Monday, 25 February 2013

Student Suppers: The Perfect Tomato Pasta Sauce

For this recipe, I have to thank the world of food blogging. I read a lot about food, and I think a lot about the food I am eating when I'm out trying a new restaurant  or even enjoying a good hearty meal at my or my best friends local pub, both of which I do rather a lot. However, it was only after reading recipes that involved a tomato sauce on several food blogs (I think Joy The Baker, Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks have to be thanked for knocking this knowledge into me) I realised what I had to do to make my quick tomato pasta sauce made from a tin of chopped tomatoes when I was in a rush, or when it was not Summertime at Pilgrims Nook and there was no homegrown tomato glut for me to cook from, to make it taste like I was dining out in an Italian restaurant  and the quick step was so easy I was so angry with myself for not thinking of it before.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Weekly Love: Week 128

Yes, I am fully aware that the only picture in the first six shots in this post that is not of or related to food is a shot of Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding beach. I'm also aware that if I am to be perfectly honest with you all that shot is sort of about food too. I used my (I think it is 2 miles) walk from Venice boardwalk to Santa Monica Pier (it is one of my favourites to do on a hot weekend) to think about up coming food related projects for the blog, and other ideas for more ways I can squeeze food into my content. When I started this blog four years ago there was no doubt it was a fashion blog, and while I still love to ohh and ahh at pretty dresses, cover fashion week and put together outfit posts. I am fully aware that I now write a food blog, just with the other stuff thrown in, rather than the food being thrown into a fashion blog as has become the new fashion. I'm happy I decided to move to this incredible city for the last few months of my teens and the first few of my twenties as it has helped me realise what direction I want to go in next. 
1. Santa Monica Pier on a gloriously warm and sunny Friday afternoon. I love you, Los Angeles. | 2. Upholding my Shrove Tuesday tradition with real pancakes (crepes) for lunch, not those things America *thinks* are pancakes served with wedges of fresh lemon (it is a crime to put the horrible bottled Jiff stuff that should ever have been invented on pancakes) and granulated sugar. As I'm apparently a grown up now (who knew?) this year the sugar had a delicious addition of fresh thyme leaves, the idea courtesy of Emma at Poires au Chocolat, one of my favourite British food blogs. | 3. On Saturday in Beverly Hills I had one of the best culinary experiences of my entire life, and all I actually ate was a spoonful of (mouthwatering) scrambled eggs. French, LA based chef Ludo Lefebvre (yes, the one from The Taste but to only credit him with that is frankly an insult) who is the guy we have to thank for pop up restaurants gave a mini cooking lesson to the 30 or so of us at his book signing for his new book, Ludo Bites. You only need to read a couple of recipes in it to know the man is a genius, but to be able to have someone so creative with food, so skilled and so highly trained put together a couple of dishes in front of you, and to be able to ask questions is a simply magical experience. | 4. Loving how it is now hot enough here to have lunch and work out on the balcony. | 5. Weeknight recipe experimentation. The poached cod and tomatoes were a bust, but look out for a recipe for the greens soon! | 6. Lemon sorbet from Joan's on Third. It is pretty great, but not as good as my mothers homemade version!

A little bit of content from over at The Glossy Guide: I get a lot of questions about my skincare routine, so last week I put together a full and comprehensive post over there about what products I like to use every day, or once or twice a week. Also, I know quite a lot of you enjoy my roundups from the London Press days so you can see what collections are going to be on the British high street in the coming season. While I can hardly attend and put these together from Los Angeles, my partner in crime Kathryn has done a little roundup of her picks from the coming shopping season which I recommend you all head over and check out instead!

Returning to food for a moment, I think it must be something to do with my age that I'd never actually read a book by iconic British culinary writer Nigel Slater. I've been reading Eating For England, a wonderful diary style book on our great nations various food habits and fancies and his wonderful prose, seductive way of writing about food and hilarious anecdotes have me absolutely entranced. I've reviewed the book over at Judging Covers, and I have another of his books; Toast lined up to read next.
7. If you're in LA and you need a 'trim' I'd recommend Amanda at Trim on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice; she worked her magic on her hair and it is now in much better condition than it was before! | 8.  Feeding my TLT Food addiction with takeaway super spicy chicken wings (they were so hot they sensitised the inside of my mouth!) and bacon/ pork sliders. | 9. While most bloggers have their heels and their handbags, while I don't wear it in outfit posts I thought I'd give you a little snapshot of how I'm dressed most of the time; in the kitchen wearing stripes and a Cath Kidston apron!

Finally, a little peek behind into the total madness that is Team Tea, the wonderful and amazing team behind The High Tea Cast, which I am so honoured and thankful to be a part of. Lots of our more mad ideas come from our team Facebook page (which we honestly mostly use to share amusing cat pictures) and the random conversation snippets that bloom there. A thread that started with us deciding which Hogwarts houses we could have been sorted in if we'd attended Hogwarts somehow ended with my volunteering to write an alternative ending to the Harry Potter books. I must be mad, but here you are! Enjoy (and please don't shoot me!)

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? It is set to be another beautiful weekend here in Los Angeles so I might go for another walk along the beach and hang around the beauty counters in Bloomingdales and Nordstrom on 3rd Street Santa Monica; I'm getting to the end of my Body Shop Bronzer and while I do love it the compact gets very chipped in my makeup bag which has been irritating me!  

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Subscribe To The New Rachel Phipps Newsletter

I've had this in the pipeline for a while now, but tomorrow everyone who has signed up to my new newsletter by following the link in the sidebar, just below the search box will be receiving the very first issue! (There is still time to sign up here!) I'm really excited about this new newsletter; as well as some links to some of my favourite posts on the blog over the month (the newsletter will usually arrive on the last Friday of every month), and sometimes my favourite posts from The Glossy Guide too, there will be exclusive content in each newsletter that has never been shown on either of my blogs. There will be recipes, city features on London, Los Angeles and other places I may happen to visit on my travels, blogging tips and so much more!
This month I've included an interactive map of London listing all of my favourite places to eat, drink and visit, including lots I've never written about on the blog before (be sure to bookmark it, as when I return to the city in the Summer I'll be sure to keep updating it), and my roundup of my favourite shows and collections from London and New York Fashion Weeks - links that I did not include in Weekly Love.

Remember, the other ways you can subscribe to everything going on with the blog is by following me on Twitter and Instagram, liking the blogs page on Facebook, following the blog on Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect or Hello Cotton, or subscribing to the RSS Feed - I think I've got everything covered!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

My 5 Favourite London Shopping Destinations

As so many of you seemed to enjoy my post detailing My 5 Favourite Los Angeles Shopping Destinations, I thought I'd put together a similar post detailing my favourite shopping spots that I used to frequent last year when I was living in my favourite city in the world; London (I really love LA, but I honestly can't wait to get back to London, and my ultimate shopping day trip when I move back to the countryside for a few months before I become a true Londoner again would include all 5 of these destinations!) While there are so many places I love to go and shop at in London, like Harrods and Harvey Nichols (I would go there so much more if it was not a pain to get there on the tube from where I was living), Fortnum's which I really want to go to more in the latter half of this year, and a whole area surrounding Sloane Square I have not scratched the surface of.
1. Selfridges, W1
Image via Luxuo

I often comment that Selfridges is my spiritual home, and there is a story attached to that statement. Though apparently my parents had taken me to Selfridges to see Santa as a small child and I'd been frightened of him, I remember clearly the very first time I visited Selfridges in my teens. It was during my first real trip to London, and I remember wondering why I had never visited somewhere so magical before then. I thought they had me at the beauty hall, but then I discovered my favourite food shopping destination in the whole of London; the Selfridges Food Hall. (By the way, a slight but related side note, who has been watching Mr Selfridge on ITV? It is so magical hearing the story behind our favourite department store!)

2. Spitalfields & Brick Lane, E1

I may not have enjoyed living in East London much, but the times when I felt glad I did were all when I was wandering around Brick Lane and Spitalfields on a sunny Spring afternoon. If you're looking for something quirky, with variety but with some of your favourite stores thrown in to this is where you should head, taking the Central Line and getting off at Liverpool Street Station. You can grab a burrito from one of my personal favourites, Poncho No. 8 or some seasonal cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery (its down Frying Pan Alley!) before stopping off in the great Benefit and Whistles stores, en route to go vintage shopping at what is in my opinion the best vintage store in London; Blitz and go hang on the deck of Boxpark, the pop up mall built out of shipping containers just next to Shoreditch High Street overground station.

3. Covent Garden & The Seven Dials, WC

While it is another London shopping destination that is best enjoyed in the sunshine, Covent Garden is I think the closest you'll get to the traditional British High Street in London, and it reminds me a lot of my hometown of Canterbury. You've got all your nicer High Street stores (think Zara rather than H&M) and a beautiful Jack Wills, as well as some more unique locations including one of London's few Kate Spade stores hidden down a side street. You've also got the market area with different things going on around the year, Opening Ceremony, The Icecreamists (best ice cream I've had in London), Laudree and my favourite London Apple Store. The Seven Dials is a bit more indie but with some other amazing gems such at Hotel Chocolat's cafe, and some nice smaller makeup boutiques from our favourite department store brands. 

4. Westbourne Grove, W11

While my main obsession with this fashionable road in Notting Hill is mainly food related (some of my favourite restaurants can be found either on, or just off of this road. I've set myself the task of eating in every single one of the restaurants on the road!) However, it is also a fantastic place to shop. I know this, because lots of the restaurants on Westbourne Grove don't take reservations but at some of them, like Granger & Co. let you leave your name on the door and come back in about half an hour, which gives you time to browse (I'll shut up about food now!) There is a great charity shop opposite the great blue tiled fresh flower stall in the middle of the road that has some pretty fantastic designer pieces. They also have a great mix of high end high street and designer boutiques, as well as a small (but my favourite!) Whistles store in London which always seems to have sale items still left in smaller sizes. 

5. Westfield Stratford City, E20

Last Summer Westfield ran a East vs. West online campaign pitting Westfield Stratford City in East London against Westfield London in White City in West London against each other, and if I'd been in the city to participate in some of the blogger stuff at the time, I would have been firmly in the Stratford camp. Not only did it used to be my local shopping destination, I like it so much better than Westfield London, or indeed the only other big shopping center I frequent in England; Bluewater. First, even though they do have a map app in case you get lost (!) in one of the biggest shopping malls in Europe it is really easy to navigate. White City confuses the hell out of me, and while Bluewater may be two triangles stacked on top of each other sometimes you find yourself walking a very long way if the store you are looking for is on the opposite side to your current location. Westfield Stratford is just two long 'streets' with some outdoor bits, with John Lewis and Waitrose (one of my favourite Westfield destinations) and Marks & Spencer and a simply huge food hall at the other end. Westfield Stratford also has an amazing blend of shops; yes they have an awesome Mulberry store and a pretty rad Kooples location, but they also have the only Forever 21 in Britain which does not make you feel like you're getting crushed when you're browsing, and a good choice of high-range high street stores like a brilliant Hobbs store and nice Jaeger and Reiss locations.

If you're a Londoner, a regular visitor or someone who has just visited the city once or twice, where are your favourite places to go and shop? Do you like to focus on general areas with their different vibes, or on individual stores?

This post is my entry into VisitBritain Shop's London Blogger Competition. You can read more details here.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Student Suppers: A Warming Carrot Soup

My current obsession is brightly coloured puréed vegetable soups. Though we have had some breaks of a few days were we'd had some hot beach weather, and while we don't get weather like London or New York, contrary to popular belief Los Angeles does actually get cold. I know, terrible isn't it? Poor me. Anyway, so to keep me comforted against the chill I have been living off of Nigella Lawson's incredible recipe for Slime Soup (it tastes much better than it sounds, it is actually a Halloween recipe that I love all year round), but there is only so much peas and mozzarella cheese one girl can eat, so I started to turn to other vegetables. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday Style File: The English Country Home

On the coffee table in our living room at home, my mother has stacks upon stacks of The English Home magazine. I never used to be that interested in them; I found them boring compared to my even larger stack of British Vogue issues I had up in my study, but before I left for America some evenings in front of the television I found myself flicking through them. I think Pinterest has to be to blame for my sudden love for all things to dress and adorn the home, but now I find myself quite literally a million miles away from home, I think I have fallen even more in love with the aesthetic I know I will be coming home to in a couple of months time.
Though I can only hope to have a house as beautiful as this sometime in the future, when I return to England and have my own space to move into (hopefully in London for my final year at university  fingers crossed) I'm sure I will be scouring the web for the odd promotional code for House of Fraser to try and bring a bit of the home I grew up in into my home, if that makes sense? I will also try searching for things like Ocado vouchers, as I seem to spend way too much of my time grocery shopping when I could be making Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies. Which are much more important. Obviously. (Incidentally, if something a little bit more modern is your cup of tea you could look for voucher for instead!)
Anyway, back to The English Country Home. I love the idea of having lots of smaller hydrangea pots by the back door; it breaks it up a bit in a way you can't achieve if you just stick them all into one big planter. They are one of my favourite flowers, and they remind me of my home in Northern France where they grow in abundance by the roadside and peoples front gardens. We're not onto the garden stage of our place yet, but I hope my parents realise I will be insisting on us getting at least a couple of bushes of them!
My favourite things about this kitchen is the Aga. For those of you who don't know what an Aga is (which means you probably did not grow up in the English countryside) it is basically a permanently warm cooking stove with at least a main oven and a warming oven (sometimes more) and two very versatile hot plates, one with full heat and one which is a simmering plate. I learnt to cook on one and when I am away from the lovely navy blue one in my parents kitchen I miss cooking without it. This is in spite of how easy it is to burn yourself taking something in and out of the oven, the still yet to face scar on my arm from Christmas Eve 2011 is there to prove this point. While some girls are the type to plan their dream wedding, I spend time planning what colour Aga I am going to have in my home (this is a bit like the oddity where Rose is the only other person I know who gets excited by kitchen gadgets in her Christmas stocking.) I've decided cream or duck egg blue, depending on the colour of the rest of my future kitchen, in case anyone wanted to know!
English Country Home Interior
Image Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

One thing I do love and my mother has in our drawing room, yet I won't be having in my dream home when I grow up are these beautifully full curtains. I know, they look fantastic and add something to a room that would usually look a bit sparse with painted panelling  but do you know how difficult it is to hoover around the bottom of these where they are sitting on the ground? They also like to gather dead flies and more bits of fluff than I ever thought possible at the bottom of their folds. 

What sort of home do you aspire to be eventually living in? Will it be anything like the home you grew up in, or do you want to go off in a totally different direction to the aesthetic your parents went with?

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

Friday, 15 February 2013

10 Things They Never Tell You About London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week. A twice a year circus that takes place in the courtyard of Somerset House consisting of the fashion set, models, photographers and bloggers all jostling for prominence. I both love and loathe London Fashion Week in equal measure because yes, it is fantastic and I'm lucky to go, but some people see it as this amazing thing without really understanding what it is like to attend. The A/W13 season starts today (for those of you not fluent in fashion speak this means the collections will be shown to dictate the stuff that we will be able to buy in the Autumn) in London, so I thought I'd put together a piece about the real experience of attending London Fashion Week while I'm sitting checking it out remotely from my apartment in Los Angeles ahead of my return to the fray next season. A big thank you to my usual London Fashion Week partner in crime Sherin for helping brainstorm some of these over Skype with me last weekend!
lfwmyths 1. Those benches are really, really hard. Unless the shows theme includes switching out the usual long white seating benches for something that happens to be a little more comfortable, they are very, very uncomfortable to sit on, you feel crammed in like sardines at most shows and some of the slightly longer shows will leave your bum feeling rather numb indeed. 

2. You will feel mentally, physically and emotionally drained by the end of it. It will take you a couple of weeks to recover. 

3. It is not actually necessary to attend all of the shows. Basically, if you miss one it is not actually the end of the world. In a day there are so many clashes on the schedule, and it is a near miracle if a show actually starts on time, so you might not get to all of the shows you are planning on seeing. Don't worry or stress about it. See point one, and remember that you'll be able to catch up on all the crystal clear end of the runway photos less than an hour later, usually on

4. If you have access to the Press Lounge where they have a giant fridge of the stuff, you will practically live off of Vitamin Water. 

5. Press requests will make you wonder if they whole thing is even worth it. It is a myth reserved for the very elite Susie Bubbles and Rumi Neeley's of this world that bloggers simply get invited to all the cool shows. Either you get invites based on your relationship with the relevant PR people (which you usually had to cultivate with press requests in the first place), or you have to sit for mind numbing hours on end emailing all the press contacts listed on the London Fashion Week website for each individual show you'd like to be considered for attending.

6. Specialised blister plasters will become your best friends, at least by the end of day one, even when wearing your most comfortable pair of heels. Those cobbles outside Somerset House are murder, and don't even get me started on the run uphill in the direction of Covent Garden to get to shows on the Vauxhall Fashion Scout schedule.

7. The Pizza Express on the Strand just a few doors down from Somerset House will also become your best friend.

8. Sometimes someone will arrive outside the British Fashion Council tent and all the photographers in the vicinity will go rushing towards them trying to get the perfect shot. Nine times out of ten this person is some sort of reality television star or minor celebrity whom you have no idea who they actually are and have no idea what the fuss is all about. Last season I attended I had conversations with both Kate Nash and Shingai Shoniwa from The Noisettes without having a clue who they were, in spite of having at least one song from both of them on my iPod.

9. As far as street style is concerned, you will feel inadequate by the end of a week of seeing a whole bunch of people with better hair than you, and who manage to hold a clutch in some graceful way or tie their trench coat in some interesting way that you could neither manage or pull off as well as they do, no matter how hard you try.

10. After a few seasons every season in your head will start merging together. I honestly have to stop and think for a moment if I skipped a '12 season. I don't *think* I did, but I had to think about it! Actually, the merging of shows inside one season starts the moment you arrive. After your third show of the day and a reporter is asking you what your favourite collection so far has been, you genuinely won't be able to tell them which you have attended that day without looking at your photographs, Tweets and/ or your notes.

Do any more London Fashion Week veterans want to add to the list of things that outsiders never realise about our Fashion Week experience? (Incidentally, I'm skipping out on this season too on account of being in Los Angeles (I'll be back for S/S14 though!) so for good social media coverage I'd recommend following Sherin on Twitter and Instagram, she always manages to attend some pretty great shows, and my wonderful best friend and co-Editor at The Glossy Guide Kathryn on Twitter and Instagram, as she will also be popping up at a couple of shows, and hopefully putting together some backstage content for The Glossy Guide too!)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: The Tasting Kitchen, Abbot Kinney

Okay, so while Toast is now down as my favourite lunch spot in Los Angeles, I have recently discovered my absoute favourite brunch spot in LA in the form of The Tasting Kitchen at the end of Venice's Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Practically every website that lists the best places to eat brunch in Los Angeles lists The Tasting Kitchen, and from the moment you step inside and see the decor, and the waiting staff carrying everyone delicious looking and smelling orders to their tables, pretty quickly you understand why.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lets Talk Smartphones: Playing With HTC's Windows Phone 8X

I honestly don't think I'd be able to blog, let alone keep up with all my cooking and recipes without a smartphone. When I was living in England I, along with the rest of my friends was a Blackberry user, but when I moved to the United States I purchased my first every iPhone. I'm pretty attached to my Mac Book Pro, and therefore a disciple of the Apple cult, so I did not really think about what other smartphones were out there. Except for the Samsung Galaxy of course. My Dad has one and I hate it, it is pretty hard to use even one if its most basic functions; answering the damn thing. Anyway, as an Apple user I'm hardwired to cross myself against the sign of evil when I see a Samsung Galaxy phone. However, when I was invited to the launch of HTC's new Windows Phone 8X on the rooftop of The London Hotel on the Sunset Strip (one of the best event venues ever, in my opinion), I decided I'd approach the phone with an open mind, especially as I'm not too much of a fan of the new iPhone 5 where they've messed around with the placement of the headphone jack, the size of the connection slot and not to mention the whole maps fiasco.
While I'm not going to pretend to be a tech or geek blogger with this post, because I'm not by any stretch of the imagination, I thought I'd talk about HTC's new phone as a user; because lets face it, who do you know (maybe except for parents and other older family members) who does not use a smartphone? We're all pretty much addicted. The guys at HTC were kind enough to send me this new phone, and while contract wise I will be sticking to my iPhone, there are actually many things it does better than my iPhone, which I will now be using it for instead.

Unless you've been living under a rock since, what, mid October if you're going to judge by the adverts running on American TV, on billboards and bus stops all over Los Angeles etc. it is hard for you to not already know about Windows tiles. This is one feature I really love both for practicality (though it is no more practical than homescreen app icons on other smartphones), but also for aesthetics. It is totally customisable, and very, very pretty. Also, I can pin a little square of my blog on the homescreen. Totally awesome.
DSC_0681 I don't actually have a sim card in this phone so I can't really attest to what it is like as one, but one of the big features they were pushing at the launch party was the built in camera. Now, I've become pretty used to using my iPhone as a camera for some in the spur of the moment shots, as well as for Instagram to save me lugging my massive DSLR around with me. One of the times the hefty camera does seem to draw attention to me when I'm not really comfortable is when I'm shooting my meal in a restaurant for a 'Places To Eat In London' or 'Places To Eat In Los Angeles' feature. With this in mind, I took my HTC 8X along to The Sycamore Kitchen with me when I reviewed it in January. Please explain to me in what way is this photo inferior to some of the restaurant snaps of my meal I've shot with my DSLR? It's not. The camera on this thing is incredible.
WP_20130110_003 Apps wise, this phone is great if you want a smartphone, but not great if you're a blogger or work in or with social media, and want a smartphone. Yes you can get Facebook and Twitter on here, but Instagram? No. (Though, there is an inbuilt photo editing app with filters if you want to send Instagram style photos to Twitter.) Pinterest? No. (Though the web view is okay.) Bloglovin'? Ditto. You want to jump on the latest Vine bandwagon? Not a chance. This is great for people who like to surf the web, read the paper (I have a Times Online (London Edition) subscription and the app for this phone is just as good as the one on my iPhone), but not great for people like us bloggers who like their social media in excess.
DSC_0696 However, all this being said, it has been decided by me that until such a time I can get my hands on an iPad (don't get be started on the Kindle Fire) my 8X is going to become my designated Kindle. The screen is much bigger than most smartphones, and much shinier and clearer, giving for a much better reading experience  which unless you have an actual paper and ink book in your hands, is pretty good going as far as reading experiences go.

What smartphone are you using at the moment, and what do you like and not like about it? Also, who else here has tried Windows tiles? I do love this phone, but I'm not sure if I'd want to use it full time, and that is a compatability issue. Nothing will ever get me switching from Apple Mac back to a Windows laptop, and the 8X and a Mac Book Pro are really not comptable and I have become rather used to how all my Apple products seemlessly sync together. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Weekly Love: Week 127

I'm usually not big on reality television. Okay, so along with the rest of Britain I used to occasionally watch The X Factor but not really anymore. I had a brief flirtation with The Voice USA (don't get me started on the UK version) as I liked the format, but apart from that, and my guilty pleasure for some food reality shows like Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares USA, until now there has not been a gameshow format reality TV show I've been absolutely obsessed with. Hands up American readers who have been watching ABC's The Taste? It is basically The Voice but for cooks, and Nigella Lawson is a judge (now, she knows how to do reality TV with class.) If you are at all interested in food, I have your Tuesday night viewing sorted. The Taste is what is new with me this week, everything else has just been classes, oh, and of course this blogs 4th birthday - I said it last week, but thank you all for reading, I would be nowhere without you all!
1. Looking out on Santa Monica from the top of the pier. | 2. A warm Belgium waffle with fresh fruit; a Sunday morning brunch at Le Pain Quotidien. | 3. The obligatory upwards Instagram shot taken at Chris Burden's 'Urban Light' installation every time I visit the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. | 4.  A Saturday morning brunch at my new favourite LA brunch spot; The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. A full blog post write up to follow, but if you happen to be there for brunch before then and you're wondering what I had; I can really recommend the 'Egg In A Basket' French Toast served with bacon, and a 'Petite Mary' celery and citrus salt martini. | 5. Showing off my new Toms on Abbot Kinney after brunch; I'm wearing a navy and mint striped top from Gap, J.Crew shorts, navy blue Toms and my bag was a gift from the guys at Dorothy Perkins when I visited their HQ on Oxford Street at the beginning of last Summer. | 6. My new favourite Pinkeberry USA flavour; Passion Fruit.

Over the summer, Refinery 29 (quite literally my favourite fashion and lifestyle website on the planet) wrote a piece on CC creams, and I commented on the post what if Chanel were even going to be making one, I might try it then. In the comments that ensued I was called a beauty snob, and a big debate arose on what it says about you if you buy designer or drugstore beauty products. At the time, I wrote a response and debate piece on The Glossy Guide entitled 'How Much Is Too Much To Spend On Makeup & Beauty Products', but now Refinery 29 has written a piece asking 'Does Liking A Luxury Beauty Brand Make You A Beauty Snob?', sparked by my initial comments, which lays down an interesting debate, and has some great discussion and insights going on in the comment section - I urge you to go take a look! Also, another month means another one of my 'Project LA' columns for The High Tea Cast has gone on line; this month I've written a piece on British and American comedy, and why we'll never really understand each others jokes!
7. Venice Beach Boardwalk on a sunny Saturday afternoon. | 8. Strolling through the spray up the beach from Venice to Santa Monica. | 9. This is how fresh produce is displayed in Southern Californian supermarkets. The vegetables are regularly sprayed with water, too. | 10. I sometimes wish I could buy the entire J.Crew store. | 11. Coordinating my nail polish with my finger brace after a little incident - on the mend now, though! | 12. Sand play on Santa Monica Beach.

How many of you have started using new super app 'Vine'? I really like it, but it annoys me that it is still a bit glitchy; I film video clips but the uploads fail. For those of you who don't know, Vine is a new app which is the Instagram of the video world, allowing you to put together and share little video clips. I think it is going to be great for things like fashion week coverage and little cooking tip clips. You can find me by searching 'Rachel Phipps' - I've got loads of content planned for it, so stay tuned! 

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

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Recipe: Americana Bacon, Maple & Blueberry Breakfast Oatmeal

The things I love to have on pancakes at breakfast, American style are blueberries, bacon and maple syrup. Now, while I'm usually not fussed about the calorie content of my treats, making a batch of hot, fresh and fluffy American pancakes for breakfast in the mornings is something only to be reserved for lazy days and weekends. So, how could I get my fix on a weekday? So, one morning I decided to put my pancake toppings atop a steaming bowl of oatmeal, and my Americana Breakfast Oatmeal was born. (Yes, Mummy, I give you permission to be shocked. Not only has your daughter started to eat red meat since moving to America, but she now voluntarily eats oatmeal for breakfast too! You're never going to get me eating Brussel Sprouts though.)
I find this topping combo gives the perfect balance of sweet (from the syrup and the blueberries) and salty (from the bacon bits). When I eat my oatmeal plain, I do tend to like to sweeten it with maple syrup or honey mixed in before cooking, so if you are not big on the sweetness, you can leave the syrup out of your oats, and only add it to the bacon bits topping. Its all about what suits your personal tastes. This recipe serves one.

  • 1/2 Cup Oats, Rolled or Steel Cut etc., whichever your prefer (I use Rolled)
  • 1 Piece Unsmoked Streaky Bacon (Smoked will work if you can't find Unsmoked, USA readers)
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • A Handful Blueberries

First cook your bacon until crispy. If this is a weekday breakfast and you want to be quick about it, it should only take a minute or two in a very hot frying pan. Set aside on kitchen roll to soak up all the excess fat. Meanwhile, mix the water and the oats in a large, microwave proof bowl and add a tablespoon of the maple syrup. Stir well, and microwave on high for one minute. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into small pieces. Place in a small bowl and pour over the remaining syrup. Stir, and set aside. Stir the oatmeal and return to the microwave for another minute. It should be cooked and the water should be absorbed, but you can put it back in for another 30 seconds or so if you think it needs it. Allow to cook for a few minutes, so the bowl is cool enough to touch and the oatmeal won't burn your tongue if you try to eat it (!) and top with the blueberries, followed by the maple bacon mixture. Enjoy!
Oatmeal is still a relatively new foodstuff for me, so any other serving suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Though, I have had some ideas involving coconut milk, coconut flakes and fresh banana slices I want to experiment with...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Gift Guide: Be Your Own Valentine 2013

Last year everyone seemed to enjoy my 'Be Your Own Valentine' gift guide, because lets face it, every time we leave the house in the month of February (especially so in America I have realised) you have the blatant commercialism of the 'holiday' shoved in your face, but not all of us have someone to buy us gifts (remind me why we do that again?) So, why not take February 14th as an excuse to treat yourself something pink and pretty? We might as well get something as an award for sitting through it all, after all, don't you think? (Alternatively, if you're a fan of country/ pop music hybrids (think Taylor Swift) and you happen to watch Nashville on ABC, you could just play 'Wrong Song' very loudly on repeat as a screw you to every guy who's ever screwed you over. I totally have it playing in the background as I write this post!)
The Impossible Collection of Fashion by Valerie Steele: $650, Benefit Posie Tint: £24.50 / $29, Diane Von Fustenburg Pink Pattern Scarf: £136 / $250, Sephora Ombre Seamless Hair Ties: $8, Marc Jacobs USB Keyring: £35 / $42, Miu Miu Pink Glitter Frame Sunglasses: £225 / $390, Hotel Chocolat Pink Collection: £25, Diptyque Rose Duet Limited Edition Candle: £42 / $65

While everything I've included in this roundup is pink and awesome, if money was no object and I could treat myself to any three items here, it would be the Diptyque candle, the Miu Miu sunglasses and the Hotel Chocolat collection. Hotel Chocolat goodies are always a no brainer for me, but this one includes two of my all time favourite things; Hotel Chocolat's Pink Champagne Truffles, and champagne itself! For only £25, how is this not the perfect way to treat yourself?

The Diptyque 'Rose Duet' candle is a limited edition, and it is a blend of Diptyque's two existing rose candle scents, making this the ultimate blend for the ultimate rose lover. I'm still regretting not buying myself one of their festive pine limited edition candles at Christmas. As for the Miu Miu's, which something that pink and glittery is not something I would usually wear or pick out for myself, I've always loved the style ever since it came out, and I think they would be perfect for those days when you just want to give into whimsy. Actually, the Marc Jacob's USB came in at a close third for me; as adorable as it is, I'm still totally in love with my Tiffany blue Tiffany & Co. USB - a press exclusive for anyone lucky enough to be invited to one of their events!

Will you be treating yourself to anything this Valentines Day? (Alternatively, you could just leave your laptop open on this blog post while your significant other is around, and hope that they take the hint!)

Friday, 1 February 2013

Happy 4th Blog Birthday To Rachel Phipps!

I can hardly believe it, but today marks this blogs 4th birthday - almost done being a teenager and only one year off of being a total grown up, by internet standards! Just to say a little thank you, after my morning Politics class yesterday I headed down to Santa Monica beach to record a little message for you all, marking this momentous occasion and thanking you all for sticking by me and engaging with this blog over the last few years; this blog has given me some amazing experiences afforded me some great opportunities and most important given me some of the most amazing friends I could ask for in the blogging community.
As a quick disclaimer, while I wanted to show you all the beach and I thought it would be a fantastic place to shoot the video, I want to apologise to the majority of my readers who I know are based back in England who I know are dealing with typically cold, wet and slushy January weather for rubbing it in your nose a bit the beautifully hot sunny days I've been enjoying here in LA. I promise I'll shoot next years video in a snowdrift!
(If you happened to be on Santa Monica beach around 2pm right by the pier yesterday and you were wondering who the lunatic was messing around in the spray, moving up the beach, drawing in the sand, lugging a massive camera and getting the bottoms of her Levi's soaking wet, here is your explanation as to what the crazy woman was doing!) Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who as every read my blog, left a comment, let me know what you've thought via Twitter, Facebook and via email. Your messages and feedback never fail to make my day, and here is to another year!