Sunday, 1 January 2012

a secret passage...

Having lived in Islington for nearly 2 years now I must say it is one of the nicest areas of London in my opinion. Although I know the area quite well there are hidden treasures around every corner which makes it a great place to discover on a Saturday afternoon. I love walking from Highbury and Islington down Upper Street to Angel which is full of wonderful cafes, restaurants and boutiques. One of my favourite restaurants is the Turkish Cafe Galipoli which serves gorgeous authentic and reasonably priced dishes. I would really recommend the meze platters which you can share over Turkish coffee or mint tea on a lazy weekend. 

One of the best parts of Islington is Camden Passage, a street running parallel to Upper Street. With a number of markets containing trinkets and jewellery and lots of vintage shops and cafes this is one of London's hidden treasures that you cannot miss. It is also home to some art shops, frozen yoghurt parlour and luxury chocolate sellers. One of my favourite places is The Breakfast Club which serves amazing food, smoothies, juices, coffee and cakes in a shabby-chic environment. It is a great place to eat for Sunday brunch and a chat with friends to soak up your sins from the night before. I look forward to more trips around this part of London soon.

What are your favourite places in London? Have you explored Camden Passage?

Hasta pronto!

Em x

happy new year...

Happy New Year! I hope that your celebrations to welcome in 2012 were fantastic and you're not feeling as delicate as I am due to all the festivities and indulgence. I saw in the new year at a house party in East London with my friends and boyfriend. The party's theme was white which was a pretty nice change to the normal fancy dress/black tie themes of other parties however it did cause a bit of panic when I realised my white summer dresses weren't really appropriate for the event. So after a mad rush around Oxford Street I found the perfect white (maybe cream!) lace dress for only £35 at River Island.  I love River Island at the moment - every time I go in there are so many things that tempt me to splash my cash.

I changed the belt to a patent black and gold one which I thought dressed it up a bit and wore gold accessories and a pair of black suede wedges which I got in the sales at New Look for only £12. I love this dress because it's very classic but the sweetheart neckline and skater style skirt gives it some originality. It seemed to be a hit as I got so many compliments throughout the night and a few people asked me where it was from so I pointed them in the right direction. Luckily the dress also survived the night unharmed even with champagne popping everywhere and everyone had fun. Today in true New Year's Day style I have spent all day recovering in my PJs with my flatmates and some yummy food from Deliverance whilst watching Great Expectations - bliss. 

How did you spend your New Year's Eve and day? Wishing you all the best for 2012.

Hasta pronto!

Em x

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

2012 goals

So 2012 is nearly upon us which is a rather scary thought seeing as 2011 sped by in a flash. This (new) year I really want to set some goals as I have been working for a few years now and should be growing up and setting down some aspirations for the future months. This list may change and things may be added as the year progresses but I think it's important to set your ideas down so that you can see your accomplishments and help to motivate yourself! So here is my short but important list of goals for 2012:

1. Rearrange my wardrobe
2. Use the gym in my complex more
3. Blog more!
4. Become more adventurous with the food that I cook on a day-to-day basis
5. Try a new hobby and stick to it!
6. Complete most job related tasks in work
7. Start saving for South America
8. Stop biting my nails

So I look forward to crossing off these as the year goes on. What are your goals for 2012?

Hasta pronto!

Em x

Thursday, 29 September 2011

the ultimate coat for winter...

After realising that my old black winter coat was a bit past it when I took it out of my wardrobe a few days ago and one of the seams has split down the front I resigned myself to looking for a replacement. I still have an old brown and cream dog-toothed coat from 5 years ago that is still in pretty good nick only it's a little on the large size. I really wanted to find a warm and classic coat that would last but at the same time I knew this wouldn't be a mean feat. 

I was determined to stay away from black which can be as depressing as winter itself as you leave the house in the pitch black returning only to the same shade in the evening. I had decided on either purple, teal or red but was put off by many of the examples I saw around. There was a beautiful coat in Zara which I was nearly persuaded to buy but I wasn't particularly sold on the double-breast style. 

That was when trawling through the ASOS website I found the most perfect coat that I fell in love with in an instant. You know when you see something and know that you won't find anything else that even matches its beauty. I looked at the price - £90 and thought... here goes nothing... next day delivery... order confirmed. When it arrived in the post the next day I wasn't disappointed. It is described as a lace collar wool princess coat featuring a classic princess shape with covered button closure, pleats from the waist with a flared skirt and an ornate lace collar. It is such a beautiful design in a classic claret colour which I think is a lot more sophisticated than the typical red. I also love the soft red silky lining inside. The coat is made by Darling, a London based designer, who according to their lookbook:

"offer a timeless approach, combining quintessential English design with unique detailing and affordable luxury. Look to lace edging and crochet trims to add a distinct sense of vintage femininity, as intricate pearl beading and sequins embellish pretty blouses, delicate knits and floral print dresses"

Their collection can be bought on their own website or some other products are available at ASOS. I love their vintage inspired look and although they are not as cheap as some other stores their pieces are very well crafted and are really great to invest in. Here are a few of my favourite items ranging from around £55.00-70.00.

I hope you like my new discovery and take a look at all their wonderful pieces. At the moment they are offering at £20 discount for all first orders over £150 so go and treat yourself! Now I may sound crazy but I can't wait for the cold weather to start wearing my coat and feeling like a princess!

Hasta pronto!

Em x

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

where east meets westfield....

Westfield Shepherds Bush has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. It was the place that you knew you could rely on to find that perfect item of clothing on a rainy day and save all the hassle of going to lots of different areas to shop. Moreover, it was a great place to meet friends in the restaurants, cafes and bars as it had so much choice under one roof.

Now the only thing better than the aforementioned place is it's younger and (what I consider) hipper younger sister - Westfield Stratford City which opened last week. It is conveniently located right next to Stratford Station (one stop on the train to Liverpool Street) and by the Olympic Park. The fact that this new shopping centre has opened up right next to my work may be both a blessing and a curse in disguise as I can kiss goodbye to a large part of my pay check every month but welcome lots of beautiful fashion to my wardrobe!

One of the best things about this new Westfield is the Forever 21 shop. I had heard a lot of hype on the internet about this American brand and had been anxiously awaiting the opening of Westfield (there is another recently opened branch on Oxford Street). It has been described by many as the new H&M however I don't fully agree. After visiting the shop I found that the clothes seem to be more on trend and quirky than H&M. Sometimes I find with H&M that there is nothing in the shop from time to time that takes my fancy. Forever 21 was a different story. There was a whole styles section of the shop that I could have transferred back home as it was completely me. So I have to say that for me the only similarity between the two shops are the prices (which is not a bad thing!). I love their vintage-inspired section and was really impressed with their accessories and shoes selection which are gorgeous and cheap! Check out their website as they deliver all over the UK.

Last Sunday I went back to meet a friend for lunch and we ended up having a lovely day at Zumo juice bar and Yo Sushi as well as looking in a few shops! Westfield Stratford is a cool piece of architectural design, it has the biggest window in Europe and an amazing water feature. It also offers huge versions of all your favourite high street shops. In fact, it has a massive Primark and the biggest M&S I have ever seen.  It's so tempting to pass by every night and pick up something before heading home on he overground. I supposed I should exercise some self-control! Make sure to visit soon as there are still lots of opening offers at the moment including the Look magazine pop-up shop.

Hasta pronto!

Em x

how to wear - the playsuit...

So I used to think that playsuits were weird, only suited people without any curves and were going to go out of fashion almost straight away when they first appeared a few years ago. How times have changed! Now there are so many really cute and vintage inspired playsuits which are great to wear in this Autumnal weather with thick black or (if you're more adventurous) coloured/patterned tights. 

I recently bought this gorgeous black tulip print playsuit from River Island, who I am really impressed with at the moment. I love the way you can dress it up with shoe boots and a boyfriend blazer or down with loafers and a cardigan. This is the outfit that I wore to a friend's houseparty in Finchley Road last weekend. It's classic and simple and I accessorised it with chunky gold bracelets borrowed from my flatmate and gold and emerald owl earrings. I would also recommend a great new shoe favourite of mine, Kate Kanzier. I had read about her shoes in other blogs recently and decided to buy a pair for my new trusty work shoes. I decided on these patent leather-look loafers. At £30 they are a bargain and seem like they will be long-lasting too, check out her website here

Hasta pronto!

Em x

spain: part 1 - barcelona...

I had been so excited about re-visiting Barcelona, what I think might be my favourite city (after London) and I wasn't let down. It has to be said that after a lot of stress (a 7:05am flight from Gatwick is not ideal on a Monday morning!) I made it to Girona Airport and made my way by coach to Barcelona city. BCN feels like no other city to me; It's cosmopolitan, full of amazing architecture and has a really good vibe. When I arrived the weather was a perfect 28 degrees so I didn't feel like I was roasting my skin whilst walking through the all-so familiar winding neighbourhood of the Eixample with my excessively filled suitcase. I was staying with an old friend from my Erasmus days who still lived in the city and who I found to be literally living at the back of my old apartment block, an amazing coincidence which made all the memories of my year in BCN flood back. I did have to wipe away a little tear as I stopped at her front door and took it all in before ringing the buzzer. 

My friend and I chatted away like we'd never been apart for the last 3 years and after having a nap we went out to meet her Catalan boyfriend for coffee. Now I have to say I am rather jealous of my friend who is now more or less fluent in Spanish and Catalan. It was funny having a three way conversation in Spanish with her boyfriend whilst talking to her in English and her talking to him in Catalan. I had also forgotten how much tastier and cheaper Spanish coffee is; particularly over ice in the hot weather. I knew that from the first sip I would be forking out a few more €1.20s during my trip! 

A few hours later and our other friend arrived from Liverpool completing our little reunion. In true Barcelona style we decided to celebrate by going out for a few copas. I must admit I am not a big beer fan, however, I will concede that drinking beer in Spain is almost a necessity as it is just so refreshing in the blazing heat. So, whilst in the mood to reminisce about the good old days we ended up in our old haunt L'Ovella Negra (the black sheep), a relaxed pub/bar off Las Ramblas and popular with tourists and locals a-like. There you can drink a jarra of beer or una clara (beer with lemon fanta) and are given a bowl of popcorn to enjoy alongside for free (a budget tapa). I can't count how many times I have been to this place on my fingers nor my toes but I still love it and recommend this bar to anyone visiting Barcelona as a good place to start a night out or for a chilled evening catch-up.

For the next few days we made the most of the sun by wandering the streets, eating al-fresco and going to the beach and parks. It was really nice to see that finally the monument in the Parc de la Ciutadella had finally been restored and was no longer covered in horrible scaffolding (another reminder of just how long I'd been away for). After a lot of shopping in the sales and ramblings in the Barri Gotic we arrived at Carrer d'Avinyo a street made famous by Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (representing some of his lady-friends from one of the brothels on the street). Although at first sight this area seems quite run-down and a little back-street-ish, during the day there really is nothing to worry about even if you are a solo traveller. There are plenty of boutiques, cool sweet/pastry shops, cafes and a gem of a restaurant: Sukur. The menu del dia with bread and wine at this beautifully decorated Mediterranean restaurant sets you back a mere €10 (VAT included) and gives you the choice of 4 options for starter, main and desert. I went for Spanokopita with hummus and bread, chicken with lemon and rosemary potatoes and greek yoghurt with walnuts. I have to say that I am quite knowledgable when it comes to Greek cooking due to having lots of Greek friends and have tasted traditional Greek cuisine cooked by their mamas before. The food here was a pleasant surprise as it was both extremely tasty and authentic and great quality for a menu of the day selection at this price. 

So my time in Barcelona was coming to an end as I had to get back for all the Summer weddings. However, I couldn't leave without experiencing one of my favourite things about BCN - the nightlife. I found myself on a few crazy nights out in some really cool clubs, a stock exchange bar and a secret underground bar to name a few before heading back to London. Now I'm sure you don't need me to recommend Barcelona as an amazing place to visit but hopefully my stories will give you an insight into the less-touristy side of a city that I am in love with. I can't wait to go back soon!

Hasta pronto!

Em x