The Christmas Hygge Gift Guide

Hygge Gift GuideI’m all about that hygge lifestyle. Whereas the trend may have died down in the UK, I’ve continued to adopt the concept. I believe in the art of slow living, and I’m always trying to bring a little bit of it into my home and life. I also know that a lot of my readers have a similar outlook. So for my second instalment in my Christmas gift guide series I decided to go with something a little different. Here is ‘The Hygge Gift Guide’, and it’s jam packed full of awesome products to bring some warmth, cosiness and comfort into your Christmas.

The Hygge Gift Guide

It wasn’t easy breaking such an intricate concept into three categories, but I don’t think I did too bad a job, right? A cosy home is the perfect place to start, shortly followed by plenty of comforting food & drink. And last but certainly not least, some lifestyle items to keep you going in and outside of the house. As always, I have placed an emphasis on quality items from a selection of independent stores and makers, as well as some well-known brand names. With this gift guide, you’re bound to impress any hygge fan.

If you enjoyed The Hygge Gift Guide, check out the rest of my Christmas Gift Guide series.

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Why you should be independent shopping this Christmas

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Why independent shopping?

Independent shopping has become a hot topic, and with chains littering the high street it’s easy to see why. I for one am tired of poor quality mass produced items. And as more independent stores open across the country, it would seem that a lot of other people are too. My own hometown, Norwich, has seen a rise in independent stores and cafes, and they are thriving. But why? Well there are a lot of great reasons why you should be independent shopping:

  • Quality products
  • Unique gifts with a story
  • Support your local shops
  • Help someone do something they love

Where should I shop?

Well that’s entirely up to you. You may have some great local businesses and stores nearby. But if you don’t, or you just fancy checking out somewhere new, I have a few recommendations for you:

  • Trouva
    • This is the place for independent shopping. With boutiques across the UK you can shop from the comfort of your own home – or office desk etc – to find the perfect item for you and your loved ones. My current favourite is: Blabar
  • Stranger London
    • This one is for those who want a little bit of magic into their life, and homes. Run by my friend Yasumi, she focuses on unique pieces that scream adventure & personal wellbeing. The store boasts handmade pieces with nods to Japan, UK and Scandinavia. I’m a personal fan of her thread sketches.
  • Weathered Penny
    • If you’re into jewellery, this is the store for you. Their pieces come in a variety of contemporary styles, and they won’t break the bank. I love the hand earrings.
  • Triangle
    • Their choice of products is well thought out; they’re simple, functional and let’s be honest, aesthetically pleasing.
  • Aida
    • This is one of my favourite local stores for fashion, and not only because they have their own cafe on the shop floor. They carry a range of quality brands such as Rains, Veja, and Mads Nørgaard.
  • Botany
    • For the plant lovers and homeware addicts out there. I often stop by Botany’s store to browse their selection of plants. And I love that they offer workshops for those who really want to get hands-on.

 

Keep an eye out for my Christmas gift guides, coming soon!

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Images are courtesy of Trouva, however all views, suggestions and words are my own.

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Cosy Winter Eats at The Sipping Room | Restaurant Review

winter eatsThe Sipping Room | Drake & Morgan | European | Map

I have something to admit. I love West India Quay. I love being by the water, and staring up at the gigantic buildings that feel as though they’re hugging me (it reminds me a lot of Tokyo). And I love the hidden little gems dotted around, some of which you might not associate with the area. But I realise that not everyone feels the same way as me, so I always jump at the chance to bring someone along on my visits. And such an opportunity occurred last weekend, when VA and I decided to go for some Winter eats at The Sipping Room.

Hygge-worthy Atmosphere

As Autumn ends, and Winter starts to draw in, I begin looking for a different kind of restaurant. I start looking for somewhere that serves comforting food, with a cosy & warm atmosphere. The Sipping Room seemed like the perfect place for this, with their warm lighting, enticing menu, and friendly staff. Some might say it’s hygge-worthy. And you can see why, with the Scandinavian stylings and the family-friendly atmosphere.

Cozy Winter Eats

With VA as my foodie sidekick, we perused the menu with ease, and chose the most delectable sounding dishes (favourites are bolded):

  • Cocktails
    • London Spritz (Tanquery gin, cucumber, elderflower, apple, mint & soda)
    • Vignard (Botanist gin, dark grape juice, lime, sugar syrup, egg white & lemon thyme)
  •  Starters
    • Scotch egg (chorizo & smoked paprika mayonnaise)
    • Salt szechuan pepper squid (lemon mayonnaise)
  • Mains
    • Free-range half chicken Sunday roast (Yorkshire pudding & pigs in blankets)
    • Rib of beef Sunday roast (Yorkshire pudding & horseradish sauce)
    • All served with roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli & gravy
  • Pudding
    • Creme Brûlée (biscotti)
    • Chocolate brownie (vanilla ice cream)

Our 3-course meal for two people came to a total of £74.70 (£37.35pp) with two cocktails. Not bad for a treat, however it is on the pricier side if you just fancy a casual Sunday meal. That said, we were pretty indulgent during our visit. I would definitely return for their cocktails, and that Scotch egg! Is that possible? Well if it is, I’d love to go back and check out their new outdoor igloos, where you can wrap up in a cosy sheep skin. The perfect Winter warmer!

Check out more: Where to Eat

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This post is in collaboration with Drake & Morgan, however all views, photos and words are my own.

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Dinner Date: My Private Chef Experience

Private Chef Experience

Have you ever been sat at home thinking ‘I fancy hiring a private chef to host a dinner party for me’. No? Yeah me neither, that is until a few weeks ago. An email landed in my inbox from La Belle Assiette. They offered me the chance to have a private chef visit my home, and cook a 4-course menu for myself and a selection of guests. Maybe I was on a high from perusing their menus, or maybe I just felt like a real adult for once, because I said yes. And so began my private chef experience.

My Private Chef Experience

Living in London means my flat isn’t exactly a mansion. But we are lucky enough to have an open plan kitchen-lounge, with a reasonably sized dining area. So we invited a couple of friends over, for drinks and dinner.

I was introduced to my chef beforehand – Lina Lin. A talented chef who works for Roka during the day, and has a passion for supper clubs in the evening, Lina was a perfect match! We chatted beforehand via WhatsApp and a phone call where we discussed the menu and my needs. As much as I love Japanese food, I decided to go for Lina’s Singaporean menu (she has a couple to choose from), because honestly, it just sounded too delicious to pass up.

The Menu

  • Appetiser
    • Crispy Potato Curry Puff
  • Starter
    • Tauhu Goreng (Fried Tofu layered with Bean Sprouts, Cucumber, Carrot, Scallion and Special Peanut Sauce)
  • Main Course
    • Nasi Lemak (Fragrant Rice cooked in Coconut Milk and Pandan leaf, served with Beef Rendang, Sambal Prawn, Anchovies, Peanut, Cucumber and Sambal Chilli)
  • Dessert
    • Mango Sago with Coconut Milk

Lina was incredibly knowledgeable, professional, and friendly. And not to mention, an accomplished chef. Originally I thought it might be a little awkward having a stranger in my kitchen. Everything from laying the table, down to washing the dishes is done by your chef – so you get the whole evening off. After I calmed my urge to help, I relaxed and enjoyed a few drinks with my guests, before we were seated.

The meal itself was even more delicious than it sounded, and I loved how Lina explained the dishes and the origins behind them. After we had finished, we chatted about Singapore, food, and London life. It genuinely felt like we had just had dinner with a close acquaintance.

La Belle Assiette is an experience that I will never forget, and I don’t think my guests will either. If you fancy a night off, you can hire a private chef in London via La Belle Assiette (prices start at £39pp)

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This post is in collaboration with La Belle Assiette. Photos were by a professional photographer, however all views and words are my own.

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The Art of Slow Living: Is It Possible In London?

slow livingSlow Living: Is It Possible In London?

Several years ago I decided to up and change the way I looked at my approach to life. Basically I wasn’t happy. I decided that I was moving too fast, and I needed a break. That meant looking at the way I live, and the everyday things I do. A lifestyle and mentality rebrand, if you will. But let’s be honest, nothing is that straight forward. And is it even possible to incorporate slow living into a London lifestyle?

Slow Living in London

Over the past year I set out to try and find a way to bring the lifestyle concept of slow living into…well, my life. Our society is based on fast fashion, fast food, and even fast lifestyles. If you’re not living fast, then you’re not living at all. At least that’s what people say. I soon realised it wasn’t going to be easy, and the hardest part was figuring out what ‘slow living’ even meant to me.

  1. Stop being so materialistic. I told myself it’s good to have nice things, but it doesn’t mean anything if they have no value, and I don’t mean monetary. I’m talking about objects/experiences that have meaning. Like the expensive pair of sneakers I had wanted for years, which I finally bought myself with the first pay check from my new job.
  2. Quality over quantity. Whereas before I probably bought myself an item of clothing or went to a new restaurant every week, now I do it about once or twice a month. I put more thought into what I want/need, and the design and quality of the piece. I’d rather spend a little more on something that lasts longer and works better, than buy a bajillion items that don’t.
  3. Enjoying the little things. Because sometimes having a G&T by candlelight at home with my friends is much more mentally rewarding than going to the latest ‘on-trend’ bar, and wasting a ton of money on overpriced drinks.
  4. Slowing down my lifestyle. Admittedly this has been the hardest step out of them all, and it’s something I’m still working on today. A lot of people in London can’t (or won’t) grasp the concept of it, and it’s understandable when you live in a city that pulls you in all directions. After a rather successful end to 2016, the first half of 2017 was pretty rough for me. But I’m now trying to get myself back on track again. It may take some time, but if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

You can follow my attempt at ‘slow living’ and read more of my help posts here.

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24 Hours in Monaco | A Travel Guide

24 Hours in MonacoIt can be pretty tough visiting a new city, or country. You’re not sure where to eat, what to see, or even where to stay. Well I’m here to change all of that with my handy guides! They’re full of tips, tricks, and the best places to go. So stop worrying about how you’re going to make the most of your time in a new place; here are my recommendations for spending 24 hours in Monaco!

24 hours in monaco

24 Hours in Monaco

  • Drive to Monaco
    • Monaco is pretty small, and expensive. Unless you want to go all out, I’d suggest staying somewhere close by and driving into the principality.
  • Brunch at Café de Paris
    • This brasserie is world famous, and you’ve probably spotted it in a movie or two. Sit outside on the terrace and mingle with the rich & famous, whilst you enjoy coffee and pastries.
  • Check out that architecture!
    • For such a small place, Monaco has a surprisingly eclectic mix of architecture. From old palatial hotels, to modern apartments, and bridges sandwiched between cliffs.
  • Visit the Prince’s Palace
    • The Prince’s Palace overlooks the bay of Monaco, and it’s a stunning sight…as proven by the 100os of selfies taken there every day.
  • Wander the streets
    • The palace is situated amongst several quaint streets, each littered with gelaterias, stereotypical souvenir shops, and restaurants.
  • Eat ice cream by the harbour
    • Because who doesn’t want to stare out onto a beautiful crystal blue sea covered with yachts…
  • Go hunting for art!
    • Monaco’s streets are literally covered in art. From traditional statues, to modern google-eyed fun. It’s a must-see for any art lover in town.
  • Do dinner in Nice
    • Nice isn’t too far from Monaco, but it’s considerably bigger, and has a lot more restaurants on offer. Such as La Femme du Boulanger.

Well there you have it, my travel guide to 24 Hours in Monaco!
And don’t forget to check out the my other 24 Hours In… guides.

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Learning to Love Instagram Again – A Guide

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For a while now it seemed as though Instagram is imploding in on itself. Longtime and new users alike are tired of the new algorithm, bots, hacked accounts, and much more. We’re given pointless updates that no one asked for – a la Facebook – and to top it all off, Instagram don’t seem to be listening to any of it’s users complaints. Yet through it all, I’ve stayed true to Instagram, although it was pretty tough at times. And finally, I’m learning to love Instagram again.

Learning to Love Instagram Again

I recently took a mini break from Instagram. The best way to describe how I felt is disillusioned. I decided that I was tired of creating promo posts, endless flatlays, and worrying about what my next upload would be. So I went away for a few days, I deleted a bunch of old photos that made me unhappy, and I came back with fresh ideas.

  • Beating the System Or ‘finding a work around the new algorithm’. It’s not easy, but there are certain things you can do to claw your account back to the realms of the living. Posting once a day, and using a selection of new hashtags (repeat hashtag usage results in posts not being seen) in each post should do it.
  • Keep it Unique Easier said than done. But studies have shown that people are bored of overly stylised flatlays taking up their feed. The “big accounts” are all looking the same, and there’s a herd of copycats on their tails. Think about it; why would someone buy a knock-off when they can have the real thing? Creating unique, concise content is one of the best ways to draw in new followers, and keep the ones you have.
  • Love What You Do It’s so easy to just give up. But if you’re really not enjoying Instagram, take a break. Basically if it feels like a chore, don’t waste your time on it. Go away and come back when you’re ready – whether that’s after a day, or a month. I did and it helped me come up with a new look for my feed, a new strategy, and it made me a lot happier.

You can follow me on Instagram @bloomzy and read more of my help posts here.

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