in London. Obviously the recipe for Brazilian Barbecue Prawns was too much to resist - totally delicious too! | 4. Banana & Nutella Swirl Breakfast Muffins, recipe from The Londoner. | 5. Love Lane, one of my favourite road signs in Canterbury. | 6. A beautiful day on the River Stour.


In other news, this week over at Grazia Daily along with some of my fellow bloggers and the Grazia beauty editors I've shared what beauty products are essential to my workout - for me, what products I use to re-hydrate my skin when I get out of the swimming pool. Also, if you have not already, I'd really appreciate it if you could vote for my beauty blog, The Glossy Guide in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, when it has been nominated as Best New Beauty Blog!

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What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Recipe: Lunchtime Italian Style Open Topped Bagels with Mozzarella and Deli Salami

Lunchtime is always a bit of a conundrum for me. Breakfast, simple: usually I go for a bowl of fresh berries topped with yogurt. Dinner? I try out different recipes, make big meals etc. but I never really know what to make for lunch. It has become one of my food resolutions to try and be more adventurous with my lunches, and when I picked up some delicious cured salami in a local deli I decided to take a look at what I had in the fridge and in the larder. I came up with this, a Italian style open topped bagel. 
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You can really use anything you have to hand, but I think all of the flavours in this version I came up with blend perfectly. I used 1/2 a ball of mozzarella (I had this for lunch two days in a row), a plain bagel (though I think this would be fantastic with a seed bagel), a handful of fresh rocket, a large sliced tomato, good quality salami, good quality olive oil and a small wedge of fresh lemon.

Cut the bagel in half and toast it. The moment it comes out of the toaster tear the mozzarella over it so the mozzarella melts slightly onto the bread. Cut the salami rounds into quarters and scatter half of the pieces over the cheese. Then top with the rocket, the sliced tomatoes and the rest of the salami. Season well with freshly ground salt and pepper, squeeze over the lemon and a generous drizzle of olive oil. 
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Obviously the better the quality of your ingredients, the better the taste but if you want to cut down on costs the only two things you can't really afford to scrimp on are the salami and the olive oil. The salamis you can get in Marks & Spencer are okay if you're making sandwiches or feeding a crowd, but for something like this you really need to head out to a delicatessen for the very best. This one is dense, meaty and packed with flavour. 
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At the moment I have been using this can of Simply Extra Virgin I picked up in Tescos in my salads, but I have my eye on returning to the deli I got the salami from for some lemon infused extra virgin olive oil, which I think would be fantastic in this recipe, as well as on its own for a dressing. 


Have you made anything different for your lunch recently? 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

How To Pack For And Survive A Long Haul Flight

Things have really started to get real now. My flight leaves from London Heathrow and touches down at Los Angeles International in exactly 45 days. I have 45 days left in England. My leaving party is in exactly 10 days. I've started to collect travel sizes of everything, and literally the only things I have left to sort out is travel insurance and for stuff in my new apartment, and shipping boxes. Start to expect a lot more travel and packing pieces here and on The Glossy Guide over the next few weeks!
DSC_0329 A few days ago I realised that one area I had not even started to think about was the flight (I love the details), just how I was getting to the airport and what baggage I'm taking, and how I'm going to get to my new apartment from LAX. So, I've decided to put together this post which is half my long haul travel tips, and half a wish list of things I wish I could have for the flight!
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Lets start with clothing. If you're not the sort of person who is happy wearing sweats in public (remember you'll be in your flight clothes until you reach your final destination) go for a slouchy long sleeve (the air conditioning on aeroplanes is sometimes brutal, no matter how hot your destination, and you can always roll them up when you get there), a vest layer or two underneath so you can layer on and off temperature wise, and your most comfortable jeans or a pair of leggings. Yes, I am willing, for flying long haul only to lift my rule that leggings are not trousers just this once. However, I still feel I will be travelling in a pair of my favourite black high waisted Topshop leggings, a jersey dress and my vintage Levis jacket as it will take up too much valuable room in my suitcase. 

Footwear is of the utmost importance when you are flying. As my grandfather keeps telling me, don't wear anything that laces up, as your feet swell on the flight sometimes and if you take them off you'll have a terrible time putting them back on again when you arrive at your destination. Some might say flip flops, but remember your shoes have to put up with you walking through airports, up moving stairs, and wherever you're going when your flight touches down. I'm going to be flying in my Havaianas Flash Urban sandals that I have been living in this Summer, as they are basically sandals made out of flip flop that I can even run in, and can hold up to all that extra walking in comfort. For the plane, once you've slipped these off take an extra comfortable pair of cashmere bed socks - I adore the ones from The White Company. 

In flight entertainment is rather important, and just before I get on the flight I pick up a copy of The Times (my newspaper of choice, has lots of great extras and is only £1 on weekdays) and some weekly political journals. I was lucky on my last flight to San Francisco I also got a complimentary copy of The Financial Times as I got on the plane (though how they expected me to read a massive broad sheet in economy seating I don't know!) However, so I have two issues to enjoy, a few months before I hang onto and don't read my favourite fashion glossies; Nylon and Tatler so I can enjoy them cover to cover. Almost everyone these days has an iPod and we'll have those with us, fully charged and chocked full of music and podcasts (I recommend the entire back catalogue of Joy The Baker), but on my last flight I really wished I owned an iPad like the guy next to me; fantastic battery life, your own TV shows and movies, games, what more could you want? 

Touch down. What beauty products in 25ml aeroplane sizes should you take for both your in flight comfort, and for little touch ups before you touch down so you don't look like you've been on a plane for hours (I don't recommend wearing any makeup on the plane at all). In flight, a makeup remover wipe in a clear sealed bag to take off any makeup you may be wearing at take off, and a small clear plastic pot with a little of your favourite moisturiser, as the air conditioning and height really dries your skin out. I recommend Clinqiue's Moisture Surge Intense for this. On the way back from San Francisco, I got one of those special duty free bundles on some Clinique products, and in it I got their All About Eyes anti puffiness roll ons, and I think it is the best in flight product I have ever come across in my entire life. It really does sort out puffiness, and it is super cooling every few hours - no bags on touch down! Finally, lips. I swear by Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour products, so the lip version is essential for dealing with chapped lips in flight. Makeup wise, YSL's Touch Eclat solves all ills, and Benefit's Limited Edition Posie Tint/ California Dreaming duo is a great multi purpose product to do cheeks and lips. Finally, Marc Jacobs have come up with an amazing anti break, 25ml bottle of the fantastic Daisy scent especially for aeroplanes, just a little bit of in flight luxury. I hate those clear plastic bags you have to put things in on flights, so once I have got through the security I'm going to tip my travel beauty essentials into this Vivianne Westwood patent pouch which was a gift from the shoe site Spartoo.   

Finally, I asked on Twitter some of my followers what their in haul flight tips were, and here are a few of the gems: 
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Also for in flight tips, I just keep and keep on referring back to this great long haul in flight travel guide by one of my favourite bloggers, and ultimate globe trotter Gala Darling - her tips were very useful when I embarked on my first ever long haul flight!


What are your long haul in flight essentials? 

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

Monday, 23 July 2012

Outfit Post: Whistles Maxi Dress

Something very exciting happened to me a few Sundays ago. I was wandering along Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill with Sherin after a lovely lunch at Taqueria and we decided to stop off in one of my favourite British High Street stores: Whistles. The Whistles on Westbourne Grove has moved up the street from next to Tom's Deli to almost next to Granger & Co. and I really love the new store layout. Anyway, back to the really exciting part. I am short. Not just a little bit short, but almost every single person towers over me at London Fashion Week if I don't wear heels - photos of me interviewing tall supermodels make my friends and family laugh for months - maxi dresses in shops are taller than I am short. Most things maxi look pretty stupid on me, but since I found success with a petite vintage maxi dress, I've been craving another one. It has been rather a depressing shopping Summer looking for one, where for once clothes shopping has been putting me in a really bad mood. But I found it. A maxi dress that I don't have to wear heels with to keep it off the ground. 
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Maxi Dress: Whistles, Sandals: Marc O'Polo c/o Spartoo, Bracelet: Gift, Key Pendant: Tiffany & Co.

It is a pretty amazing dress, and I think the only problem with it is you can't get it anymore; it was a brilliant sale find, reduced to £55 from £95 (even if it did annoy me that the solid black version was £50, I had to pay £5 extra for stripes!). I tried both on, and not only am I really happy I went for the stripes because I love how it looks on, but judging by the dress she describes in her text, I'm pretty sure my best friend Kathryn picked up the black version in the sales as well! It is super comfortable, and I'm really looking forward to wearing it as an every day dress in Los Angeles paired with simple silver jewellery and a pair of these plain black leather sandals like these Marc O'Polo ones I have been living in this Summer. 

Now, as you can't get this dress (or the sandals for that matter) anymore, I thought this post would be the perfect opportunity to try out this shopping widget of similar items to items in my outfits I'm thinking of including at the bottom of my outfit posts in future, and some of my brand focus features too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this widget, if you think I should try to include more items, make it more specific, do more of them, less of them, if you think it is a brilliant idea, or if you think it is a terrible one!


What is the one item of clothing you always have problems shopping for?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Weekly Love: Week 109

It has been a very busy week for me, spending the weekend at home in Kent before heading up to Liverpool for an afternoon before catching a boat over the Irish Sea to visit family on the Isle Of Man (photos below). Also, my beauty blog The Glossy Guide has been nominated for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award in the category of Best New Beauty Blog! Thank you so much to all of my amazing readers who nominated me, you have no idea how much this means to me to see so much of my hard work on my blogs acknowledged like this! I would really appreciate it if you could vote for The Glossy Guide. Also, massive shout outs for some of my friends and amazing bloggers Elodie and Rose who have been nominated in the Established Fashion Blog and Food Blog categories respectively - go check out your blogs because I think they really deserve your vote! 
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1. Waterfront buildings in Liverpool. | 2. Fenella's Beach in front of Peel Castle on the Isle Of Man. | 3. Ballaugh Shore one evening on the Isle Of Man. On a clear day you can see both Scotland and Ireland from this beach. | 4. A delicious homemade sausage platter at The Cider Works in Kent. | 5. Mr Whippy ice creams from a traditional ice cream van in Liverpool. | 6. The ruins of the cathedral at Peel Castle.


Also, at the weekend along with some of my fellow bloggers and the Grazia Editors, I shared my must have beauty product of the moment over at Grazia Daily!


What have you been enjoying this week, and what have you got planned for the weekend? 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Project Mooreo: The Oreo Filled Milka Bar

It is hard to say no when someone offers to send you free chocolate in the post, really. When I was a kid (and okay, now as an adult when I'm feeling naughty) I loved Milka Chocolate. I used to get great big slabs of it in French supermarkets, and every Easter I used to enjoy their mousse filled chocolate eggs that came in a little purple egg box and you ate with a little spoon. Unfortunately, Milka no longer do those eggs, but something which they have just launched and the team at Cybercandy sent me a slab of, is Milka with an Oreo centre.
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While this is a bit sickly and I would not recommend you eat a whole bar by yourself, it is absolutely delicious. I don't like things like milk or hot chocolate, so I always find Oreos a bit dry and I can only manage one or two at once. However, as a chocolate bar filling they are perfect. Do Milka fancy making a version of this bar with mint Oreos too?
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While my family and I have rapidly consumed this bar, while I ate I started plotting. I think I want to get my hands on another bar, because while the center is soft if I put it in the fridge for a while I think it would chop up well and make for some pretty amazing chocolate chip cookies.
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Serve with the obligatory glass of milk, and if you are suffering from particular chocolate cravings, a big mug of hot chocolate.


What is your favourite type of foreign chocolate or candy bar?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

You Need To Know About: Sugar Paper, Los Angeles

I love beautiful stationary. I always have done, always will. I remember when I was a kid, I used to spend all of my pocket money on pretty pens, notepaper, cards and files in Paperchase. And then I discovered the internet. Now, I think the only hand written notes I send to people in the post are scribbled birthday cards I purchased last minute (only while I'm writing this do I realise that it is really awful that I don't put nearly as much care into choosing the card as I do choosing the gift) and brief thank you notes when I myself have received something in turn. I'd already resolved that as I am about to move half way around the world my friends and family will be hearing a lot more from me than usual via snail mail, and thanks to my discovery that Sugar Paper, Los Angeles have a store in walking distance (well, about 25 minutes) from my new apartment, that is going to make my resolution a hell of a lot easier.
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Set Of 6 Pink Thank You Notes: $16, 'Hi There' Card: $6, Yellow & Pink Birthday Card: $6, Blue Calligraphy Birthday Card: $6, Set of 10 Monogrammed Notecards: $28

How pretty and unique are these cards? They do festive designs too, so I'm thinking I get a set of notecards to say thank you after Christmas and after my birthday, birthday cards for all my friends and family, and some general hello cards for little updates throughout the year? 
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Set of 18 Gift Tags: $24, Ampersand Art Print: $40, Los Angeles Print: $50, Pink 2013 Desk Calendar: $52

As well as notecards, Sugar Paper also do some pretty great alternative paper goodies. I always find it hard to find some cool and unique gift tags, and I'd absolutely love to receive gift embellished with one of these 'For You' cards. However, I'm stupidly tempted by one of their art prints for my new Los Angeles apartment (wither this Los Angeles text one, or this Los Angeles map print) and one of these card stand calendars for my desk at home once I return next July. 


Where do you like to buy your stationary? 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Recipe: Boozy Innocent Smoothie Popsicles

In the Summer, when I was a kid, instead of always having shop brought ice lollies my Mummy used to experiment with making our own for me using drinking yogurt, fromage frais, fruit juice and practically everything healthy you could possibly think of giving your child. (I think the drinking yogurt ones were my favourite!) For years the popsicle mould sat in the bottom of our larder not doing much until I had an idea. You can make ice lollies out of Innocent Smoothie, right? And you can add alcohol to them, right? And so my Boozy Innocent Smoothie Popsicles were born...
DSC_0172 All the measurements depend on your moulds, but for a mix that makes about 10 popsicles you need one regular sized carton of smoothie and 85g of alcohol, extremely well mixed. You can use any flavour combination you wish, but my favourite combination so far that I really cannot get enough of is Strawberry & Banana smoothie with Limencello Liquor which makes irresistible strawberry and lemon popsicles. Also in the picture is Kiwis, Apples & Limes smoothie with Vodka. It makes for a really refreshing and slightly sour popsicle, but you can barely taste the Vodka in them. A little pro tip, if you find with your moulds you find it hard to get the lid off as the lolly sticks have slanted about anchoring it in place, let it freeze for an hour before you put the sticks in.


I'd love it if you let me know what you thought of these if you try them, and any of your favourite combinations if you try something different - at the moment I'm plotting Pineapples, Bananas & Coconuts smoothie with Rum... 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Weekly Love: Week 108

This week was not being very remarkable, so I took the snap decision to head to London on Saturday for a wonderful Mexican lunch with Sherin, a wander around some of my favourite London haunts and a quick catch up with Amy now she is back from Australia, before I head off to Los Angeles. A couple of the photos this week come from a feature I'm putting together for the Pilgrims Nook blog on local farm shops, which I drove around in an afternoon with my Mother, we had a lot of fun exploring and photographing! On Sunday I'm heading off to the Isle Of Man in the Irish sea to spend some time with my family. It will be nice to see everyone, but I'm not happy about heading somewhere cold in the middle of Summer!
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1. Olympic International Flags on Regents Street. | 2. Fresh cut roses and peonies from the local florist. | 3. Local Devils Revenge and Dragons Breath Mustards from Mama Feelgoods. | 4. Freshly picked Kent Strawberries. | 5. My new favourite shower gel, L'Occitane's Pivoine Delicate Peony. | 6. A quick, easy and easy lunch time recipe that will be coming soon!




What have you been enjoying this week, and what are you looking forward to this weekend?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lust List: Nauticals

I was putting my clothes away on my clothing rail after I'd done the ironing the other day, and I had to stop for a moment when I realised the sheer volume of nautical style, blue and white striped items that have found their way there since the beginning of the Spring. I've always enjoyed wearing things in blue, and things that are striped, but this got me thinking what other nautical inspired items I could add to my wardrobe... 
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Though this is mostly a wishlist, there a few items I have included here that I already own. Benefit's Benetint is one of the first products I purchased from my now favourite makeup brand, and I think the slightly flushed pink sheen it adds to your lips and cheeks after layered application is perfect for when you're on the deck of a friends boat. I also own these wonderful Sperry Top-Sider Boat Shoes. It is always hard to find Summer shoes that are also practical to run around in, and I don't know how I would have survived this Summer without my pair - they are really great for driving!


What have your favourite nautical pieces been this Summer?

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Places To Eat In London: Taqueria, Westbourne Grove

While my favourite thing to eat out is no doubt brunch, coming in at a close second is good Mexican food. This, paired with the fact that Taqueria, the tiny little Mexican cafe I sampled last weekend is in my favourite Notting Hill area Westbourne Grove, I sort of knew I would be onto a winner; and that was before I tasted the food! Also, a side note before I begin: when the bill came we were totally shocked. £30 for soft drinks, two mains, a side and two desserts in London? Please tell me where else, other than The Diner you can get food that tastes as amazing for this sort of price in the city?
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One quick tip for decifering the menu: though the ingredients are listed mostly in English, or the flavours of whatever it is, unless you don't mind being a little adventurous, unless you know a lot about Mexican food or you speak Spanish and you want to know exactly what you're getting take a Spanish dictionary. 
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While I was very tempted by the watermelon mojitos, I was super glad I opted to try the watermelon soft cooler instead. The taste was so refreshing, light and divine, I want them to bottle it and sell it so I can enjoy it every afternoon at home I opt to sit on the patio with a book in the sun. 
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Now, I don't eat peanuts, but I decided to include this photo of the nibbles we were presented with while we pondered the menu as they looked amazing, and I was assured they were amazing too. 
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Usually, I'm very good at being decisive and choosing off of the menu, but here there were so many amazing things I wanted to try, my eyes kept of darting around the room to see what other people were eating. Apparently Sherin, my dining partner that day had never seen me looked so panicked in the couple of years she has known me. In the end, I just decided to go for the first tacos listed on the menu, as I realised I'd never actually eaten tacos out in a restaurant before. The delicious combination of marinated pulled pork, onions, coriander and pineapple made me want to eat many, many more of them...
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As a side, I went for Mexican fried rice with fried plantain, both of which were divine. I'm a big fan of flavoured rices, and this was perfectly spiced, and the plantain was cooked to perfection. 
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Sherin has a mushroom and salsa Tostadas, which is basically a cheese topped tortilla with the filling spooned on top. I ate a large portion of the mushroom and salsa topping as she found it a bit too spicy, and it was mouth wateringly good. I don't usually think of mushrooms as Mexican food, but the flavours blended perfectly. I need more of that fresh salsa in my life. 
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For dessert, we both went for the Churros, which were perfectly crispy and fried before being coated in cinnamon, served with goats milk liquid toffee. I'm used to having my Churros with a chocolate dip, so this made a very welcome and very delicious change. 


I really can't wait to go back to Taqueria to try so many of the other delicious things on the menu, as well as maybe some of the cocktails too. Where are your favourite Mexican restaurants in London?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Rachel Phipps x Havaianas: City Sandals

Way back in the first real burst of sunshine in March I spent a sunny Monday morning with a French film crew in the middle of Hyde Park to spend the morning styling looks to match each of the three new sandals styles Havaianas to three major cities in my three favourite countries in the world; London, Paris and Los Angeles...

The London shoe is the 'Freedom' model, the Paris shoe my personal favourite, the 'Flash' and Los Angeles the 'Grace'.

So, these are my looks I'd wear with Havaianas new sandals, but I'd love to see how you'd style them too! Havaianas and I are teaming up to give one of my readers the chance to win 2 pairs of your choice of Havaianas sandals, flip flops or espadrilles from the Havaianas store, and the chance to appear on my and Havaianas official blogs and Facebook pages. All you have to do is email me a look of what you would wear with a pair of Havaianas sandals (with 'Havaianas' in the subject line) and the entries will be judged by the Havaianas team and I. Some of my favourite runners up will also be appearing on my blog too. Your entry can be anything from a collage, a link to a Pinterest board, or an outfit photo - just be creative! You have 10 days to enter; this competition will close on July 20th and I will announce the winner on July 24th - good luck and I can't wait to see your entries!


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

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Dear Rachel: Where Should I Eat When I Visit London?

I have not done one of these 'Dear Rachel' posts for a while, even though quite a few people have been emailing and Tweeting me questions. As I am away from London this Summer, one of the few things I have really been missing is the amazing choice of places to eat out (though I'm hoping to find some amazing new eateries to frequent in Los Angeles), so I had a lot of fun answering this question. If anyone has any questions you'd like me to answer, drop me an email or send me a tweet - I honestly don't mind!

Dear Rachel,
It's my 21st Birthday in September and I'm thinking of heading to London with my boyfriend. I'm a massive foodie, and I don't want to spend a weekend in London and go to all the wrong places, I want to make this weekend perfect! Could you recommend some places to eat; breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as maybe a few good places for drinks?
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Well, lets start with breakfast (it is usually what comes at the beginning!) In my mind, a Sunday morning in the city is not complete without a good breakfast or brunch, and if I had the time I think I would apply that to every weekday. Lets go to one of my favourite places in London: Westbourne Grove in Notting HillIt is one of the most fashionable roads in the city and has some great shops, as well as a surprisingly calm atmosphere, even on a Saturday which is surprising as it is just off of Portobello Road (incidentally, if you go to brunch in Westbourne Grove in a Saturday morning, the market is a lot of fun to look around!). So, my favourite Westbourne Grove brunch spot is Bill Granger's restaurant Granger & Co. The food is amazing and I love the atmosphere. The iced tea is also the best blend I have ever tasted in my entire life. Usually, I find the new fashionable thing to do in restaurants, refuse to take bookings, rather irritating. However, while this is Granger & Co.'s policy, the food is well worth the wait and you can leave your name at the door and you get told when to come back so you can go off and explore the amazing area. As I said, there are some amazing shops and boutiques on Westbourne Grove, and the Oxfam shop on the corner has some of the most amazing designer finds I've ever seen in a charity shop before. If you're super hungry while you're waiting, you can pick up a pastry from Ottolenghi's around the corner. If you're lucky they'll have their cinnamon buns which are divine. However, if you really can't wait for your meal, Tom's Deli has the most amazing breakfasts, and 202 has a fantastic community atmosphere and a great clothing boutique in its basement. 
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Before I move onto lunch and dinner, I just wanted to suggest one of my favourite London afternoons which I have done several times. After brunch in Notting Hill, and if it is a Saturday a wander around the market, catch the N28 bus from Notting Hill Gate and stay on it until you reach Camden Town. Camden Locks is where I first visited, the first ever day I was left to my own devices in London, and while I don't really frequent the North of the city, I still love to spend an afternoon wondering around the eclectic stalls and amazing street food. They also have bubble tea and nitrogen ice cream! Once you're done there and you've eaten a very late mid afternoon lunch off of one of the street stalls, it is a short walk to Primrose Hill (find it on Google Maps) to visit The Primrose Bakery, which in my opinion has the best cupcakes in London. They are also a lot cheaper than most other cupcake boutiques in London too! After you've eaten walk back the way you came, but instead of heading back to Camden go straight and walk back into Central London through Regents Park, which is a beautiful walk any time of the year. 

Right, lunch and dinner. Lets start with one of my favourite London eateries which I frequent for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails: The Diner. I literally cannot get enough of this all American eatery, which has locations in SoHo, Covent Garden and Shoreditch. From the menu, my picks would be the Sweet Potato Fries, the Tortilla Dog, Blueberry Pancakes, the Breakfast Burrito, the Virgin Mary's and the Southern Iced Tea!

As for bars, you can't go wrong by heading to Covent Garden. Its a bit pricy but I can't recommend my favourite bar int he city; Circus enough. I think the amazing cabaret and burlesque performances make up for the costly (but totally delicious) cocktail menu. I also like going down the road to Foundation which has good drinks, a great underground chic atmosphere and amazing bar food and pizzas.

I've covered Central, West and North London, but lets not forget my old stomping ground of East London. If you are at all into vintage shopping head over the the Blitz Vintage Department Store which is incredibly laid out and just about the only vintage store I enjoy shopping in. I try to head in there ever time I have a few spare moments on Brick Lane. Also, if you head East down Brick Lane, head towards Shoreditch High Street station and right next to it is Boxpark, which is a totally awesome pop up shopping centre made out of shipping containers. There is also a wonderful sun deck with different food places for dinner. However, if nothing there takes your fancy you are only a stones throw away from my favourite takeaway burritos in London. Head back to Spitalfields and turn down the side street opposite Patisserie Valerie. There you will find Poncho No8 - I really wish they would open one in Canterbury!


I hope this has given you some ideas for what you could do (and eat) in London this September! 

Friday, 6 July 2012

Weekly Love: Week 107

It has been a quiet week for me in the countryside. On Saturday I again returned to my old school to listen to Michael Morpurgo talk about where the ideas for his books come from, War Horse and his time at school (we went to the same one) - if you ever have the chance to listen to him go speak or give a lecture do, he is an incredible speaker and it was tremendous fun. I met him at a drinks reception later that evening for a choral concert, and he is frankly hilarious. Aside from that, I have just been enjoying the few sunny days, working on the not so lovely ones (and doing the sales, I really don't think they are very good this year, I was not even tempted by anything). To be honest, I feel like I am in some sort of a limbo at the moment; I booked my flight to Los Angeles for September 7th and it is still only July! 
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1. The Lantern Inn at Martin. How adorable does this 17th century country pub look from the outside? | 2. Does this look like Essie's 'Status Symbol' to you? I think it might be. The bargin hunters among you  will be happy to learn you can get bundles of 3 Essie bottles in TK Max for £11.50, but the colours are all labeled up wrong! | 3. For dinner the other day I made Smitten Kitchen's Tzatziki Potato Salad - it was fantastic, I really recommend the recipe! | 4. It is beautiful views like this out across the fields to the ocean that make me glad I live in the countryside. You don't get to see views like this in London. | 5. Enjoying the sunshine on the beach down at Sandwich bay. | 6. The old telephone box in one of the local villages has been turned into a bring and buy bookshop by the villagers - how adorable is that?


For those of you who don't know, I review books over at wonderful girly book blog Judging Covers, and this week my review of Sonia Purnell's book 'Just Boris' is up, in case you wanted to know more about London's hilarious mayor, and I have reviewed an amazing novel Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs too!


What have you been enjoying this week? 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Guilty Pleasure: "They're Not Sweets, They're Candy"

I have one massive guilty pleasure, and as long time readers will know while I usually prefer savoury to sweet, I have a very large, sweet and gooey partition of my heart reserved for American candy. Not their candy chocolate, that stuff is awful, but the super sweet, super sugary, obnoxiously flavoured and coloured sweets you get in gas stations and drug stores. When the team at Cybercandy offered to send me a few things to try to celebrate the launch of their blog, I started jumping up and down with excitement, and that was before I had ingested all the sugar in this spread I put together with the bits from the Cybercandy team and stuff from my own stash I keep in an old Glossybox at my parents house.
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I remember the first evening my friends took me into the Cybercandy store in London and apparently my jaw was down to the floor - it seemed like heaven (it is pretty easy to find, it is next to SNOG frozen yogurt). However, aside from being a great site where you can order your favourite American and Aussie candy without paying stupid costs I think I have to give it massive kudos for being somewhere you can buy real, proper American Mountain Dew soda. The British stuff, frankly is vile in comparison, and every time I forget it is not as nice and I buy a bottle I get disappointed.  

Original Jolly Rancher hard candies (Grape, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, Cherry and Apple, though I can't stand the Cherry and Apple versions) were my first ever introduction to American candy. I was 11 years old, away at boarding school and an American girl in my dormitory had a bag and I fell in love. That is where my candy love affair started, and if you have never tried one order a pack and suck your heart out! 

Wonka Neon Nerds. Everyone else who is British and in the 17-22 age bracket, don't you remember when we were kids there was this whole slew of branded sweets like Harry Potter Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (though, I still long for the strawberry fondant filled Liquorice Wands) and Willie Wonka's Everlasting Gobstoppers and Neon Nerds? Nerds vanished from our shelves (though you can now get them places like Cybercandy and Selfridges), so when I touched down in San Francisco last year I was over the moon to find out you could buy whole boxes of the little candy pieces. 
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The candies I'd never tried before that Cybercandy sent me were Cotton Candy flavoured Pop Rocks and Sour Patch Kids. Now, I'm a massive fan of the Strawberry flavoured Pop Rocks that are common place here in England. This is one thing I'm not sure about in this post, because while I can see why they call the flavour Cotton Candy, I don't think it is that accurate, and not nearly as nice as the Strawberry flavour. On the other hand, Sour Patch Kids where something I'd been planning on trying while I was in the US and did not get around to but I actually love. Think very, but not too overpoweringly sour, sugar coated gummy bears, 
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Finally, mixed in with the Jolly Ranchers there are midget sized Tootsie Rolls, another boarding school discovery from one of the American kids, this time in the Student Social Centre where we had a tuck shop, television, table tennis and a couple of snooker tables when I was 14. They are dark, slightly caramel slightly chocolately chews that while they make you very thirsty, I have simply never been able to get enough of! 


What are your absolutely guilty pleasures? 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

What's In My Handbag: Chloe Evening Bag Edition

It has been a while since I have done a 'What's In My Handbag' post, so I thought I'd show you what I keep in my lovely See by Chloe evening bag that I received as part of my collaboration with Vestiaire Collective a few months ago. Now, before I got this bag I used to not have an evening bag, as I needed something big enough to carry my beast of a DSLR camera in, and clutches really did not cut the mustard! My camera just about fits in this bag, but only if I carry the bare essentials with me. 
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The biggest non camera item I usually have in my evening bag is my wallet, which means this post is the perfect excuse to show off my brand new something of a leaving gift after a over 6 month collaboration with online shoe site Spartoo: this beautiful black Vivianne Westwood wallet which is currently in their sale for only £108.50! When it came I loved how it smelt of beautiful new leather, and that is has so many more card slots than my old oil cloth one from Cath Kidston. 
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As when I am out with this bag my options are limited, aside from my Blackberry which I have not pictured here and my car keys if I am driving, I carry the most bare essentials of makeup and beauty touch ups. I went through a really bad phase of breaking handbag mirrors, but this Clinique one with a leather cover has been with me for years, and I don't know what I would do without this super dinky little hairbrush the guys at Batiste gave me when I moved to London last September. 

As for makeup, most of my touch ups can be done with the golden magic wand that is Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Eclat. Aside from that, because most of the time when I go out in the evenings I am eating and drinking I go for my nice neutral lipstick and lipgloss combination; M.A.C's Satin lipstick in 'Brave' and Clinique's Superbalm lipgloss in '09 Current'. Finally, my hands get really dry every time they are washed, so a handbag sized tube of L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream is a must have for me!


What do you like to carry with you when you go out in the evenings? 

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

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

French Photo Diary #5: Food Edition

For the final post about my trip to France I thought I'd put together a round up of my favourite thing about going there: the food. While I have already shared my recipe for my favourite French Hot King Prawns In Garlic Butter with you, and one of my favourite French seafood restaurants Le Cancalais, I thought I'd put together some snaps of all the other lovely things I got to tuck into!
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Monday, 2 July 2012

Summer Print Dresses at Oasis

There are some trends, like all white, or print jeans which I absolutely love and think look amazing, but I know that they look absolutely awful on me, because they either don't suit my body shape or they really don't suit my personality. One of the current trends I've fallen in love with and wish I could wear, but I know it is a really bad idea if I did, is bright and bold prints. On tall girls, they look fantastic. The nearest I have safely managed to get to prints this Summer is my cream palm print dress that I don't know what I would do without. 
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I was looking at some of the Oasis dresses at House of Fraser recently, and as they have some amazing styles that are great value for money now that most of them are in the sale, I really wish I could consider wearing some of them...
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My favourite from this much is this first mirrored print dress which I think is gorgeous, but as both white based and print heavy I know would be a total disaster on me. If anyone has it and has blogged about it, I'd love you to link me to the post so I can see how you styled it, though! Another favourite of mine is the hummingbird print, which I think would look amazing on someone tall, blond and with an overflowing and bubbly personality!


Which Summer trend do you absolutely love but you just know that you would not be able to pull off?

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

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Outfit Post: Summer Casual

I don't know what it is, but from my very first trip to Brittany about four years ago I discovered the amazing quality of the light there that just made everything seem brighter, more beautiful and I really understood why for centuries first artists and sculptors, now photographers and every other type of creative mind flocks to the region. I take some of my best photos there, do my best drawings and some of my best writing there; and with these casual snapshots my mother took of me outside our house on the first day of our holiday I can see that the same magic stands true on the colours and light of my outfit photos too. 
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Sunglasses: c/o Breo, Shirt: c/o Volcom, Necklace: Tiffany & Co., Dress: H&M, Watch: Citizen, Nail Polish: Essie 'Navigate Her' 

Running PR at a luxury holiday cottage company and interacting with almost every single guest that comes to stay, while I'm not really a self catering person myself, preferring to explore different hotels or cruise ships on my travels, I know that the first thing most people do when they arrive is head to the supermarket for supplies. While the French house is my own home as we are not there all the time, we only have dry supplies and still need to, on the first day head off to the big supermarket in Combourg, the nearest town. For this, as well as the Volcom shirt I practically have been living in since they sent it to me I chose this simple Summer jersey dress from H&M last Summer which I really wish they had reproduced in different colours this year as they do with some of their other seasonal favourites as it is such a flattering shape, has lasted a stupid number of washes and was an incredible steal at about £16.
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Something I really noticed on my walk around the deserted country lanes surrounding our rural home that I had not before, are the stunning pink purple wild foxgloves that have sprouted up in all the banks and hedgerows adding wonderful bursts of colour in the otherwise usually green landscape. Not to say the landscape is boring by any means.  
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One of my favourite views on our usual route is this haunting road through the trees before we hit open fields which is just as poignant in Summer as it was a couple of Winters ago when I first pictured it.


I always find I am at my most relaxed when I am in Brittany, any time of the year. Is there anywhere you like to go to simply just escape from life for a few days?