Saturday, 22 November 2014

Taste Of London Winter at Tobacco Dock

This weekend, Taste of London hits the Tobacco Dock for their winter season. Last year was a great event, and this year it's even bigger and better! This is the place to sample some new and upcoming brands, along with some more of the well known. It's also the perfect occasion to buy some Christmas presents for loved ones. There is something for everyone; from alcoholic smoothies to rock star cheeses,  fat burning chocolate to even some mulled cider hand wash!



I love that for most of the brand stands you can try before you buy. As a lot of these companies are quite small, Taste is a fantastic opportunity to talk to the people behind the product and get the lowdown on exactly what they offer, and maybe even get some special discounts. I always feel more inclined to buy from the brands with extra engagement and friendliness. Here were some of my favourites from tonight.

Sinful Smoothies

"This is everything I've ever dreamed of", were my exact words as I spotted this stand. With a tagline that says 'The naughty love child of fruit and alcohol' who could resist. They weren't lying either! These babies were delicious. It's a tough decision but if I had to choose, I'd say the orange & mango was my favourite. I'm looking forward to seeing what other flavours the guys at Sinful Smoothie might offer in the near future. They're also offering 10% off when you use the code SUNFUL10 to order over at VIP Bottles.

Vedett

This beer company instantly caught my eye with their retro packaging. I love the arty feel to their design (just have a play around with their website) and it feels a bit more female friendly, though it's not particularly aimed at either gender. I sampled their extra ordinary IPA and extra blond, which I found more refreshing to my taste buds. They're also offering you, yes you, a chance to even feature on one of their bottle labels, so hurry up and strike your best Warhol pose!

Cocoa Cabin

Don't you just love when you feel a sudden connection with someone you've just met? This is exactly what happened when I followed the sweet smell of hot chocolate and got chatting to these girls. We found we have a mutual love for all things nautical (complete with matching anchor tattoos), and of course hot chocolate. Zara & Mariam told me how popular hot chocolate used to be back in the early 18th century, so they're now looking to 'bring back London's favourite drink'. People tend to think of hot chocolate as a pre-bedtime beverage which makes you feel sleepy and ready for a good nights sleep, but these girls use only dark chocolate (with added white if you so wish) as it contains more caffeine than milk chocolate, so will keep you slightly more energized. Zara and Mariam were sure proof of this, chatting away with me, though they had been stood at their stall all day, running on their own concoction of this scrumptious drink. Although they don't seem to have a website set up just yet, you can follow them on Twitter so you can 'watch this space'!

Brittains Vodka

I was so happy to find this vodka brand again as we had tasted the butterscotch flavour last year but didn't get a chance to go back to actually buy a bottle, but today was the day! Brittains offer over 10 other flavours, including Black Forest, Chilli Chocolate and Strawberry & Rhubarb. We'd tasted some other flavoured vodka brands, but this one definitely left the sweetest taste in our mouths.

Buttercup Cake Shop

By far the cutest cakes we saw all night (be sure to check out the Grinch cake further down the page!). The Buttercup Cake Shop can be found at both Westfield shopping centres, or you can even order online. With an array of flavours and designs (or maybe design your own), it's difficult to pick. I'd recommend the sticky toffee. They also offer workshops in cake decoration; sounds like a fab idea for a Christmas party!

Here's what else I spotted around the event.














So if you're stuck for something to do this weekend, I really do recommend heading over to Taste of London Winter at the Tobacco Dock. This is my second year at this event, and it just seems to be getting even better with each visit. Bring on next year!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Merry Thriftmas - The Guide to Christmas Party Outfits on a Budget

I have been selected to take part in a challenge set by VoucherBox, to find a jingle-worthy Christmas party outfit online for under £75. Well of course my reply was "challenge accepted!". I'm always up for a bargain hunt, especially when it involves celebrating my favourite part of the year.

First thing's first, I'm going to share my number 1 saving secret. When I'm buying anything online, I check Topcashback to see if there is any cashback or special saving codes for the sites I am planning to buy from. The percentage of cashback is usually quite small, but if you're a big online buyer (like me), over time you'll have enough in your Topcashback account to buy a new pair of sparkly shoes (and gain some more cashback!). I urge you all to sign up. I use it for everything, from fashion purchases on ASOS, to concert tickets on Ticketmaster, and even my online grocery shopping.



Another little money saving trick I have for online buying, especially for fashion, is to do a simple internet search for store voucher codes, and more often than not, this lovely challenge host VoucherBox, will show up in the results. All year round different brands offer different codes for anything from 10% off to free next day delivery. It's worth a quick search before you buy as it's always really frustrating finding a discount after you've already made your purchase. I also find it is helpful to subscribe to the mailing lists of your favourite stores so you get emails whenever there are special discounts available.



Now, back to finding something special for the Christmas party on a budget. There are a few ways to go about this. As it's Christmas and you'll want to stand out, it might be worth while spending a majority of your budget on one statement item of clothing, along with cheaper subtle accessories, like so...




This simple black Monsoon dress with embellished neckline and cuffs, means you can worry less about jewellery. Go glam with these pink New Look heels.  You can get 2 for 1 on all jewellery from New Look too! Add a decorative cocktail ring and some colourful stud earrings. Or if you're not a heels type of girl, how about these mint green studded flats from ASOS. Add a simple pink clutch to break down the black a bit more. Both of these options also come with free delivery. Monsoon offer free click & collect from your nearest store and so does New Look with a spend of over £19.99. You can also get free delivery from ASOS when you spend £15 or more.

Another way of going about this is to even out your spending, so 1/3 each on clothing, accessories and shoes.



Before you tell me to go back to maths class, I haven't totaled this wrong. I managed to find a great code over on VoucherBox which entitles you to £10 off a £50 spend at New Look. That means more money to spend on sparkly accessories (and with their buy one get one free deal on jewellery, that's double the glitter!). This beautiful playsuit would look great paired with these cute silver heels. It's cold out there so wrap up warm in a faux fur cape. Finish this Christmas look with ink blue false nails and 2-for-1 silver jewellery (bangles and earrings).



So there you have it, my guide to party outfit shopping on a budget. If you really wanted to save your pennies, why not rummage through your nearest charity shops, or better yet, don't spend a thing (well maybe £5-7 entry) and instead take some of your unwanted items from your wardrobe (maybe last years Crimbo party outfit) to a Swishing event. Swishing is the name given to clothing swaps. Be sure to check out Swishing.com to find your nearest event. This idea is a bit more risky as you're not guaranteed to find the perfect item for your Christmas party, but it is definitely worth a shot!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Beyond Retro's Christmas Jumper Pop-Up Shop!

Yesterday was a very exciting day as Christmas finally arrived in town in the shape of a vintage Christmas jumper pop-up shop. Who? What? Where? Why? I hear you all shout! Well allow me to answer these very important questions.

Who? - This brilliant idea has been brought to life by one of my favourite vintage stores, Beyond Retro. What? - it's a shop full of all types of Christmas jumpers. From Nana knits, to Nordic jumpers, to jumpers with lights and jingley bells, and even some 3D sweaters! It's not just about Crimbo jumpers in here. They've also got sparkly dresses, sequined tops, velvet blazers and glittery hair accessories. Where? - You'll find this festive haven situated in Old Street station. Perfect for anyone who works in the city. Why not grab a nice hot soup from the cafe opposite so aptly named  Nincomsoup. And finally why? - The main reason for the shop (apart from catering to everyone's unashamed love of hideous jumpers) is to help support Save The Children's Christmas Jumper Day campaign, which takes place this year on Friday 12th December. £1 from every jumper sold from Beyond Retro will be donated to the charity.




I popped over to Old Street with Angelica from One Little Vice, like a big kid on, well, Christmas Day of course! We had a lot of fun trying on some of the most over-the-top designs, and then realising, we actually like those ones the best...

If you're unable to get down to the pop-up, then fear not as there are almost 2000 Christmas jumpers available to buy from Beyond Retro's website. Here's a little collection of my favourites.

Classic Navy - £22     Red Tartan - £22     Light Up Sweatshirt - £32     Novelty 3D - £25
Reindeer Bells - £22     Cream Collared - £22     Holly Vest - £18     V-neck - £20

The shop is open for the next 6 weeks, so plenty of time to choose your festive sweater to help support a great cause.

Monday, 10 November 2014

artRAVE

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ahh, roma-roma-maa, ga-ga-ohh-la-la...!

Have I got your attention? Good! A few weeks ago I went to see the one and only Lady Gaga play at The O2 Arena. It was an early birthday present from my Parents, and my what a show!!





We had pretty great seats with a fab view of the whole set-up of the spectacular stage, which even featured her very own artRAVE bar that she actually ordered a beer from halfway through her set. It must be thirsty work being Lady Gaga after all! She sang all her hits that we've come to love; from Just Dance to Applause, and even throwing in a couple of songs off her latest collaborative record with legendary singer, Tony Bennett.

It wouldn't be a Gaga gig without the odd costume change (I think I counted 8 altogether!)








She truly is an inspiration to her fans (or her little monsters as she likes to call us). Instead of conforming to critics and toning down her image, she fights back with wackier and even more outlandish outfits looks. Gaga has taught her fans to love themselves for who they are, no matter how not-so-normal or extra weird they feel. Embrace your strangeness!

Seeing the fans out in all their glorious costumes was amazing. So much time and effort had gone into some of this outfits. I was inspired myself to show a slightly wilder side of my wardrobe...












Excuse the lousy photo quality, think my camera battery was losing juice due to taking so many pictures of Mama Monster! This outfit is actually quite saucy for me, though once I got to the gig, I felt a little under dressed...

My sparkly skirt is by Orla Kiely which I nabbed at a sample sale for just £40 down from God knows how much! I've added a black lace long sleeved top bought from TKMaxx, over a black lace New Look bra, and black Carvela boots from Kurt Geiger. The look is completed with my triangle necklace and monochrome bow bag, both from New Look.

What are your thoughts on Lady Gaga - inspirational Lady, or slightly Gaga?

One thing's for sure, she's not afraid to where what she likes! That's what I have been trying to gain confidence within myself to do. If I see an item I like the look of, instead of thinking 'I could never pull that off', I try to work it into my own style and just go for it, though you won't catch me in a beefy ballgown anytime soon. Some things are just better off left to Gaga :)