Friday, 28 September 2012

Weekly Love: Week 118

This week has been all about field trips and beginnings. I went up to Hollywood and down to Venice, and I attended my first ever class at an American university - it was so very different from the experience of attending classes in London, but I really enjoyed it. I've also been participating in something very exciting and oh so American, which I'm going to tell you all about when it is over! I also had my first Diddy Reese experience on Wednesday night - hands down the best ice cream cookie sandwich ever.
1. Fresh pressed Watermelon Juice in a Mason Jar from Local 1205 on Abbot Kinney in Venice. | 2. Visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame. | 3. Absolutely delicious seafood ramen at Ajisen Ramen at Westfield, Century City. The scallops were pre cooked in lemongrass which gave them the most incredible flavour. | 4. Sunset at Venice Beach. | 5.  All the recipes I've marked to make this year out of the Joy The Baker cookbook. Good god Joy is going to be to blame for making me very, very fat... | 6. Things from Kate Spade come in such pretty packages.

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

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Madewell: My New Favourite American Store

The first time I visited Westfield in Century City, I know the store I was supposed to get the most excited about was J Crew. And I did, I got really over the top excited about it, but that was until I turned the corner and stepped into a Madewell store for the first time. I will forever associate their clothing with the blog Sincerely, Jules (not a bad thing by any standards), but I had no idea how 'me' the store was until I visited - I honestly think I have found my favourite place to shop on the American High Street. Basics in every style and colour you could imagine, cute stylish dresses, lovely shoes and awesome accessories all over the shop.
Striped Transmission Tee: $49.50, Noir Components Bracelet: $160, Braided Friendship Bracelet: $10, Honeycomb Sweater: $79.50, Washed Silk Boyshirt: $115, Solid Silk Boyshirt: $110, The Biker Boot: $248, H by Hudson Horrigan Boots: $285, Scallop Lace Top: $118, Flowerlace Shorts: $88 

I really want to try their jeans, but before anything else when I have a free afternoon I'm going to head over there for a serious shirt shop. I never used to wear button down shirts, but after I fell in love with the one Volcom gave me I resolved to wear a few more of them, and Madewell is shirt heaven with so many different colours and fabrics. I think you can tell from these graphics I'm very excited about all of the purple (my favourite colour) they have in store at the moment. I tried on this chunky purple honeycomb sweater in store and fell in love - once I'm actually convinced it gets cold enough for things like that in Los Angeles (I'm still not entirely convinced!) I might go back and get it. Also, I really want to try on this black lace top, and these black lace shorts. I've never really wanted to wear lace before, but I think I might have fallen in love with both!
Tailored Mini Dress: $148, Attic and Barn 'Erin' Skirt: $221, Wool Tap Shorts: $98, Softshade Sweatshirt Dress: $118, Countrystripe Songbird Dress: $109.50, Monograph Sweater-skirt: $68

While I may gaze longingly at this purple dress every time I go in the store (it also comes in a wonderful bright blue), what I think I really need is one of these brown skirts for every day (second from the left and first on the right). I also think I need to shrink down and carry around in my handbag whoever was the hair stylist for this particular look book shoot - just look at those amazing braids - I wish I could do my hair like that! 

Unfortunately at the moment they only ship to the US, Canada and Japan, but they're hoping to expand to international shipping soon. They have stores all over the US though, so if you're coming here on holiday any time soon, I'd pencil in a visit - I promise you won't be disappointed! 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: Local 1205, Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Before heading down to Venice Beach, I decided to check out some of the artsy boutiques and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and ended up having lunch at the gourmet deli meets cafe Local 1205. It did look pretty awesome from the outside, but I was really on the hunt for the place people were getting the Mason Jars full of fresh juice people were drinking walking down the street. Everything tastes better in a Mason Jar.
Since I first had it at Taqueria in Notting Hill, I've loved freshly pressed watermelon juice, and I'm really happy that there are now lots of places I can get it her in Los Angeles. However, this has to be the best I've had so far, light, cool, fresh and delicious. I told you that everything tastes better when it is served in a Mason Jar. 
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I ordered open topped bagels with smoked salmon, tomatos, onions and capers. I recommend you order the same if you go for lunch. It cost a bit more, but I had it made with Scottish smoked salmon which I prefer.
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Local 1205 sells lots of different foods from around the world that are hard to find, I found it funny that they had cans of French chestnut paste for $10 that I could get for about 1,50€ in the French supermarket! Also, they have an amazing deli counter with good cuts of meat and cured meats from deli's in New York. 
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Next time I'm in the area and I'm not going home too late, I'll pick up some fresh bread, some cold meats and a couple of jars of juice to take home with me - that olive oil also looks pretty fantastic, so did their cakes. 

Angeleno's, where else can I go for foodstuffs and drinks in Mason Jars? And are their any London spots that are Mason-centric that I don't know about I can try when I return next year? 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Weekly Love: Week 117

This week I completed my UCLA orientation, and I'm really excited for everything to kick off next week. Aside from that, my week has been pretty chilled, and I've been enjoying the free days to really explore Los Angeles, including Santa Monica Beach which was just incredible. I've also unintentionally been becoming rather acquainted with the various restaurants, cafes, diners and take away places in my neighbourhood - our oven is broken so I have not been able to make myself anything hot to eat (the best so far has been In-N-Out!)
1. Lookout 15 on Santa Monica Beach. | 2. Three punnets of delicious strawberries for $5 at Westwood  Village Farmers Market (every Thursday afternoon on Broxton Avenue) | 3. An extra special Sunday morning breakfast of prosciutto wrapped melon served with iced tangerine juice from Trader Joe's. | 4. If you live somewhere hot you need Victoria's Secret's Makeup Primer & Setting Spray in your life. | 5. American diner food, breakfast for dinner at Denny's in Westwood. | 6. The Converse store on 3rd Street (Santa Monica)'s window.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm planning on trying to master the Los Angeles metro and head down to Venice Beach.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Welcome To Santa Monica Beach

I can't believe I waited a whole 12 days before heading down to the ocean. To be honest, I was pretty apprehensive about taking the bus (I find it confusing enough in London, and frankly the LA bus system defies all logic. If anyone is familiar with the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, please help me!), but a whole group of us decided to head down to, in my opinion what should be the first beach any first time visitor to LA should see first, Santa Monica Beach. If you fancy making a drinking game out of this post, do a shot every time one of my photos looks at all familiar, and don't blame me for how drunk you'll be by the end!
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No words can really describe how beautiful the beach is. The sand is hot under your toes, and you can see right around the Los Angeles coast. The sea is quite cold, but you'd want it to be - and besides, the sun dries you a few minutes after you get out so it is not the end of the world if you forget your towel.
The world famous ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier. Did you know that it is solar powered?
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Muscle Beach. This one at Santa Monica is the original, but you'll also find one at Venice Beach.
I know this is not quite the outfit post everyone has been requesting (I promise I'll post one soon!), but a little something to show off how tanned I am - this is without any sunbathing, and I think I have not been this brown before in my entire life! Yes, it is an effort to remember to use SPF on both my face and body every day, but the LA sun is pretty wonderful! My top is from Forever 21, wine shorts from J Crew (I love them and will feature them soon!) and the sunglasses were a gift from the team at Breo.
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There is also amazing shopping on 3rd Street (you know me, I just could not resist!) so I'd really recommend you take the day out, or book a hotel near here so you can enjoy the beach every afternoon after exploring the rest of LA in the morning. I think later in the week I'm going to head to Venice Beach, then Hollywood after that; I want to cover all the bases before classes start! 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Weekly Love: Week 116

Greetings from Los Angeles! Today marks the end of my first week in California, and I must say it has been pretty amazing. Aside from settling into my new apartment with my amazing roommates, getting to know my neighbourhood and getting myseld orientated with the UCLA campus I've taken day trips to my local mall (we all know how much I love to shop!), Beverly Hills and another local neighbourhood called Brentwood which has some great food places and lovely indie stores. Also, I just wanted to thank all of you for your messages of good luck for LA and UCLA, and all your lovely messages hoping that I've been enjoying it so far - I cannot begin to describe how much it all means to me to hear from you guys, so thank you so much!
1. Look familiar? This is where I went on Tuesday. | 2. I adore this cute bear honey bottle from Trader Joe's. It really wins the awesome American find of the week award! | 3. If your name is Rachel Phipps all roads lead to Westfield. My new local is the one in Century City. I may have made a sneaky J Crew purchase there. | 4. I visited one of the Sugar Paper, Los Angeles stores - everything was so pretty! I picked up some cards for friends and family, and I took lots of photos in store - you can see them in this blog post here. | 5. Obviously I had to check out Rodeo Drive when I was in Beverly Hills. Think Bond Street where everyone is tanned and with a lot of palm trees! | 6. The totally delicious Kosher Hot Dog with Red Onion and Sweet Relish with Sweet Potato Fries and Chipotle Mayo on the side from Barney's Gourmet Burgers at Brentwood Country Mart - an amazing shopping area with some pretty cute indie stores, including the other outpost of Sugar Paper.

I'm going to try to do this a bit differently this season, and separate my picks from the Fashion Week coverage into a separate section of 'Weekly Love' - here are my picks from New York Fashion Week, expect dispaches about London and Paris to follow (I'm never really that bothered with Milan...)

What you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I think my weekend is going to be pretty chilled, as my orientation starts early Monday! 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Store Visit: Sugar Paper, Los Angeles

Back in July when I first featured the beautiful stationary created and carried by Sugar Paper, Los Angeles I just knew that their store had to be one of my first stop off points in the city to pick up some pretty notecards to send letters off to my friends and family back in England. I visited the store on the other side of Santa Monica Boulevard to Westfield, Century City, but aside from their online shop, they also have a store at Brentwood Country Mart (somewhere, incidentally, I'm also planning to visit soon!)
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As it is on the way to Westfield for me, and as everyone who knows me knows that if you're me all roads lead to Westfield, I'll be stopping by here a lot - next, I think I might treat myself to a lovely pink and gold set of initial note cards and maybe a little something to throw in with my best friends birthday package. 
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As well as note cards, they sell a whole host of lovely little home trinkets and gifts. My favourites in the store included their collection of lovely books on entertaining, design, food and cocktails (Emily Schuman's Cupcakes & Cashmere is going to be in stock soon they told me), and their selections of French Compagne De Provance Rose products. While they don't have my personal favourite, the bubble bath, they do have hand cream and hand soap pumps, and scented candles - I also might be back for the hand cream for my dresser... 
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While Sugar Paper cards are pretty awesome, they do stock some others from some equally as awesome artisan print labels, I picked up specials from Rifle Paper Co. and Mr Boddington's Studio.
This is one of the cards I picked up in store - I really love the patterned envelope inserts on a lot of Sugar Paper cards, I've seen nothing like it in stores in London (but if you know of somewhere, please let me know!)

I am a little obsessed with stationary stores to be honest, so are there any other gems like this I need to know about in Los Angeles (or in London)? 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: Sprinkles Cupcakes, Beverly Hills

Maybe with the exception of macarons, I love nothing more than a good cupcake, so obviously one of the first pilgrimages I had to make was to the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes bakery in Beverly Hills. For those of you who don't know, Sprinkles in Beverly Hills was the worlds first cupcake bakery, so it is a pretty special place to say the least, and I think it made a wonderful first foodie-come-cake addict stop for me in the city.
I went for the strawberry cupcake, because my roommate recommended it and otherwise I'd never be able to make my mind up! I think the next time I visit a chocolate one, or a lemon coconut one has to be had...
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I think their especially branded mineral water is kind of cute - I really did not want to throw the bottle away!
This is something rather special just outside the store, between the cupcake and ice cream sections. This is the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes Cupcake ATM. It is open 24 hours, and you can get served Sprinkles Cupcakes out of it. You can even get special dog cupcakes to feed your four legged companion. I am simply lost for words.
Finally, just around the corner from Sprinkles, does this visual look at all familiar to you? That is the odd thing about LA, you feel like you've been loads of places before when in fact you've never visited, because you see it in films or on TV so much, especially when you stumble across a generic shot like this one!

Angelenos, where else do I need to visit to get my cupcake fix in the city? I think my next foodie fix has to be Bottega Louie - I've heard so much about their macarons and pastries! 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

10 Things I Love So Far About Living In Los Angeles

So, while it is Monday morning in the UK, it is still Sunday night here for me in Los Angeles, my wonderful new city I have just spent the first 24 hours in! After my new roommates collected me from LAX, we ordered in pizza and I collapsed in bed, I spent the weekend exploring my new neighbourhood, shopping for essentials and soaking up some sunshine! I'm almost settled, so expect to see a lot more LA posts soon!
1. My new campus, UCLA is quite literally out of almost every single movie or TV show made in America about college life, ever. Also, the buildings are just beautiful - it is so empty at the moment as it is Sunday and school has not really started yet, but I can't wait for it to fill with people, and for my classes to start. 

2. I can get UCLA branded sweatpants/ trackies in Victorias Secret. I have one around the block from me, and how nice the store is just blows the monstrosities that are the London stores out of the water. I will be back for more work out clothes once I've explored my apartment buildings gym and got into a routine.
palms 3. There are palm trees everywhere. They may be imported, but it does not stop them being awesome and putting a massive smile on my face.

4. It is very difficult to get lost here, because all the roads are blocks - everything is square, and so many of the street names are famous.

5. The weather is Summer holiday style. Yesterday (my earlier today) it reached a high of 88/70. That is basically the hottest day of the year in England, and it is normal here.
6. I live within walking distance of several Starbucks so I can get one every morning when I leave my apartment. Also, it is so cheap. If a drink costs £2.75 in England, it costs $2.75 here. 

7. I am also starting to get a tan, without even trying. However, I do need to remember to put SPF on my face every morning now! 

8. My iPhone, a screen protector, Apple Care and my first months phone bill cost less than just a UK iPhone.  
9. My building reminds me of the hotel I stayed in in Barbados one Summer. This can only be a good thing.

10. Everyone is so friendly. At the checkout at the store people ask you how your day has been, people start conversations with you while you're waiting to cross the road. Once you get over how different it is compared to England, it is actually really nice and really improves your day.

As you can probably notice these are Instagram photos, I now have an iPhone 4S and I have lots of fun apps - smartphone users, you can now follow me on Instagram (@missrachelphipps) and on Pose (missrachelphipps)!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Weekly Love: Week 115

This is the last blog post for a very long time which will reach you from England. In about and hour or two I'll be heading off to London Heathrow Airport to catch an afternoon flight to Los Angeles International Airport. If anyone has any late lunch recommendations at terminal one please leave them in the comments - they'll go to my Blackberry! Here are the last few snapshots from the last two weeks in England, which have included dinners with friends and family (I think I'm still full from the Thai meal my parents, my two best friends and I gorged ourselves on on Tuesday night!), and one last trip to London. See you all on the Golden Coast!
1. Yayoi Kusama statues in the window of Louis Vuitton in Selfridges. | 2. Another bunch of fresh cut flowers from the Pilgrims Nook gardens. | 3. Visiting The Goods Shed, a fantastic indoor farmers, market and food hall with a wonderful restaurant on the upper level, in Canterbury.  | 4. A starter of pan fried pigeon breast on a bed of lentils with chorizo at The Goods Shed. | 5. Pretty tie dye Keds with leather laces at their showroom in London, part of their upcoming collaboration with Urban Outfitters, coming soon in the UK and already in UO stores in the US. | 6. The awesome, Daily Prophet like monthly newsletter at The Goods Shed featuring wonderful articles and essays all about food.

I did not really get enough photos for a 'Places To Eat In London' post, but I just had to tell you about an incredible burger I had just North of Oxford Street last week. Tommi's Burger Joint is a tiny little goldmine in a fantastic location to either grab a lunch, or go for dinner if you'd been planning to at at Meat Liquor (just around the corner) but really could not be bothered with the massive queue. Just grap a table and grab a menu sheet, fill it out and take it up to the counter at the end. There is not a lot of choice, but everything on the menu is pretty fantastic anyway. If I were you, I'd take advantage of their £8.95 burger, crispy and golden French Fries and can of soda you get yourself from the fridge. It was the best burger I'd had in a very, very long time. The bun was lovely and glossy, and the burger was perfectly cooked, brown on the outside, but still a mouth watering pink on the inside. Inside your burger you also get lettuce, and the perfectly balanced combination of ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard. Londoners, if you don't get yourself down to try one of these beauties, you're seriously missing out!

Finally, I'm soon going to be launching a monthly newsletter, obviously with snippets of some articles you may have missed, but with a bit of exclusive content as well. Follow this link to subscribe so you don't miss out!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what plans have you got for the weekend? (Mine include opening an American bank account, settling into my new apartment, buying an iPhone and exploring my neighbourhood in Los Angeles!)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

What's In My Handbag: LHR to LAX Edition

Since people seem to love 'What's In My Handbag' posts, what was originally going to be my 'What To Pack For A Long Haul Flight' post has become simply a preview of what I have packed in my Hobbs handbag which is acting as my carry on for my flight to LA tomorrow (and anyway, I covered most of it in my post on 'How To Pack For And Survive A Long Haul Flight'. I know usually people take bigger bags, but I need to think about what I will need for the whole 10 months, and not pictured but inside the bag I'm going to take a tote bag for my laptop once I've through security, as I'm only allowed to carry it in its foam sleeve as it counts as a 'personal item' apparently. Also, the fact this was supposed to be a guidance post initially explains why there is an iPad in the photo. I wish it was mine and it was coming on the flight with me, but unfortunatly it belongs to my Mother...
While I won't have the iPad, as far as entertainment goes I've been stockpiling so I've got the two most recent issues of my two favourite magazines to read up in the air; Tatler and Nylon. Also, my iPod Nano, as well as all my usual music loaded with a brand new chapter of Gala Darling's Love & Sequins I have not yet listened to, and about 5 or size each back episodes of The Joy The Baker Podcast and The High Tea Cast I've been saving. I also love to catch up on movies while I'm flying, (on the way to San Francisco last year I made my way through Black Swan, The Social Network and Burlesque) as I rarely go to the cinema, so I've treated myself to this lovely pair of noise cancelling earphones from Sony

Beauty wise, my hairbrush as I've actually got to look recognisable at the other end when my new roommate picks me up from the airport. Then a whole load of mini beauty products because I've never had skin so bad as the last time I flew long haul without moisturiser. We have, an EOS sphere lip balm to help combat aeroplane chapped lips, Clinique's All About Eyes Serum roll on, Clinique All About Eyes eye cream, Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Eclat to bring me to life at the other end, and decanted into airport security friendly stackable jars I have Caudalie's SOS Serum, my favourite intense moisturiser, L'Occitane's Ultra Rich Shea Butter Face Cream and a little bit of Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream which basically solves every problem under the sun. 

Miscellaneous I have a pair of sunglasses as I always wear sunglasses traveling as they hide how tired you are, my Moleskine notebook and a pen for mid flight inspiration (I planned the blog redesign before the most recent one on the way back from the trip to San Francisco I keep banging on about), and a little taste of Britain: Marks & Spencer's Percy Pigs. Also my passport containing my American visa - better not forget that!

What is an absolute must for you to carry in your bag when you're traveling? 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Project LA: My New Column For The High Tea Cast

A little service announcement post today, to let you all know that this year while I'm living in Los Angeles I'm going to be writing a monthly column over at the amazingly funny and informative High Tea Cast website about my American adventures. My columns will be going up the end of every month, so make sure you subscribe to The High Tea Cast (they also have a hilarious podcast I love listening to on the train and I've been stockpiling for my flight out) so you don't miss a single one, or any of their other awesome columns and features. 


Usually I'll post a link to my monthly columns in 'Weekly Love', but just to give you a little taster, I've copied my first instalment which went up last week where I chat about some of the more daunting and amusing processes I've had to go though here in the UK to prepare for my move, including finding an apartment online and applying for a Student Visa at the American Embassy in London!

I think now would be a good moment to introduce myself. I’m Rachel. I’m almost 20, and I’m a lifestyle writer pretending to be a university student, because study abroad is a pretty good excuse to up sticks and move half way around the world for 10 months. My destination? Los Angeles, California. A city I have never visited, in a country I’ve only visited briefly skiing with friends. I’ll be keeping you all updated with my LA adventures here at The High Tea Cast - thanks so much to Sam and Lea for having me, and to all of you in advance for putting up with my ramblings! 
My flight has not even left Terminal 1 of Heathrow yet and I’ve encountered quite a few life issues that have been both irritating and amusing in equal measure (okay, irritating for me as I’m the one who has to deal with them, and amusing for you all as you’re the ones who get the laugh at me!).  
First things first, finding somewhere to live. I am from England, I have just spent 6 months living in London. Therefore, when someone says ‘Craigslist’ to me the first thing that springs to mind are ‘Craigslist Killers’, dodgy personals ads and that hoarder food person found in a sublet in New York, someone blogged about and the post went viral (you know the one, guy had made a man out of stuffing old food into clothes and left him in the apartment?)  
Anyway, so you can imagine how freaked out I was when the only suggestion UCLA (my new university) had for where I could find off campus housing in the city was Craigslist, right? It was only a slight comfort to me when my mother pointed out how very ‘New Girl’ the whole finding roommates in Los Angeles on Craigslist thing is. I did talk to some lovely people in my hunt for a home, but as you would expect, I did encounter some curiosities; emails that were hilariously suggestive and some that were downright disgusting. A pair of guys only wanted me to live with them if they were single. Others offered me free rent in turn for ‘favours’ around the house (you can imagine what sort), and others attached photographs, not of their apartments, but of themselves. Way to put a girl off guys.  
Also, a slight cultural note. I will be sharing a bedroom. I went to a boarding school for 10 years, so this really does not phase me, but American students share bedrooms with each other to cut costs, guys and girls well into their early twenties. Can you imagine British students doing and being comfortable with that? I found it practically impossible to find an apartment with my own room, so I gave up in the end.  
Soon after securing my apartment, I had to obtain my American Visa. It is currently stuck onto one of the first pages of my passport, and I guard it like a mother bear does her new born cub as I basically had to do Olympic standard gymnastics through flaming hoops to get it. The amount of lectures I attended at my university in London about filling in the application forms, they’d made me so terrified of making the tiniest mistake in imputing my details (they told us that our application would get rejected and we might not get a visa, this can’t really be the case, right?) I’m pretty sure I had a mini nervous breakdown sitting in front of the computer screen. My father did look rather worried about me at one point. Also, the website you use for the application is written in American, so they make you freak out about making a mistake, but on some sections there is no right answer in answer to their questions!  
When you get your appointment to interview at the American Embassy in London, you have to reschedule if you have even the tiniest cut on your fingers, as first things first after you’ve been through security (if you’re carrying any drinks, they make you drink them to show it is not bomb fluid or something, but would a terrorist bomber really mind about drinking noxious fluids to get them through?) they take your fingerprints.  
The thing that really made me laugh about the interview, though, is that they make you fill out all this paperwork, present yourself at the embassy and keep you in a holding room for about 5 hours (without electronic devises, seeing the average student trying to survive that did amuse me somewhat) for an interview that only took about a minute. I was asked my full name, why I wanted a J1 visa to study in the United States (my answer: to spend a year abroad at UCLA) and to be told to have a good trip!  
The Department of Homeland Security I think have used every means possible to ensure I’m not a terrorist, a serial killer or even a prostitute, but I have a question about the people I am going to encounter out there (or, with my future roomates excluded, if I were to assume for the sake of argument that everyone in America is like everyone I’ve met on the internet or who works for the American government): please tell me you’re not a Craigslist killer, because you’ve already given me enough to worry about!

I'd love to hear what you all think; this is one type of writing I have not really had published before, but I had a lot of fun writing this and I can't wait to write my September column from Los Angeles! 

Monday, 3 September 2012

How To Make Your University Room Your Own

When you're away from home, it is nice to have your own personal space, something I have learnt at university and after 8 years at boarding school. So, I've teamed up with Joules to put togehter a handy guide to everything I have learnt over the last 9 years to help you settle in, either if you're heading off to university to live in halls for the first time, off to kit out a room at boarding school or moving into your own room in a new flat with either friends or strangers. I'm moving into a new apartment in Los Angeles at the end of the week, and as Joules now ship to the USA I might treat myself to one or two bits so I can really settle in! 

I have always found that the most important thing is having nice bedding, it has always been the thing I have spent the most on. Your bed will probably be the focal point of your room, and it will set the tone and theme of the whole room. Regardless of if you have a plain or patterned duvet, I'm big on having lots of different print and colour cushions and pillows on the bed to really liven them all up - they also help make it extra comfy! At home I have plain white sheets and patterned pillows, but at uni last year and in my last year at boarding school I have pale pastel purple and white patterned sheets with bright, mixed pillows in pinks and blues. Actually, I wish I had known that you could shop bed linen at Joules before I did my mail order for stuff for my new apartment, there are some pretty awesome designs in this collection I need in my life!
Yellow Horse Cushion: £40, Blue Throw Rug: £85, Floral Bird Print Cushion: £40, Yellow Throw Rug: £85, Blue Striped Pillow: £15, Tartan Throw Rug: £85

In most cases in a dorm room your bed will also double as your sofa and reading area, and even in a shared flat with your own living room or common area it is always nice to have a personal space to relax and read/ watch tv (usually on your laptop) to yourself! Usually, this ends up being your bed so whenever anyone asks me what is the one thing I would be lost without at uni I would say my cushions I litter my bed with to turn it into a sofa. Also, a lovely throw rug or artisan blanket looks amazing and homely on the end of your bed, and is amazing to snuggle up in during the Winter months after a long day and you just want to kick back and relax!
Pink Candy Striped Towel from £15, Blue Striped Towel from £10, Multi Coloured Stripe Towel from £10Horse Print Towel from £10

I was lucky my room in halls had an en suite bathroom last year, but at boarding school I had plenty of experience using communal bathrooms and shower rooms! Your towels basically become a fashion accessory, so the brighter the better! Also, I like them to match the theme of my bed. Joules home section is relatively new, and I really hope they start making bathrobes - I find they are the very best thing for comunal living. Also, as someone who has walked on a communal bathroom floor, after someone else has showered, I really recommend you pack a pair of flip flops to wear and and out of the shower. Also, it is an unfortunate fact of life if you use expensive shower products in a communal shower someone else will use them, so I recommend a plastic basket or something to carry your things too and from the shower room.

Finally, your desk. If you are a student especially, while you may not really want to think about it, you are actually there for work after all! I found my paperwork got everywhere, so storage drawers and boxes are a must to keep track of everything, unless you won't be able to find any of your notes when it gets around to exam time and you need to study. Also, notebooks are important, one nice one to take to class to write down assignments, and a little desk one that I find was indispensable for writing weekly supermarket shopping lists!

What are your hints and tips for settling into a new room, flat or apartment? What do you think are must haves to take to university with you?

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