Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Party Frocks and Motel Rocks

It's that time of year again. I have my first Christmas party on Friday. Far too early, I know. It's a work department meal and I wrongly assumed that I'd be fine to just wear what I'd worn to work that day. Turns out its an annual tradition for everyone to glam up in the loos after work so looks like someone has no time to buy a new dress! If I did, here is what I would be spending my pay cheque on:



I love skater dresses - anything with a nipped in waist! This would be perfect for a work party as its sparkly but still demure enough to wear with your colleagues. £55 from Oasis.



You can't go wrong with an LBD. This one references the gothic/Victorian trend and I know I'd wear it way beyond the party season. £35 from ASOS.



Christmas parties are the perfect opportunity to break out the sequins. I love how the long sleeves make this dress stand out from the usual party dress. I'd pair it with black tights for a work Christmas party and hot pink tights the rest of the time! £58 from Motel.



Just for tonight, the lovely folk at Motel are offering 20% off so the sequin dress above would be just £46.40. There's also a whole section of 2 for £50 dresses so that should be a good start on getting sorted for all those Christmas parties coming up.

I'm off to shop my own wardrobe for Friday night but do let me know what your perfect party dress would be!
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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Foodie Heaven: Awana

Last weekend I lunched at Awana with my parents. We all agreed that it was an amazing meal so this is my little attempt at a restaurant review. This was my third visit to Awana. The restaurant comes up on Groupon quite frequently and every time I've been its been with a Groupon voucher. I paid £26 for a three course lunch for two so we also picked a few dishes from the a la carte menu as there were three of us.

After hungrily demolishing the Malaysian crackers on our table, I had squid from the Groupon menu to start:

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This was really yummy, the squid was perfectly cooked and the dipping sauce was nice and spicy.

My mum had seafood tempura from the a la carte menu:

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This was a huge portion so I stole a tempura scallop! My mum had never had tempura before and really enjoyed this.

For our mains, my mum and I had king prawn vermichelli noodles. My dad had the daily special but unfortunately started eating it before I could take a picture!

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This was quite similar to my favourite yaki udon from Wagamama but I preferred the thinner noodles. This was a really generous portion and was so filling.

For dessert, my parents had the chocolate mousse trio from the Groupon menu:

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I had a typical Malaysian dessert from the a la carte menu:

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This was so good and really reminded me of the types of dessert I had when travelling in Japan. The base was adzuki beans in caramel, topped with crushed ice, coconut sauce and the green tapioca on top.

The service at Awana is great, attentive but not pushy and we weren't rushed out of the restaurant once we'd finished our meal. The prices on the a la carte menu are quite reasonable considering the quality of the food and the location of the restaurant (between South Ken and Sloane Square) - around £8 for a starter, £15 for a main and £6 for a dessert.

The food is full of amazing flavours and a little on the spicey side. It's all presented beautifully and there is a webcam in the kitchen linked to a TV screen in the bar area so you can see the chef at work! The menu has a lot of choice and there's a while section dedicated to vegetarian and vegan food which is great if you're dining with vegetarians and want to offer them something a little more exciting than a margarita pizza.

I will definitely be visiting Awana again, Groupon voucher or not!

Have you tried any Malaysian food?
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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Take Me To The Fashion Aisle

Last week I attended the Clothing At Tesco spring/summer launch at the Oxo Tower. After a day at work suffering from the "winter lurgy" that's been going around lately it was lovely to see the Oxo Tower transformed into a glimpse of spring/summer 2012 (even if there was a Christmas tree and crackers in the corner!).

I've never really looked at supermarket clothing before but after seeing some of the pieces on show, I think that might be about to change. I loved the vintage-inspired dresses and accessories and there were so many beautiful pieces that no one would ever believe were from a supermarket. The collection can also be bought online which is great if, like me, you don't live anywhere near a large Tesco store or don't want to actually buy your clothing next to the baked beans aisle.

We were each given a tag to tie to our favourite piece. I chose a cropped suit jacket which would be perfect for work but unlike other suit pieces wouldn't make me look like I'd dressed up in my mother's (or father's) work clothes. A bloggers' event wouldn't be complete without obligatory cupcakes which along with some retro pink lemonade constituted my dinner for the night. Oh, how Carrie Bradshaw.

Here are a few of my favourite things from the collection:

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Cropped jackets, polka dot shoes, beautiful lace dress, summer brights and a cupcake.

Are you a fan of supermarket fashion?
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Monday, 21 November 2011

Pink And Green Should Be Seen

Apologies for the awful post title. I couldn't resist. Moving swiftly on to the outfits:

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Lace tshirt: M&S, skirt: M&S, dress: Next

After a little "laundry crisis" this week (i.e. I couldn't be bothered to do the laundry or take things to the dry-cleaners) I had to dig a little deeper into my working wardrobe. I found the bright, colourful clothing that until now I'd been too scared to wear. Because you can only wear black or grey in an office, right?

Wrong! I don't know why people are so scared of colour in the workplace - there is no rule saying "thou shall only wear grey or black" but wearing colour to work is still seen as daring. Hopefully these outfits will be the start of a little more colour creeping into my work wear like Harriet's gorgeous orange dress.

Do you shy away from colour or is your wardrobe a rainbow of shades?
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Friday, 18 November 2011

What's Better Than A New Dress?

...two new dresses, obviously. Last week for work I broke out two new dresses. I need to get used to the fact that I soon won't have anything new to wear and that buying a new dress every week is both unnecessary and terrible for my bank balance. But, for now, lets just bask in the joy of wearing something for the first time!

My first dress is from good old M&S. I love anything that nips in at the waist and this dress is perfect for smarter days as its probably the longest dress in my working wardrobe. I'm not really used to wearing this length but it felt nice to have a change and not to have to work about wearing something inappropriately short:

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My second dress might just be my favourite dress in my wardrobe (for now). I purchased this last weekend for £24.99 from Tk Maxx in South Kensington. The label inside is a Topshop label and after I bought it, I popped into Topshop next door and saw the exact same dress for £46. Strange. I'm asking Father Christmas for it in every other colour if it goes into the sale:

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How often do you treat yourself to new clothes?

I try to be restrained but I probably end up buying a couple of new things each month...oops.
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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Last week: See Africa Differently & Motel Rocks/Glossybox

I was invited to two very different but equally fabulous events last week.

On Wednesday I headed to Piccadilly for See Africa Differently at the very cool offices of 1000 Heads. The event celebrated all things positive about Africa - the food, culture, music and emerging talent from the continent.

I sampled some delicious African food, met an amazingly talented African designer, Jose Hendo, and took away a goodie bag containing some fair trade chocolate:

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It was lovely to catch-up with Sarah, Hannah and Reena and to meet Tinuke. Big thanks to Holly for the invite!

The following day I headed to the Motel Rocks/Glossybox event just behind Topshop Oxford Circus. The event was so busy that I didn't manage to take too many pictures but it was lovely to meet so many bloggers, see the gorgeous new Motel collection and try my first ever red velvet cupcake - complete with Glossybox emblem!

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We were all invited to choose a piece from the new collection. No surprises for guessing that I chose a dress. It was so hard to make my mind up on what one to choose...I'd have loved any of these ones:







The dress I actually ended up choosing isn't on the website but I shall definitely be posting about it when I receive it.

What would you have chosen?
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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Time Flies

It only feels like a couple of weeks ago that I was sunbathing in the October heatwave. Now I can't go anywhere without hearing Christmas music and it feels like winter is creeping up on us. Dark by 4pm, um, no thanks! This time last year I was travelling in Australia so luckily missed these dark, cold months. This year, I have been:

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Going to football matches - I'm hardly the world's biggest football fan but recently I've seen a local club (Stevenage Borough) and a famous club (Arsenal) play. The matches couldn't have been more different but I oddly enjoyed both of them a lot!

Rummaging - the American Apparel Flea Market was a few weeks ago now but it was definitely a memorable experience.

Enjoying Tibits' winter menu - Tibits is one of my favourite restaurants and I love how they've updated their menu to make it less salad-y and more wintery. Still as yummy as ever.

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Experimenting with false nails - I wore these to the Aussie-versary bash and loved habing long nails for the weekend. Soaking them off on a Sunday night was not so fun.

Eating healthy and not-so-healthy food - I went for dinner at Saf for the first time and had the most amazing raw sushi platter. This tasted so good and all the raw veggies in it really felt like they were doing my body good too. On the less healthy front, I did enjoy this trio of mini-desserts at a dinner a couple of weeks ago. The mini mango pannacotta was especially good!

I've also been trying to embrace autumn dressing/casual clothing. I'm not particularly good at layering and dressing casually. I feel much more like "me" in a dress and heels but such attire is not always appropriate (especially for the aforementioned football matches) so here's my attempt at layering:

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Hat: Primark, Jacket: vintage via Grandma, Scarf: vintage via Grandma, Jumper: M&S, Shorts: Topshop, Tights: John Lewis, Boots: Office

I've also been trying to keep my Chictopia page updated and have had a little layout change with some new pages on the left where I've grouped together some of my older posts.

So that's a quick round up of what I've been up to lately!

What have you been up to over the last few weeks?
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Friday, 11 November 2011

Having A Ball

Last week I had a ball to attend. And only 30 minutes after work to get ready for it. Spiral wand + red lipstick + a tried and tested party dress = ball ready in half an hour. Ok, so I didn't have time to do my nails and had set my alarm for 6am that morning so that I could have some quality time with my epilator but I was still quite pleased with myself for getting ready so fast. I do miss the days when I could spend the whole afternoon getting ready for an evening out but at least I know that if I get any last minute ball invites I won't have to turn them down for fear of not getting ready in time.

The major downside to the Cinderella transformation sans Fairy Godmother? My flat looked like an explosion of make-up, hair products and discarded shoes when I hobbled through the door at 1am. Now if only I could tidy up in 30 minutes...

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How long does it take you to get ready for an evening event?
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Monday, 7 November 2011

Birthday Benefits

I know, I know. My birthday was ages ago but I still haven't got around to blogging one of my lovely birthday presents, bad me. One of my friends bought me these little Benefit goodies:

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They're Real! mascara and Ultra Shines lipgloss.

They're Real! has been all over the blog world lately but I thought that I would pitch in with my verdict on it too, especially as I now have a whole page of mascara reviews.

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Firstly, the brush of this mascara is HUGE. This terrified me a little at first as I'm quite clumsy and haven't had an awful lot of success with big brushes in the past. I have naturally long lashes and this combined with a big brush often results in lovely black mascara-y blobs all around my eyes. Not good when I'm already running late for work.

This brush and I have, however, been getting along just fine. I think it is because its a rubber brush which seems to give more control than a bristle one. The packaging recommends firstly holding the wand horizontally and then holding it vertically and stroking it though the lashes to give both length and volume. I have to admit that I don't do this and apply it just like a normal mascara but the little spokes on the end of the wand are great for tacking those tiny corner lashes. I find that defining these lashes makes a huge difference to how dramatic my lashes look and also opens up my eyes which hopefully helps disguise the fact that a) I'm not getting enough sleep at the moment and b) I spend 9+ hours per day staring at a computer screen.

This mascara lasts all day without flaking and smudging but seeing as it costs £18.50 (around three times what I'd usually pay for a mascara) I wouldn't expect anything less. It removes easily too which is always a plus.

Would I purchase this?

Yes, I think I would. Despite the rather high price tag, I really like this mascara. I think it's a million times better than Bad Gal Lash and I love how it doesn't require loads of coats to give a dramatic look. I like big, bold lashes every single day and this is a great way of getting that look without too much faff.

Have you tried "They're Real!" What do you think of it?


I know I haven't talked about the lip gloss but I have to confess that I haven't actually gotten around to using it yet. I've gone from one-time "beauty blogger" to "just use the exact same products every single day" but I promise I will review it soon!
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Saturday, 5 November 2011

Happy Aussie-versary!

Last weekend I put on my party dress and headed to the Aussie-versary party hosted by Aussie Haircare. It was a great night - as well as catching up with the other Aussie Angels and the lovely Holly, I had my hair and make-up done and ate lots of yummy canapes served by shirtless "Aussie hunks". The venue, the rooftop bar of The Century Club was amazing, even if the open roof did make it a little chilly!

Here's what I wore:

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Dress: Next (sale purchase a couple of years ago)

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I tried out false nails for the first time. My natural nails are awful so it was a strange but fun experience having these super-long talons. Even if I couldn't type, text or pick things up for the entire weekend I was sad to have to dissolve them off on Sunday evening. These were by Elegant Touch, picked up for £1 in the John Lewis sale last Christmas.

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The lovely Harriet and I.

I only remembered that I had my camera with me at the end of the night but all the pictures I took were really blurry.

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I had my hair and make-up done at the event, soft curls with smokey eyes and glossy pink lips. I usually go for "statement lipstick" so I was surprised by how different I looked with a more natural lip shade.

Thank you again, Aussie for a wonderful night! I came home with very achy feet and some more Aussie products to try out. Here's to the next Aussome gathering!
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Thursday, 3 November 2011

Lush Times: Happy Blooming, Sugar Scrub & Geo Phyzz

I recently treated myself to a small and rather restrained Lush haul:

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I purchased a bath bomb and a bath melt as I now have a bath in my flat and can actually make use of these products! I also purchased the sugar scrub as I was in need of a new body scrub.

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Happy Blooming. This bath melt smells super sweet, I'd describe it as a "retro cherry" fragrance - a bit like the smell of Cherry Chapstick. I got three baths out of this melt which makes it good value for money. The melt turned my bath water into a lovely milky pink and it felt really moisturising and soothing for my skin. The fragrance lasted well both on my skin and in the bathroom.
I'd recommend this for dry winter skin. I used it for a bath in the evening and my skin still felt soft the next morning.

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Geo Phyzz. This little bath bomb has a really fresh, alpine scent. It's not at all sweet-smelling like most of the other bath bombs and has a high salt content which made my bath feel really refreshing. I got two baths out of this and it's only £2.50. The salty freshness was such a nice treat for my aching leg muscles so I'd definitely recommend this for post running baths. My skin felt nice and soft afterwards too. This is definitely going on my re-purchase list.

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Sugar Scrub. This bright green scrub also has a fresh, alpine scent. I think since I started running I'm much more drawn to fresh smelling bath products rather than sweet, floral ones. This feels really grainy and coarse, the first time I used it I ended up with scratches all over my legs as I didn't wet it enough and was a bit over enthusiastic in my scrubbing! I only use this on my legs, knees and elbows as the scrub is very coarse but it does a great job on dry skin and hopefully it will help prevent ingrown hairs on my legs. To make it gentler you can break of a small piece and mix it with shower gel which I need to try for a softer scrub. I wouldn't recommend this for very delicate skin but if you want a really grainy scrub then it definitely does the job - just be gentle at first!

What Lush products do I need to try next?
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