Why you should be independent shopping this Christmas

independent shopping

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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The Parla Pop-up is a Minimalist’s Dream

parla pop-upParla Pop-up | Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate | Map

I get a little bit giddy anytime a favourite brand of mine expands. Especially when that brand is an independent one, with a strong emphasis on talented females. Enter Pärla, an East London store based in Boxpark Shoreditch, whom you may remember from some of my previous posts. I’ve been chatting about the brand online – and off – for a while now, which makes their new pop-up even sweeter for me.

Being the fangirl that I am, I decided to go check out the Parla pop-up as soon as it opened. And I don’t think I’m going to be the only one falling in love with it.

The Summer Parla Pop-Up

Pärla may have started with an East London store, but some of you will be glad to hear that they’re now expanding West. Yep, their special Summer pop-up is based in none other than the famous Portobello Road, Notting Hill. The new pop-up is airy, bright, and filled with contemporary jewellery and gorgeous lifestyle items (including lingerie and candles). The usual jewellery design players are all there: V Jewellery, Jessie Harris, Clarice Price Thomas, Smith/Grey, and more. And this time they’ve been joined by a few fashion designers too, such as Danielle Foster, Jody Shafton and others.

I personally can’t stop by Pärla without adding a hundred things to my wish-list, and buying several of the ones already on it. This time I added a piece of V Jewellery to my collection; a little bling to perk up the numerous ear piercings I’m stacking up. And naturally I added everything from Clarice Price Thomas and Jessie Harris’s new collections to my wish-list. It’s safe to say that the new Parla Pop-up is everything I had hoped for, and I can honestly say it’s a minimalists lifestyle dream.

You can visit the Parla Pop-up yourself at 201 Portobello Road, until Sept 3rd.

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2017: A Year of Self Help & Making Big Decisions?

self helpA Year of Self Help & Making Big Decisions

2017 has started a little differently than 2016. Last year I decided I wanted to say “yes” to as many things as possible. That actually went pretty well…well, in the sense that I did it. Unfortunately it also meant my social calendar became pretty hectic. I had to balance my social life and work. And I burnt myself out. So 2017 has seen me saying “no” to things instead.

Why? Because I soon learnt that saying yes, and wanting to please everyone was really not the way to go. Unless of course I wanted to stress myself out to the point where I knocked 10 years off my life.

A Year of Self Help

You see, I’m highly susceptible to stress. The last few years have seen me manage it relatively well, but sadly last year I didn’t give myself the time to re-energise. Something which is extremely important when it comes to keeping my sanity. Because of this, at the end of 2016 I saw my mental and physical health plummet. This isn’t entirely to do with my social life, of course. There was a death in my family, a close family member was taken ill, and other factors came in to play (again, thanks Trump/Brexit).

So I decided that this year I want to make some big changes, and some bigger decisions:

  • Take better care of myself
    • Both my mental & physical health
    • Be happier
  • Travel more
  • Seriously consider moving abroad
    • London life is a big contributor to stress
    • It’s something I’ve been considering for a couple of years
    • Amsterdam & Copenhagen are on the table
  • Think about buying a house
    • Ben and I have been wanting to buy somewhere for a while
    • It would give us a project to work on
    • No noisy upstairs-neighbours

I might mess up a little along the way. In fact I can almost definitely say I will. But if I keep my main goal in mind – take better care of myself – then I believe I can make a difference in 2017. And at least I can say I had good intentions.

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New Year New Me… Oh Please! | Style

New Year New MeBiker Jacket: Zara| Shirt: Mads Nørgaard | Vest: Topshop | Trousers: Warehouse* | Trainers: Adidas

We all utter it at least once a year. Whether it’s New Years Eve, New Years Day, or maybe just after you’ve devoured all of the leftover turkey and trimmings. “New Year new me”. It can mean many things, and I truly believe that people have good intentions when they mutter it. I’ve definitely said it before. And thought it a million times. But have I ever done it? …have you?

After all, we all kinda know we’re lying when we say it. Aren’t we?

New Year New Me!

Well I think to a certain extent, we do all change and grow. Just not generally all at the same time. Can you imagine the carnage if we all suddenly discovered how to better ourselves at 00:01 on January 1st? As comical as the idea is, I like to think that we all learn from our mistakes. Even if it does mean making them a few times before we realise it. I definitely have a few things I need to teach myself in 2017.

New year new me may seem silly, or redundant, but it really is a heartfelt expression. However you phrase it, we’re (read: most of us) all doing our best to become better people. For some that may be cutting down on their guilty pleasures, for others it may mean taking more risks. I’ve certainly sat down with myself and had the talk. For now it’s personal, but I hope that I can share it with you all soon. And whatever your thoughts on ‘new year, new me’ are, I hope that 2017 will be a good one for you.

Check out my previous style posts here.
Photos of me are taken by Van Anh Le Thi

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Sorry but Christmas style ain’t my thing…

Christmas styleBiker Jacket: Zara| Jumper: COS | Shirt: & Other Stories | Trousers: Warehouse* | Trainers: Adidas

Every year I try to convince myself that I can do Christmas style. It’s either “buy that sequin dress” or “pop on that Christmas jumper”. But it always seems like I’m putting on a bit of a show for others. My problem is I get Christmas fever – it’s a real thing, trust me. I love the anticipation, the food, the mulled wine… And with the hype of the season – and all of the Christmas parties – my style is inevitably affected. I feel like I have to make the effort and dress up, otherwise I’m letting people down. And let’s be honest, my personal style is not exactly what you’d deem Christmas style friendly.

Sorry but Christmas style ain’t my thing…

This year was no different. I was searching for an outfit for the Christmas party, and of course I wanted to buy something new. But I took a minute to stop and think about it. The party was going to feel no more or less like Christmas if I came dressed in a glittery all-in-one or not. Let’s be honest, the only way it could be more Christmas-y is if I turned up in a sexy tree costume (how is that actually a thing?!). So I stuck with one of my favourite LBDs. And you know what? The party was amazing.

So no, you won’t find any Christmas jumper posts this year. Nor will you see me in sequins – as hilarious as that would be. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you shouldn’t feel pressured to “dress-up” or put on a ton more make-up than you would any other time of year. If you fancy going all out, then go for it. But don’t let anyone tell you that you have to “coz it’s Christmas”. You’re fabulous just as you are. After all, this is the time of year to reflect, chill out, and eat a ton of awesome food. And what better way to do it, than dressed in something that makes you happy.

Check out my previous style posts here.
Photos of me are taken by Van Anh Le Thi

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Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret

hand cafeHand Cafe | East Village | Nearest Tube: Stratford | Map

It is my firm belief that everyone should have a local cafe. Cafes are the perfect place to lose yourself in your thoughts, contemplate life, or just enjoy a damn good coffee. When we moved to East Village in Stratford, the cafe offerings were pretty sparse. And by sparse I mean the closest (decent) cafe was in Homerton. That cafe was 46b Espresso Hut.

I’d been a few times when I was in the area, but it wasn’t close enough to become a ‘local’. So you can imagine my surprise when one of the units near our apartment put up a sign saying a new cafe was coming. But this wasn’t just any cafe. This was Hand cafe – 46b Espresso Hut’s younger sibling.

Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret

I really have nothing bad to say about Hand, so this post is going to be one of those genuine glowing reviews, that don’t come about too often. They’re dedicated to bringing good coffee and high quality food (using local ingredients) to the people of Stratford…and anyone who fancies paying a visit really.

From toasties to shakshuka, it’s anything but the usual foodie fare. The colourful yellow and purple dish below? That’s bacon, avocado and egg on sourdough. They’ve got the ‘traditional’ dishes down, but they’ve added their own special flare to them. My favourite is the Hand Granola; the fruits change based on what’s available and in season, and the added touch of bee pollen and mint adds a whole new dimension of texture and flavour to this breakfast staple. Trust me, you won’t bore of the food here.

More than just coffee…

I visit at least once a week, and often see the same faces (as well as new ones). Eva and Dom spend a lot of time getting to know everyone, and always greet you with a smile. And it’s not forced. These are genuine people doing something they love, and sharing it with those around them. Their hard work and determination has really helped cement Hand as – in my opinion – the best cafe in East Village. Hand cafe is a gem amongst a growing community. I think I’d even go as far to say it’s the heart.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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