Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday Fun

Happy Friday everyone!
House of Fraser are currently running a Style Challenge competition for the chance to win £200 of vouchers, and while I'm certainly no fashion blogger I do feel like I know what looks good even if I don't manage to be particularly stylish 24/7, so here is my entry:

On the red carpets recently we have seen a resurgence of Old Hollywood Glamour - think Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and the vintage icon that is Dita Von Teese. This look pays homage to that era by keeping lines sleek and upping the glamour-factor with a few key items of bling. 

The dress, from Phase Eight, is a great figure-flattering shape which nips you in at the smallest point and skims over the hips and thighs creating a really sleek outline. The muted gold tone is enhanced by a subtle shimmer which will be picked up in the jewellery.  
The Steve Madden shoes are fab-u-lous and the sparkle will look great peeping out from under the bottom of the dress as you sashay along that red carpet.  
The bag from Coast adds a touch of texture to the outfit which will give the simple dress another dimension, this could also easily be given a hint of sparkle for added interest by attaching this beautiful hummingbird broach from East.  
These gorgeous stud earrings bring that touch of colour up to the face for a birghtening effect and this gorgeous statement ring, also from East, adds a pop of colour which ties together the accessories nicely.  
This look would look great teamed with smokey-eyes and nude lips and hair pulled back into a loose up-do รก la Scarlett Johansson, perfect for all those Christmas parties and award ceremonies that will be coming up soon. 
So what do you think?

Monday, 27 August 2012

Monday Mumbles

It's Monday again and a Bank Holiday so no work today (Yippee!), and I am spending the day relaxing before heading off to a friends house-warming BBQ later this afternoon... let's hope the weather holds!

This week has been fairly uneventful, I finally managed to catch up on a bit of sleep from all that I missed over the last few weeks travelling madness 

I walked or cycled to work 4 days out of 5 this week which should be a fair addition to my trek training 

I made the decision to join Weight Watchers this week and went to my first meeting on Wednesday night, I'm trying to be really positive and hoping for at least a small loss this week. 

My four bridesmaids came to stay with my on Saturday night, we had an enormous lunch at The Minnow in Weybridge and then spent the rest of the day making plans for my hen party and discussing other wedding related business - we were surprisingly productive! 

I had a glorious day relaxing on the sofa on Sunday, it's been a while since I had a duvet day and it was most definitely needed... I'm now feeling refreshed and ready for another week. 

What have you guys been up to? How did you spend your Bank Holiday weekend? 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday Fun

Are you ready for some Friday Fun?! Here are a few things that made me smile this week: 

10 Reasons Why... by Emily Hartridge 
If you haven't already heard about Emily then go take a look at her youtube series. Emily is frank, hilariously loopy, and effortlessly cool and dishes out some honest advice. 

Stationery Designer Veronica Dearsley 
I met Veronica at School of Rock and her designs are bright, fun and slightly kooky... what's not to love? 

While finally unpacking my suitcase from my travels a couple of weeks ago Skittles sneaked her way into the pocket of my suitcase for a quick nap...sneaky sneaky!

The Power of Positivity from Rock N'Roll Bride 
What's the nicest thing that's been said to you recently? 

Live video stream of a mum-cat + kittens - watch for 5 mins and you'll be smiling all day. 

This little image I found on Pinterest - some very good advice indeed!

What have you seen or done this week that's brought a smile to your face?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wedding Wednesday: All Quiet on the Wedding Front

Things have been a bit quiet on the wedding front of late (as you may have seen from other posts I've been pretty busy over the last month or so), though luckily we got all of the big things out of the way pretty early on - dress, shoes, venue, photographer, and band - so I'm still feeling rather relaxed about the whole thing... for now at least! 

I'm trying to be as organised as possible so we've got a long 'To Do' list taped to the fridge which we are slowly ticking through - I must admit however that my original list was about half as long until I ran it past my super-organised bridesmaid Tammy who instantly doubled it's length with items she came up with 'off the top of her head', so at least now I won't miss anything. Because we still have 5 months to go there is quite a bit that can't be done until nearer the time, which frustrates me immensely - I like to be prepared and am massively impatient so waiting to be able to do something for what is going to be one of the most important events in my life is driving me crazy, especially as Andy doesn't share my need to be so ahead of the game (he is the most laid back person I've ever met).  

I've tried to spread out the things on our list so that I have enough to keep me going until right up to the wedding but I'm already ahead of myself. Somehow I need to slow myself down, I'm just not sure how! I wouldn't call myself an uptight person but if I know something needs doing I'd rather just get on and do it than leaving it festering on one of my many To Do lists (the same can not be said for housework unfortunately which I will happily procrastinate over for weeks). 

Over the next few weeks I shall be putting together our invitations ready to be sent out and Andy will be heading off to try on some suits (about time too!) with his 2 best men - I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that. 

What were you all doing 5 months before your wedding?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Spiced Carrot Cake

Spiced Carrot Cake from Restoration Cake: 

Charlotte from Restoration Cake shared this delightful recipe on Friday so I decided to give it a go... here is how it went: 

The prep work is all pretty easy, though grating carrots has never been my favourite task - thankfully I have my Kenwood Prospero which makes this MUCH easier! I've also recently been using Wilton Cake Release for greasing my cake tins and it's been sooo much simpler than faffing with baking parchment. I did choose to leave the sultanas out though as I'm not a fan but otherwise I stuck to the recipe.

The finished mixture went into the oven and very quickly began to smell amazing which made the wait for it to be ready utterly excruciating - patience = zilch! Finally it was time to take  out of the oven and admire the cakes in their naked form. 

I made the silky smooth cream cheese frosting while I waited for the cakes to cool, again this was super easy though somehow I always seem to need far more icing sugar than it says in the recipe - maybe it's just my sweet tooth, who knows. 

I cut the top of one of the cakes off so that when I stacked them they would sit together better and proceeded to slather it with frosting, sneaking a wee spoonful  as I went, and here's how it turned out. 

I brought this into work today and it went down a treat!
Tasty, flavourful and easy to make... why don't you give it a go?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Monday Mumbles

Hello all! 
It's fairly safe to say that the last few weeks have been pretty manic so my posts have been sporadic at best so here is a quick round up of what's been going on: 

Andy and I spent a fabulous weekend in Chicago (read all about it here) 

We attended the wedding of our good friends Chris & Jen up in Bradford which was a wonderful day - we laughed, we cried (well I cried; the speeches were just beautiful) and we danced the night away in the most gorgeous setting 

I survived a typhoon in Shanghai last week! We weren't able to leave the hotel for 3 days but thankfully got home with only an hour delay. 

I attended the School of Rock workshop run by Kat (with a little help from Gareth) of Rock N'Roll Bride which was amazingly informative, fun and inspirational - so you may be seeing a few changes to the blog in the coming weeks... look out! 

A boozy night out in Clapham with a few of my favourite girls on Saturday somehow didn't result in a hangover (no idea how that happened) 

Finally, I had a lovely lunch out with my dancing girls (we met at a dance class, they don't just dance for me!) on the South Bank and we caught up on everybody's news in the sunshine. 

Phew, I need a rest now! 
What have you lovely lot been up to this week?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

My weekend in Chicago

Chicago is an incredible city, even in the short amount of time we had I think we managed to pack in a lot.
Firstly, the transport system is great, super easy to navigate and will get you anywhere you want to go for a very small expensive taxis for us!
Our hotel was basic but clean but in a great location just a couple of blocks from Michigan Avenue and the fantastic Grant Park and Millenium Park, which is where we spent our first evening taking in a free open air concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We dined on meat-stuffed ciabattas from Panera and sat on the grass surrounded by hundreds of Chicagoans - many with some very elaborate picnic set-ups.

Due to the jetlag we were up early on Saturday morning and so we headed out to see the city. We took a stroll North up the lake shore path (that would be the shore of Lake Michigan which is so big it just looks like the sea because you can't see the other side) admiring the boats along the way and on up to Navy Pier. For those that don't know, Navy Pier stretches out into Lake Michigan and hosts a number of rides - the Ferris Wheel is a must for great views of the city - restaurants, a conference centre, boat rides and more. We rose the ferris wheel, went on a boat tour and grabbed some lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern & Grill.
After Navy Pier we made our way over to Michigan Avenue and the shops of the Magnificant Mile. At the top end of the Mile is the John Hancock Tower which, though not the tallest building in the city, has arguably the best views - the best being from the ladies restroom! Rather than paying the $15 to visit the observatory on the 94th floor we instead visited the Signature Lounge bar (for free) on the 96th floor and spent the money on a couple of cocktails instead. The lift takes a mere 40 seconds to rise over 1000 feet and the views from the top are indeed spectacular, as are the cocktails!
After hitting a few shops we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a rest before dinner - the rest was indeed necessary as we worked out we'd walked over 16km over the course of the day! We went out for some famous Chicago pizza (Yummy!) and then back to Navy Pier for their weekly firework display.
After the long day we headed off for an early night ready for another day of adventuring in the morning.
Day 1 in Chicago: Millenium Park open air stage, view from the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, view from the Signature Lounge 95th Floor of the John Hancock Centre, The Magnificant Mile
Day 2 began with a leisurely breakfast by the lake and then a short train-ride up to Wrigleyville, the home of Wrigley Field and the Red Sox baseball team. The place was buzzing as there was to be a game on that afternoon but we decided not to go and watch it as we wanted to carry on exploring with the little time we had. We meandered around the neighbourhood, taking the opportunity to wander into the residential areas and peep at a few houses and searching for a few kooky shops mentioned in my Lonely Planet guidebook. Best of all was Uncle Fun's, a strange little shop housing all manner of weird and wonderful toys, books, games, dress-up items and much more. The girl behind the counter was the epitome of 'odd-ball' and delighted in pointing us in the direction of many a random thing.
We made our way back towards 'The Loop' to a short rest before dinner. As it had been Andy's birthday the week before I had taken a recommendation from a colleague and booked us a table at the Smith & Wollensky restaurant. We dined on gigantic steaks and even managed to squeeze in dessert before the restaurant brought over a little birthday treat for Andy (a chocolate cup filled with a delicious chocolate mousse and whipped cream with a candle in it - thankfully they refrained from singing him Happy Birthday!) before we wandered back into the night to admire the city.
Day 2: Wrigley Field, Uncle Fun's Toy Shop, a cool bike rack, the river by night
We were up early again on Monday so decided to go and see Cloud Gate, or as it's affectionately known, 'The Bean', at Millenium Park before everyone else was up. We'd been to see 'the bean' a number of times over the weekend and every time it manages to look different from the last, capturing new views of the city and those that inhabit it. We were lucky that we were 2 of only 6 people there so early to see it glisten in the morning light. 
Again we breakfasted by the lake, drinking in the sun as the first few joggers made their way along the shore path ready to start their day. We didn't have time for much else as we had to check out of the hotel and get Andy off to the airport (I was staying for a few more days for work) but I can definitely say that Chicago is an amazing city; there is lots more to explore than we were able to in our short time and I would love to go back.
Cloud Gate aka The Bean!
So that's our weekend in Chicago. Have you ever been? What was your favourite part?