Monday, 25 November 2013

Yorke Design Hanging Flower Light Shade Review | Lotus

Flower Shade Lotus
A beautiful lampshade from Yorke Design

I think I'm in love…with a lampshade. I bought the Lotus shaped Hanging Flower Light Shade from Yorke Design and I cant stop staring at it. It's absolutely stunning and a perfect start to my room redecoration plans. I had been looking for a stylish lampshade and found it in this Lotus design. Divine.

I recently visited the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, and to be honest, sort of hated it. You can read my ranting on about it in my previous post on it, if you so wish. It was just, well, not my style, but when I stumbled across the Yorke Design stall, I knew that it had all been worth it. 

Flower Shade Lotus Box
It's very flat- but don't worry, there is a lampshade in there!

I have been thinking about redecorating my room for quite a while, but didn't really know where to start. I wanted to change the walls, and then the curtains and then the carpet and then I got in all of a muddle trying to decide on a theme and in the end, pushed it to the back of my mind. After all, it's not a priority. However, when I stumbled across this lampshade, plans sprung up in my head and it all made much more sense. Anyway, enough of my rambling, onto the lampshade.

Richard Yorke, the designer behind the flower shades has produced three different flower inspired lampshades: Lily, Snowdrop and Lotus (the one I went for). Every design comes in white, but Lotus has a wider colour range- with black, grey, yellow and red also to choose from. The lampshades are made from polypropylene and are ethically made, which is always good. After some deliberation, I went for white, because it was the most neutral. It was a tough choice picking between the three flower designs, but I went for Lotus in the end, because it was the biggest! 

Flower Shade Lotus Construction
The instructions and flat pack petals
After I'd chosen my desired lampshade, Richard handed me a flat packet, which surprised me- I thought the lampshades would come fully formed- turns out you have to build them yourself. Not a massive issue, but I thought my days of IKEA flat packs were behind me! Thankfully, no screwdrivers are needed in construction, just the provided plastic petals.

My only gripe with the product is that it says on the website that you can construct the lampshade in 5-20 minutes. Ahahaha. More like 50 minutes. Maybe other people would be able to do it quickly, but I found it quite fiddly. This does not put me off the lampshade at all, in fact, I'm even more chuffed with it because I feel proud that I eventually figured it out! It could have something to do with ignoring the instructions, but hey, I was impatient to put it up!

I like the mixture between modern design and natural influences and think that this lampshade makes a perfect centre piece in my room. It's £44.95 online, and I bought it for £30 at the Ideal Home Christmas Show. I would have paid full price for it, regardless, because it's so beautiful. It really brightens up my room and shines a beautiful, clean light. I team it with an energy saving bulb and I think it has a perfect glow.

I'd definitely recommend this lampshade if you're looking for a new one, and even if you're not right now, keep it in mind! I love to support independent businesses, especially when the products are as special as these ones.

Flower Shade Lotus Large
Mean and moody lampshade haha

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Friday, 22 November 2013

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas | Earl's Court

Stuck for tacky Christmas gift ideas? Look no further than the Ideal Home Show at Christmas at Earl's Court in London, which I visited last week with my family. Let's just say that I was not the instigator of this trip, and that I only agreed to go along for the free food samples, and to practice taking photographs, so I am not going to be the most fair and just reviewer.

The Ideal Home Christmas Show at Earls Court
Fake snow. Is there anything tackier?
Peter Andre at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
OMG it's Peter Andre!! I got told off for taking a picture because I hadn't paid to meet him...

I should probably preface this by saying that if you are a very Christmassy person (i.e. you watch Love Actually religiously every year, you have already decorated your house and have All I Want for Christmas is You on repeat from the beginning of November), then you would love it. It is very…Christmassy. Me, however, I'm not such a big fan. I mean, Christmas is alright- I like spending time with my family, I like having a break, I like the cold weather, but I do not like glittery reindeer, kitschy Santas and grown men dressed up as elves. It's just not my thing. So, quite why I decided to go along, I'm not sure, but hey, you live and learn.

Vintage hat at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
Trolly Dolly or idiot. You decide...

Santa decorations at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
Ho ho ho oh no I can't take it anymore...

I have to say that I don't have anything against events held in convention centres, I enjoyed the last event that I went to at Earl's Court. This was a Playstation 2 convention when I was 13 (don't judge, ok) so I know they can put on some decent events. I just cannot bear false jollities when one second you're bombarded with fake snow and the next you're crushed into someone's armpit as they scrabble for some piece of mass-produced, plastic tat. That's not to say that everything they are offering is rubbish, just that I've seen some better made quality products in Poundland. When the big attractions are a Peter Andre calendar and diamante lip stickers, you know it's not exactly classy.
Fairy lights at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
Shine bright like a…ball of string
But enough of my snobbery, it was fine if all you wanted to do was find some cheap-ish Christmas presents, and have a wander round some different stalls. A word of warning, though, if you are thinking of going-  it was very, very crowded. This made it difficult to move at times and I did feel more than a little claustrophobic. This was particularly bad around the kid's gift stalls, but that's to be expected, really.
Dried Fruit at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
These smelt pretty good, actually. Shock, horror!
Interior of the Ideal Home Christmas Show
Ice skating, anyone?

There were a wide variety of stalls, so gifts from natural make-up, to cook books, to designer poop-a-scoops, and many more. The food section, while short on the actual samples, did have a variety of options for lunch and a lot more varieties of wine! You could get your teeth whitened for a bargain price of £50 and you could also go ice skating if you fancied it. I did actually find something to buy (shock horror) and I'll write a post about it because I love it. It's a lampshade and as soon as I have it assembled and have the pictures ready I'll put a review up.

Bird Decoration at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
This little bird wasn't very Christmassy, but he was a happy chappy
I'd say, if you were planning on going to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, you should definitely bring some food with you, because the cafes inside Earls Court are a) crowded and b) a rip-off. I saw lots of people with shopping trolleys, so if you're planning on a big haul, then one is a must, or just go the whole hog and bring a suitcase! You'd probably do well to turn up early, as it was the busiest around lunchtime and a lot of the more unique products were sold out. 
Snowman at the Ideal Home Christmas Show
Even the snowman looks sad

If you don't have any tolerance for Christmas songs, buggies blocking the walkways or people desperately trying to sell you "realistic" hair extensions, then this probably isn't for you. However, if you are less cynical than I am and just want to get some gift ideas for Christmas, then this is probably more your thing. I suppose it's a bit like Marmite, and in this case, just like Marmite, I hate it.
 
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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

#MoRunning Battersea Park | 5k Movember Run

This weekend I did something a little different and ran 5k for Movember with MoRunning Battersea Park. My friend, Isabelle, and I decided to sign up to this race a few months ago, with the intention of training really hard and becoming pro-runners. Weeeeell, yeah. 
Isabelle actually did train for it, whereas I did not. Oops. Sometimes life uh uh finds a way, or rather gets in the way (sorry Jeff Goldblum).  So, I turned up more than a little unprepared. Oh well, it's just 5k. Can't be that hard right?!
MoRunning 5k Racers
MoRunning, MoFun, MoPain
Turns out, running is hard. I ran Race for Life in 2012 and had actually managed to train so that I could run the entire way around the course without stopping or walking- which was a huge achievement for me, considering that prior to training, I could not run 30 seconds without keeling over. So, I had high hopes for starting this training up again, but my enthusiasm and my dedication never quite saw eye to eye… They don't get along so well.

Battersea Park Sign
I'd never been to Battersea Park before and it is a beaut
Nevertheless, we made the trip to Battersea Park last Sunday to join in the race. I took my old point and shoot with me, since I don't think 5ks and DSLRs mix very well… I never realise what a difference  it makes having a DSLR until I use my old camera.
Anyway, I set myself a goal of trying to run as far as I could without stopping. That was all I was hoping for. Well, that and not collapsing and breaking my ankle and tears falling as I fall down in a slow circle and die. Or whatever that silly saying from ONTD is.

Beautiful Battersea Park
The calm before the storm...

The race start was at a pavilion in the centre of the park, which meant a lot of walking to get there. Not that we needed to tire ourselves out before a 5k! There was a bit of milling around and collecting race packs and rather fetching orange headbands before the race. We were also checking out the competition, which included people dressed up as Mario and Luigi, the 118 guys and rather moustache-less, crayola crayons. We didn't go for fancy dress, but did sport some rather charming moustaches. I managed to find a perfect colour match for my hair, which looked worryingly convincing.

Fabulous Movember Looks
Gotta love a joke present

Before the race, a trainer from British Military Fitness led us in a warm up, and then we were queueing up to start. The race was chip timed, so there was no hiding your result. I wasn't feeling particularly competitive, or confident, because I knew that I was in no shape to try and make a good time, but I thought, well, might as well give it my best shot.

MoRunning Start Line
You cannot escape a moustache 

It was difficult not to get intimidated by all the professional runners, but there were plenty of people in fancy dress to make you feel a bit better. I think there were about 700 or so runners, so I thought that as long as I didn't come last, I'd be fine. Once we set off, Isabelle and I got separated, but it was ok because there were so many runners, and anyway, you probably shouldn't chat whilst trying to race!

MoRunning Medal
Great medal- great theme throughout actually

The race consisted of two laps of the park and there were plenty of people on the sidelines shouting encouragements- not just the marshals, members of the public as well, which was very heartening. There was a good atmosphere amongst the runners and everyone was pretty cheery, despite the cold. The weather forecast had predicted mist and thankfully it was wrong, because I don't think I would have coped very well in misty conditions.

MoRunning Finisher
Victory! (Sans moustache, which fell off mid-run)
In the end, I managed to finish in 34:25, which I was ecstatic with. I didn't take any walking breaks and jogged the whole way round. Admittedly very slowly, but I made it! Isabelle also made a fantastic time and her training obviously paid off! I was very proud of myself, and her, for doing it, and it's spurred me on to actually start running again, because I'm not as unfit as I thought. Although my time is slower than my 5k last year, I know that's due to lack of training and that my lung capacity is still decent. I was honestly shocked that I managed to run the whole way, but was obviously very pleased.

After the race they were giving out free Lucozade, Haribo and bacon sandwiches, which were very popular. We hung around for a bit, but once the commentator started singing Return of the Mack, we thought it was a good time to leave.

We found our way to a greasy spoon and ordered a fry up. Yes, maybe its undoing all your hard work, but sometimes it's good to treat yourself to a good, sloppy, greasy, salty plate of carbs! Just what the doctor ordered.

English Breakfast
Mmmm horrifically calorific

I hope this post will serve as a reminder to me when I am feeling lazy and not up for running because I can do it and I do enjoy it and I need to just get off my bum and get out there!
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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Barker & Stonehouse Literary Event | Penned in the Margins

Barker and Stonehouse Battersea 01
Photo credit to Ercol Furniture on Flickr

A few weeks ago I was invited to a Penned in the Margins literary event hosted by Barker and Stonehouse, a stylish furniture retailer, at their Battersea shop. Penned in the Margins is an independent publisher, who specialise in contemporary poetry and spoken word. I had not heard of them before, but I am a big supporter of independent publishers and having looked into their publications and events, I think they deserve a lot of credit for their hard work in proliferating lesser known authors. It's all too easy to reach for Keats, Angelou or Cummings, but I think there's something quite rewarding, and special in exploring work from lesser known authors.

Penned in the Margins hosted an intimate, ambulatory poetry reading led by Siddhartha Bose, Simon Barraclough and Sarah Hesketh. I studied English Literature and Language at University and  attended quite a few poetry readings, so was no stranger to an intimate reading. I had been really looking forward to attending, but unfortunately something urgent cropped up at work at the last minute, which meant that I could not attend, but I would have really liked to go.

Since I could not attend, I read up on the poets in attendance and was even more annoyed that I missed it! Although these videos are not from the Penned in the Margins event itself, I can at least pretend I was there by watching these talented poets in action. I feel particularly drawn to Sarah Hesketh's work and her passion. I am sure that poetry this powerful is not to be missed live.







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Monday, 18 November 2013

Visiting Southampton | Weekend Away

Last weekend I took a trip down to Southampton to visit my brother and his friends in their admittedly very cushy student house. I'd only ever been down to Southampton a couple of times, mainly to look at Southampton University, which is where my brother is currently studying, and to do a little shopping in West Quay. I did a Southampton OOTD when we took him back to uni in September, but I didn't really go too crazy with the pictures. So, when I went down to stalk visit him last weekend, I took my DSLR and got snapping!

Macbook Air Early Morning
My dreams have finally come true *___*
My ulterior motive for visiting was that I paid my brother to buy me a Macbook Air, since he gets a student discount. I was absolutely thrilled, as I have wanted one for about ten years now and had never quite plucked up the courage to part with all the cash. Until now. And let me tell you, it is so worth it. I am delighted. I'm still getting used to it, especially since some of the keys are in different positions and some of the shortcuts are different- ctrl + click instead of right click...madness! But I am really loving it so far. 

I've gone on a bit of a new tech binge recently, what with buying my Nikon D3200 DSLR and my urbanears headphones, but I think I'm done for now. I am thrilled with what I do have and I think it's so rewarding to save up for something that you really want, rather than squandering your money on impulse purchases. (Yes, I'm still on a beauty spending ban, and yes I'm still sticking with it!)
 
Sprinkles Gelato Southampton Waffles
So bad for you, but so good. I think I've had my fill for waffles for the next 5 years

I asked my brother to show me the sights of Southampton, so he took me to a very popular cafe called Sprinkles Gelato in Portswood. It's a slightly gaudy ice cream parlour with loads of different flavours (hellooo mint choc brownie) and incredible waffles about the size of my head. I went for the Banoffee Waffle, which is, as you can imagine, a waffle topped with banana and toffee sauce. Delicious, but so filling! It was pretty reasonably priced at £4 as well. Although I would not recommend having this for lunch as I did- my head took a while to recover from the sugar overdose...

Sprinkles Gelato was very full, and obviously very popular. There were two different birthday celebrations going on, where they'd dim the lights and bring out a waffle with a candle in it. So fancy, and not at all embarrassing..! I was not really in the mood for ice cream, since it was so cold, but the flavours ranged from the standard vanilla, to the rather quirkier jammy dodger, so it would be good to return in the summer to check those out.

University of Southampton Campus
A secret garden...sort of

My brother also showed me around the Southampton University campus. I'd looked round it years before when I was deciding which uni to go to, but decided against Southampton in the end. The campus is one of the aspects that drew me to the university in the first place (what can I say- I'm easily swayed by greenery) and the campus was looking very autumnal. I'm trying to improve my photography skills, so took some pictures of the campus:


University of Southampton Campus
Spot the bin in the background...

University of Southampton Campus
With a little bit of snow, this would feel very Christmassy

University of Southampton Campus
My brother looking wistfully into the middle distance ha ha

University of Southampton Sign
It took quite a long time to find an actual sign. How am I supposed to know where I am?!

University of Southampton Campus
The library was my favourite building. I love a good bit of red brick

Brick Wall Hester Lierre
Another brick in the wall

A not very exciting OOTD for you- I went for functional overy fashionable, since it's very cold at the moment. Also, I couldn't be bothered with taking 200 pictures of myself from different wistful angles, with close ups of all the detail on my clothes. You get the picture- it was cold, so I wore lots of layers. To be honest, it's a bit of a blogger bugbear of mine (who decided that you needed 10+ pictures of an outfit to get the idea?!) and I can't really see myself being like that, but then again, stranger things have happened.

Chilly OOTD

Coat: Oasis
Grey top: River Island
Grey lightweight hoodie: Slazenger
Blue hoodie: From uni
Tartan scarf: Primark (recent!)
Jeans: Zara
Boots: Miss KG
Satchel: eBay

Urban Street Southampton
So studenty, so suburban

We had a good wander around, and then went to a fireworks display in the evening, which was set to classical music. Not a favourite of mine, but the fireworks were very impressive. I find that if you go to too many firework displays, then you stop ooh-ing and ash-ing and just start yawning, but this one was spectacular. 

Southampton Docks Fireworks
Boom boom boom even brighter than the moon moon moon (great lyrics, there)

Southampton Docks Fireworks
I think this was part of the finale. It's certainly gorgeous either way

So, there we have it, my little sojourn around Southampton. I would have liked to visit some more of the sights, and seen a few museums, but when there are waffles to eat, who can resist?

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup | Winter Warmers

I love a good soup in Autumn/Winter and this year I've been making a spiced butternut squash soup to take to work. I would say everyday, but that would be a lie. It's whenever I have the time to make it, so maybe three times a week, depending on the quantities I make. I don't think I could have the same soup for lunch five times a week, so I do mix it up a bit, but this has been my favourite. It's very easy to make, and tastes delicious. So, here's the recipe:
 
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
 

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash, halved
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Recipe

  1. Halve the butternut squash and place on a baking tray. Spread on half the olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin seeds and chilli flakes. If you want the soup spicier, then add more, but be warned- it can get very spicy! Then roast for 40 minutes, or until soft
  2. Heat the other half of the olive oil in a large pan and add the minced garlic cloves and chopped onion. Fry until soft and then add the softened butternut squash from the oven. Obviously, don't add the stringy bits, the skin or the seeds. Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer for a bit
  3. Blitz with a hand blender (or pour into a blender) until all smooth and combined. You can add more or less stock, depending on how thick you like your soup.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
I generally get 3 servings out of this amount of soup, but feel free to thin it down with more water if you want! I'm thinking of expanding my repertoire and making some different soups- anyone got any suggestions?
 
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Monday, 4 November 2013

Free things to do in London | The Saatchi Gallery

I asked on twitter the other day which gallery I should go to in London and the lovely Chew from My Style Stories suggested that I visit the Saatchi Gallery. She had written a post about it, and this immediately motivated me to go, as I had never been before! It also meant that I got out the house and didn't spend all day eating leftover Halloween chocolate...oops.

Saatchi Gallery Exterior
I do love a good exposed brick wall

Anyway, the Saatchi Gallery is really easy to get to. It's just off the King's Road in Chelsea, which is of course, full of very glamorous people! It's about a five minute walk from Sloane Square tube, so not difficult to get to at all. Although it may prove difficult to resist going into all the shops on the King's Road. I did manage, I'm on a beauty spending ban, you know!

The Saatchi Gallery, like many of London's art galleries and museums is free to look round. I am so grateful for this, because it means you can revisit as many times as you want and not feel like you have to cram everything into one visit. If I do that, I feel like all the art is too overwhelming to take in and I get a little fatigued! Anyone else? Or just me...

Telephone Pole
The sky was so beautiful and crisply Autumnal

The Saatchi Gallery specialises in contemporary art, so if you're looking for oils of past Kings and Queens, look elsewhere. I mentioned in an earlier post, that I'm currently taking art history evening classes, which I am very much enjoying. This is a different style of art to what is covered in those classes, but I think it's a good idea to see a wide spectrum of work and not limit myself to what we studied last (saints and sinners, in case you were wondering).

Saatchi Gallery Entrance
I also like a good pillar. Very grand

The gallery exhibits work by largely unknown British artists, or overseas artists who rarely show their work in Britain. I think this is a great idea, since you're seeing new talent that's really on the cutting edge. The Saatchi Gallery is housed within a beautiful old building, which I think adds to the charm. I really enjoying wandering round and looking at all the pieces on display. I do find that everyone does a funny little walk, stop, stare, nod and move on at galleries. Must be the accepted way of appreciating art ha ha.

Stillness
Tom Thayer's Stillness. I love the feeling this evokes

My favourite piece was part of the Paper collection and was Tom Thayer's Stillness. It made me feel very serene and calm. Sometimes I can have quite a visceral reaction to some of the more accusatory contemporary art, but I really enjoyed the mood of Stillness. Of course, I have to mention the stunning installation by Marcelo Jácome, Planos-pipas n17, which was drawing quite a crowd! I think big installations are always popular.
Planos Pipas N17
The amazing Planos-Pipas n17! It was one of the most popular in the gallery

I enjoyed looking at a different type of art, to the sort I study on Wednesday evenings and feel like I've come away inspired. I really enjoy being around talent, and the Saatchi gallery is bursting with it. Not all of the pieces were to my personal taste, but there's always something to be learnt from your reaction to different pieces.

Mothership
Mothership by Silke Schatz

I'd recommend popping into the Saatchi Gallery if you have a spare minute. Contemporary art may not be to everybody's taste, but there's plenty of innovation to keep you interested, even if you're not a fan of "art". Or, of course, there's always the King's Road if the Saatchi Gallery doesn't float your boat.

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Friday, 1 November 2013

No Spend November | Beauty Ban

Ok, I've got a confession- I have a beauty spending habit. I can easily drop a looot of money in Boots. I don't bat an eyelid loading up a basket in Superdrug. I practically count down the minutes until the newest beauty samples come out in the magazines. Not good at all.

My biggest weakness is skincare. I am always buying new lotions and potions to try and improve my skin. However, in my quest for better skincare, I think I'm actually damaging my skin by changing up my routine constantly. Not just that, I'm also wasting money.

I realised this the other day, when I cleared out my bag and found at least four Boots receipts from the past month and was shocked to see just how much I had spent. I've recently saved enough money for a new laptop, but wondered why it took me so long, and looking at those receipts, it doesn't take a genius to work it out.

Kate Spade Purse Chained
The world's fanciest padlock and chain

I am blogging about this, so I become accountable for my actions. I need to break the habit and I need to do it now before I get out of control! I decided that this November I'm putting a stop to my unnecessary beauty spending and this is why I'm doing it:

  • I am buying products that I do not need just to review them. This is not a good enough reason to spend money! I buy products, try them, and then store them. What's the point? If I don't love it, then I don't need it
  • I need the money for more exciting things- moving out, holidays, a new camera lens. I enjoy experiences more than a new lipstick, so my money is better spent on those
  • I have to stop believing the hype around products and buying them because they're big in the beauty blogging community. I've been a little better at this recently, since I didn't cave and buy the Maybelline Baby Lips, but I have bought a couple of hyped products and to be honest, I wish I hadn't
  • I really don't need any more beauty products. I have more than enough moisturisers, cleansers, foundations, lipsticks etc to keep me going for a looong time. I really must use up what I already have.
I am committed to doing this, so have set myself a couple of rules to remember for when I am feeling tempted:

1) I do not want to buy any beauty products from 1 November to 30 November inclsuive
2) I do not want to buy magazines with free make up products attached
3) I do not want to spend money on beauty products. I want to save my money for better things.

So, here we go. I'll probably do a couple of catch up posts, to see how I'm getting on. Wish me luck!
 
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