October In London

Sunday, 23 October 2016

October 2016 in london round up

Sorry, I've been rather quiet on my blog, but October has been a super busy month and living in London usually means there's barely a moment to stop moving. However, all the hard work has finally paid off and I can share some fantastic news with you, the latest blogging events I've been to and what else I got up to in London this October.

1. I Got Back Into Baking #BakedInStyle

October kicked off with a GBBO-inspired baking event*, courtesy of the Joe Bloggers Network which was sponsored by NEFF and Curry's PC World. I was delighted to be invited by them (first time) and joined the team for an afternoon workshop at L'Atelier des Chefs in St. Pauls. 

Together with a handful of food and lifestyle bloggers, we got to make a Hazelnut Torte - a cake that combines all the goodness of the Autumn season. After the baking session, we learnt some tips and tricks on how to improve our photography skills and to "tell" a story with our compositions.

L'atelier des chefs showroom kitchen st. pauls london
hazelnut torte bakedinstyle blogging event

The 5h workshop was a lovely get-together with fellow bloggers and a lot of fun. Though the actual baking came a bit short for my taste, with the main focus on the photography part, the afternoon was a great way to remind me of my passion for baking and it helped me to unwind from the workweek.

2. I Went To The Beauty Bloggers Awards (Though I'm Not A Beauty Blogger) 

The Beauty Bloggers Awards at Olympia Kensington have become a little annual "must" for me and my friend Serene. We usually check out some of the talks and then head over to the main beauty exhibitions to see if we can get a beauty bargain. 

This year, however, I went primarily to hear my friend, beauty blogger Fran, talking about blog photography and how to improve your skills. Serene and I got caught up in the morning over breakfast so I thought I may have missed Fran's talk. Luckily they ran behind schedule and Fran came onto the stage next when we arrived.

beauty blogger fran presenting at beauty bloggers awards

Though slightly nervous beforehand, she did brilliantly. The talk went smoothly and it was very insightful and informative. Fran should do this more often as I loved hearing her tips and her presentation style was casual and easy to follow. 

Alongside with other fellow blogging friends, we cheered when she finished and congratulated her on her talk. This is one of the great things about being part of the UK blogging community and living in London. You can regularly see your friends at random events and it is so easy to catch up with them, as you'll most likely bump into them at another event soon as half of my blogging friends are from London.

3. I've Applied For A New Job (And Got It!)

The second half of the year is usually a more successful period of time for me, characterised by change. I've been a little unhappy with my current job for a while. I felt stuck and trapped in a role that didn't do anything for me bar to give me a paycheck at the end of the month. As the inspirational Liz Ryan would say "my flame [passion] didn't grow", on the contrary, it was diminished by the day and I really felt like I should just give up and put an end to the silent dread every day. I didn't!

In the summer I worked on an escape plan to change this. And it has actually worked! After a long process and a couple of interviews later, I've been offered my dream position. For now, I can't reveal too much, but I am super happy right now and I'm looking forward to starting the role. 

It's in an industry that fits more with my skills and interests, plus I'll be given more responsibilities. I'm still over the moon about the news, and more, the feedback and support I've received from friends and colleagues have been overwhelming. Change is finally happening and I can look forward to a busy and exciting 2017!

4. KitKat Has Opened A Pop-Up Shop In Westfield/Stratford

KitKat follows the Magnum concept and has opened the KitKat Chocolatory, a pop-up store, in Westfield/Stratford. With stores already a massive success in Japan and Australia, London now has its own for a limited period of six weeks. In the store you can create and design your own KitKat bar, choosing a base chocolate and up to three toppings from a list of 16. Personalised packaging included!

KitKat Chocolatory London
white KitKat bar personalised chocolate

The chocolate needs then to set for around 1.5h to be enjoyed. The great thing is that there are no queues. You can walk into the store, design your KitKat via a screen and then return after they've sent you a text to pick up your chocolate. 

There's also the possibility to get your hands on some limited editions such as Bakewell cherry, millionaire's shortbread, lime and meringue or chilli and mint. However, the store has not very convenient opening times for the working folks. It closes at 7:30pm with the "Design your own" part closing one hour before. The price of £7 is quite heavy. You get a perfectly fresh chocolate bar though with some great flavour combinations.

Mine's a white chocolate KitKat with caramelised pistachios, dark cocoa nibbles and honeycomb. YUM!

5. I'm Currently On A Long Break & Will Travel To Rome Soon

I always thought it might be a smart move to work through the first half of the year and then spent the annual leave over the know when the weather is meant to be sunny and warm and the days are longer, so you actually make the most out of the day, instead of getting to bed at 5pm in winter when the sun sets. 

It wasn't such a smart move after all, as we all know summer was non-existent this year. April went, May went, June passed by, and then it was August when I finally had my first escape away from London to a lovely Tenerife holiday. I had 20 days remaining, so I quickly allocated some of them for October and now I'm OOO until November.

It's quite relaxing to just enjoy London for once. Usually, I rush to work and then straight back home. All the fast-paced lifestyle around me makes me forget so easily that I actually live in one of the most exciting cities in the world - actually in my favourite city! 

So far, I've done some long overdue housework, I've been blogging, I previewed Paperchase's recycled new stationery range in collaboration with the London Evening Standard, I've been to my very first wedding, I celebrated a friend's birthday and there's still so much more to come. Tomorrow I'll be heading to the London Zoo and later this week, visit Rome for a few days.

6. Finally: Someone Explained My Camera To Me At The Manfrotto Blogger Event

I was very lucky to attend a photography workshop* organised by Manfrotto. The Italian brand is specialised in photography equipment, think filters, tripods, daylight lamps. All the cool stuff that the professionals have and you could use for your product shots (especially as it gets dark now so quickly in the day).  

manfrotto photography workshop
manfrotto mini tripod

The workshop was specifically designed for bloggers and though with a slight overkill touch of product demonstration and product selling, the event was very useful and informative. Hosted by two photography professionals, they shared their secrets with us. And I'm not talking the usual superficial "blablabla shutter speed here, F-stop there" it was proper hands-on. 

One of the professionals, Eddie, very kindly sat down with me for a good 45minutes explaining my Nikon camera to me and how to adjust the settings. My camera is quite complex and I've got zero clue as I always took shots on the automatic settings (sorry I'm a beginner and sometimes going the way of least resistance is so much easier). 

I feel so much more confident now in using the RAW format and shoot in Manual. Eddie gave me some "homework" on the day and little assignments, so the pictures from the event were all shot in Manual and in Automatic so that I could see the difference on screen at home and learn how to use my camera more effectively.

And let's not forget to mention all the amazing equipment! The daylight lamps were incredibly light-weight and so easy to pick up and move around. The mini tripods were my personal favourite as they fit into every handbag and the powerful LED light allows full-on lighting of your objects for perfect product shoot results. I was so happy to find one of those in my goody bag, so all I need now is to invest in an attachable LED light (hint, hint Christmas wish!). 

October has been an incredible month and I'm sure there's more to come. 

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

*I was invited to the event.

Magazine vs Reality. Autumn Style With Matalan*

Thursday, 6 October 2016

magazine vs reality fashion shoot

Brrrrrr it's cold - that usually means one thing: I have to switch summer with winter clothes and on the way of decluttering I throw away half of my beloved pieces, which results in me going shopping to make up for the lack of fashion in my wardrobe.

So, the question is "Where to stock up"? Having lived in the UK for some time now, I've made the observation that every autumn season there's one retailer that has the absolute "Go-To" collection of the year. The one, that stands out on the High Street for miles. The one, all people will shop and the other fashion houses can only hope they come up with something clever next year.  

Matalan Have Nailed The Autumnal Season 2016

We remember in 2014 it was New Look with their affordable and groundbreaking blanket wrap range (cosy autumn look with the blanket wrap), in 2015 Stradivarius stood out with their bright miniature handbags. My award for outstanding autumn style in 2016, however, goes to Matalan - and that by a mile. Their current range bursts with so many "must-have" items, it is unreal. 

A few weeks back, the lovely team at Matalan had been in touch with me asking if I'd like to check out their new range. Sure! Whilst the PR lady sorted me out with my chosen items, I used the meantime to head over to Matalan's High Street store on Oxford Street, which is literally just down the road from my workplace. I was nosy and couldn't wait for the items to arrive, so the trip down to the store was mainly to further fuel my excitement. The entire range greeted me when I entered the store and so much more.

If you've picked up Look Magazine a few weeks ago (issue from the 12th September 2016 to be more precise), then you may have seen Matalan's ad campaign promoting the AW16/17 collection. I fell immediately in love with the advertised cut out shoulder jumper and it didn't take me long to find it in the store. I've also checked out the other items that were on their way to me and found myself adoring the soft, cosy shawls, Aztec-printed blanket wraps, western-inspired buckle ankle boots and the colour tan in all its variation.

It is amazing how versatile the autumn collection is which celebrates the season in style. With all the warm gilets, jumpers, suede skirts and shearlings, it's safe to say no one has to freeze their toes off this season.

cosy autumn outfit with matalan

The Cosy Autumn Outfit: Magazine Vs Reality

Burgundy's annual revival in Germany as THE Autumn trend colour has been in previous years a bit uninspiring to me. However, as 2016 is the year were red shades and the so-called "bonfire palette" are championed, I can slowly see burgundy growing on me. 

The Matalan shawl has a warm earth tone and is made of a super soft fabric (a wool, acrylic blend). It's so amazing to snuggle up in. Whether you cuddle up at home on the settee or you take it into work - it will give you comfort and that much needed homey feeling.

I have a never-ending crush on pouch bags. There I said it. They remind me of the 18th-century French pompadour, a small pouch worn mainly by the aristocrats. These days they come with cords to tie, cute tassels and gold detailing. I once had one of these but it got stolen in a car burglary, then they disappeared off the High Street and I'm really happy they are coming back this season. 

The Matalan version has a warm tan colour which really goes well with the shoes and suede skirt. The shade also picks up the warmth of the shawl which makes the outfit coherent. Inside the bag, there's enough space for your compact camera, keys, phone and travel card. The tie opening and closure is uncomplicated and easy to use.  

I was very sceptical at first of the combination of block heel and peep-toe when I previewed the range and was allowed to pick a pair from. I usually try to play it safe and go with similar styles that I already have in my wardrobe, so this time I gambled and felt adventurous. 

The colour basically sold the pair to me, as I'm a lover of tan. Despite the killer heel, these Ghillie boots are so comfy and stylish. They are feminine and the stitching on the side applies a boho-touch. If you've fallen in love with my boots, you can find them alongside some other gorgeous styles over at the Matalan footwear section.

fashion cosy knittwear shawl matalan
ghillie block heel sandals matalan
Karma Moments JewelleryBox necklace
autumn outfit of the day styling post

Fashion Magazines tend to gloss over products A LOT. You know the kind of editing and retouching when you see an item which looks amazing on the model but on you it's kind of a different story. I hope I was able to show you with today's post, that it doesn't have to be the case every time. 

I've fallen in love with the look Matalan is currently advertising and I'm certainly not disappointed with the style and quality of the clothing. I've even taken the idea further and included a cosy knitwear and some statement heels instead of the black ankle boots.

The outfit underneath the shawl features Matalan's cut out jumper in combination with my suede skirt from Only. The mixture of muted, warm colours and different fabrics make the outfit interesting.  I find all parts of the outfit amazing and they speak for themselves. 

You could easily just wear the jumper with a pair of black trousers, or team up the skirt with a uni-coloured shirt and they would still function as the centrepiece of your look. In combination, the entire outfit is simply eye-catching. That's why I kept it fairly simple accessory-wise with my black belt from Stradivarius and my Karma Moments Necklace from JewelleryBox.

autumn fashion styling post with matalan
pouch bag fashion post matalan
Matalan promotional picture papaya cut out jumper
Matalan Promo Picture
Matalan cut out jumper papaya fashion post

Here's What I'm Wearing:

Burgundy Shawl*: Matalan (current AW 16/17, £10)
Ankle Boots*: Block Heel Ghillie Sandals, Matalan (current AW 16/17, £20)
Bag*: Matalan (current AW 16/17, £)
Jumper: Matalan (current AW 16/17, £14)
Suede Skirt: Only (AW 15/16, £45)
Necklace*: Karma Moments, JewelleryBox (current AW 16/17, £18)
Belt: Stradivarius (AW 15/16, £10)

Here you go, my take on the Magazine version of Matalan's current AW collection. 

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time,

*PR sample

Jewellerybox Karma Moments Launch

Monday, 3 October 2016

jewellerybox karma moments launch party

JewelleryBox is a British accessory brand that has specialised in affordable costume jewellery. The range features mostly dainty necklaces, charms, bracelets and earrings. On the market since 2014 and straight from the beginning a super blogger-friendly brand, I had the chance to see the brand growing on my blogging journey. Recently, JewelleryBox has introduced a new range to their collection called "Karma Moments" which I previewed during their launch party a few days ago.

cupcakes at the JewelleryBox Karma Moments event
fower arrangement at the Karma Moments launch from JewelleryBox

Introducing Karma Moments, Jewellerybox's Latest Personalised Collection

Karma Moments, a necklace range, will be their latest addition to their jewellery collection. The pieces are designed to capture a special moment, episode, event or chapter of your life. They are inspired by life and Karma so they feature lucky charms in combination with a circle, that frames the moment. 

Depending on what you're after, you can create very personalised jewellery that's unique and individual with a special meaning. Some come with your initial, birthstone and the tree of life, others can be engraved with a personalised message. 

As personalisation has been important and established itself over the last two years (read more in my discussion on fashion and the personalisation trend), those necklaces are a highly thoughtful present for someone special or a unique moment in life.

JewelleryBox Karma Moments Necklace with daisy charm
JewelleryBox Karma Moments initial and tree of life charm

At the launch party, I caught up with brand representative Gemma, who's always a joy to meet with her positive and lively self. It was also great to see Scarlett again who is known for her incredible blogging events. To my surprise, fellow bloggers Zarina and Alina also attended the event and it was a fantastic evening having fun with those two.

The highlight of the evening was to design our very own Karma Moment necklace. Michelle, a trained jewellery maker, explained the techniques of putting together jewellery with the help of pliers first and then it was our turn. 

Jewellery making is definitely a very fiddly matter, that requires a loooooot of patience, fine-tuning and is definitely not to underestimate! Luckily Michelle assisted and helped me to get my necklace together, otherwise, I would still be there trying to get the small dainty rings and charms adjusted. Embarrassing pictures to follow:

putting together jewellery, highly concentrated
Photo Credit: JewelleryBox
putting together jewellery at the Karma Moments launch party
Photo Credit: JewelleryBox
jewellery making with pliers
blogging friends at the JewelleryBox event
Photo Credit: JewelleryBox
It was a wonderful evening with a great atmosphere. I spent time with my blogging friends and we had so much fun making our necklaces (especially as I'm super clumsy and we all couldn't stop laughing at my poor attempts at jewellery making!). 

This is why I love living in London so much, no matter how exhausting the workweek might be, when you get invited to an event and you meet your friends and you have a great time, this makes up for everything. I'm super happy with my necklace that features my birthstone (June), the tree of life and initial - wonderful memorabilia from that evening.

Karma Moments Photo Shooting
Photo Credit: JewelleryBox
blogger friends at the JewelleryBox Karma Moments launch event
Photo Credit: JewelleryBox
The Karma Moments range is available from £18 onwards.

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time, 

*PR sample
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