Christmas wish list

October 23, 2014

Is it too early to put my Christmas wish list out there? I think not personally.

So here’s my motley crew of a gift list:

Christmas wish list

 

1. Pandora heart ring £ 145

2. Pandora bow ring £365

3. Givenchy dog purse £390

4. Krups Coffee machine £199

5. Patchwork jeans £212

6. Topshop gilet £45

7. Adidas trainers £75

 

Win a break with Pandora

Red Magazine and Pandora have collaborated to give us a chance to win a Pandora Essence bracelet and a trip for two to the Cotswolds with a stay at Calcot Manor or Barnsley House. Which would make an amazing Christmas gift. All you have to do is nominate a friend you think represents one of these three Pandora Essence values – Caring, Dedication to Belief in 50 words max. I know I’ve got one or two friends in my mind that represent at least one of them.  To enter email Pandora.redspa@hearst.co.uk

Tweet about your entry @PANDORA_UK and @redmagdaily #PANDORAessence

Closing date: 11:59pm Saturday 1 Nov 2014

 

Nat x

 

 

N.B- This was a collaborative post.

 

Making coffee with Thermos

October 22, 2014

Instead of getting invited to cocktail-making parties these days I get invited to coffee events. It must be my age. I’m not complaining, I was actually very happy when the Genuine Thermos Brand invited me to a day of all things coffee. I bloody live off coffee these days. That by no means makes me a connoisseur. My coffee consumption is more about necessity, or that’s the way it started anyway. Nowadays I do like a ‘good’ coffee but I probably couldn’t tell you a Grumpy Mule from a Jamaican Blue Mountain.

 

Last weekend I along with some other great bloggers, including they lovely Ruth from Rock n Roller baby, went to a cafe called Prufock on Leather Lane, near Farringdon. Well these people know their coffee and when I say know I mean they have world barista champions among their flock! They carefully and cleverly source, test and weight every single coffee served – that’s how much they care about coffee. The minutiae that goes into making a top notched coffee is just extraordinary but I will not be testing my poor memory skills here with the specific details for fear of getting it wrong.

makingespresso

Let’s just say my I’m not about to give up the day job and turn into a world-renowned barista.

And here’s the result of my spectacular designer latte making skills. I can’t remember what the design on top was supposed to be, but it was a flower or something. Clearly the girl did good!

pouring latte

mylatte

metakingapic

The lovely pictures you see above were taken my a fellow blogger Tom from Daydraem in Blue and edited by myself. Thanks Tom x

They also treated us to some spectacular refreshments including these gooey-in-the-middle brownies.

brownines

At the end of the coffee session we were given two Thermos’ – one large and a small everyday one. The large one was filled up with coffee and they challenged us to drink the coffee 24 hours afterwards and see if it was still hot. As I opened the lid the next day I could see the steam rising off the coffee, it was a lovely and much needed flask of coffee. Especially since I went out drinking with friends after the event (making the most of being unleashed from the kids) and then had a children’s party that day to take the kids to. Thank god I had my Thermos!

I am definitely going to turn into a Thermos geek (I could have easily used another word here beginning with w, but I prefer the term geek personally!), no longer do I have to nip into any well-known coffee shops because that’s all there is around when I get a sudden urge for a caffeine fix. I am going to make up my coffee in the morning and carry around my new best buddy enjoying my home-brew whilst getting on with my daily routine.

So if you see me walking down the street with my Thermos… please just nod knowingly.

Natalie x

thermos

 

P.S I don’t remember Thermos’ looking this good as a kid.

 

 

 

Halloween in the US by Elaine

October 21, 2014

 

Growing up in England, Halloween wasn’t a very big deal. I remember a few parties where I went as a black cat (leotard, tight leg stuffed with tights for the tail and whiskers drawn on with pen). Hardly Heidi Klum standards. Did you see her Halloween costumes?! Incredible.

As an adult with nephews and nieces, pumpkin carving began to creep in about 10 years ago, but it wasn’t done to the levels that it is in the US. Not even close, my friends, not even close…

When I moved here, I quickly saw in the weeks leading up to October 31st, that Halloween is possibly more important for some adults than it is for children.

I was freaking out. Being a thoroughly repressed Brit, there was no way I was going to get dressed up and then go out partying. That was for children. As time passed, I came to realise that as with numerous things, there’s a very delicate interpretation of what passes for “children only” in this great country.

At first I balked. A lot. Then I fell fully into it. What’s more liberating and fun than being encouraged and applauded for creating and wearing a ridiculously inappropriate halloween costume? Not much, it turns out.

When my boy was born, it was positively churlish not to dress him up. Now that he’s a Threenager, he would be appalled if he AND HIS PARENTS didn’t don costumes in public on the hallowed eve.

Last year he was Iron Man Jr. His father, Iron Man Sr. Me? Darth Vader.

photo 1

His very first year, I found him a one-off, handmade ORGANIC elephant costume. I know, what on earth was I thinking. The dog had a matching elephant outfit. They looked hilarious. The year prior, he wore several numbers, all handmade by his crazy mother. A sumo wrestler. A road warrior, Mad Max thing. A little Chinese boy. I painted my face like a Day of the Dead skull. Marvellously effective at making small children scream and cry, it turned out. My all-time favourite that year though, was Frida Kahlo.

photo 4

 

 

The day he was Frida, we had an unexpected trip to the ER. All was fine, but we’ll always have:

Doctor: His cheeks are rather flushed, as are his lips *concerned face*.

Me: Oh. No. That’s his makeup.

Doctor: Excuse me?

Me: This morning he was Frida Kahlo. I took his makeup, poncho and jewellery off on the way here. That’s why his hair is all gelled down.

(The Husband, who met us at the hospital, had had no idea we had been playing Frida at home.)

Husband: Que?! *Latin machismo overload*

Me: Diego Rivera is BORING. We did Frida instead.

Husband: *speechless, unable to make eye contact with the doctor for the rest of the visit*

photo 5

ANYWAY. MOVING ON.

Each year, the neighbourhoods go to town with their decorations. Some (MY NEIGHBOURS) do nothing. Some even turn out their lights and refuse to answer the door. Fie on you, oh funless f*ckers.

Mount Pleasant, our old hood, is incredible. So much so that there’s always at least one tv camera crew filming on the night that the streets are blocked off, and many hundreds of becostumed folk, littles and grown-ups flood the neighbourhood to marvel at the decorated homes. It’s brilliant. There’s always a live band (one of the neighbours gets his friends over and you have 4 skeletons playing rock and roll, occasionally hard rock and even some blues on their front porch).

Over the years, more neighbourhoods are getting into the spirit. In one close to our house, there is an adorable grandpa to be found every October 31st evening, rain or shine, handing out sweets to the littles and champers to the grown-ups. His garden is decorated to the hilt. His wife told us “This is his one night. Every single year. Our children and grandchildren live out of state but he’s done this without fail for the past 50 years. It keeps him young.”  What better reason.

I like to decorate. Before becoming a mother, not so much. Well, not at all really. Nowadays, I am a sucker for it. I’ve done the ground floor with an old skeleton, in a fur, covered in spiders. I feel quite an affinity for her. Pumpkins on the dining table, in the garden, cobwebs everywhere. Last year I even spray-painted a few pumpkins as I didn’t like the hue of their orangeness. Anally retentive? Me?

photo 2

 

This year, my son will be Fantasmagorico. WHO? If you grew up in Latin America in the 60s/70s, you might remember him. My husband has been reliving his childhood through YouTube and our boy is now insistent that he will be Fantasmagorico for Halloween. I just placed my order for a yellow leotard and tights on the internet. I am secretly quite delighted that I get the chance to “make” his costume this year. It felt like a bit of a cop-out last year to stick him in shop-bought action figure costume. Harking back to my own childhood memories, I am weary of making his costume and having him remember it forever as “that time my mother made my costume and I looked like an utter tit.”

The Husband will not reveal what his costume will be this year…He’s been secretly researching and pulling it together this past weekend. I am quite fearful yet looking forward to the big reveal at the same time.

I have no clue what I’ll wear. A mask or witch’s hat is always handy to chuck on at the last moment. You get to say you’ve dressed up and there’s always the bonus that nobody can recognise you.

Elaine

photo 3

 

 

Street Style Sunday – My Sunday Style

October 19, 2014

Last Sunday we went to Columbia Road and here’s what I wore:

Navy Jumper – Cos

Flared Jeans – Paige

Boots – Marks & Spencers

Hat – Jaeger

Scarf – Windsors Wardrobe

Bag – No longer available but  similar here

meatcloumbiaroad meandbrickwall

 

M&Sboots

The boots which you can’t really see in the outfit pictures are from Marks and Spencers so here they are above. Marks & Spencers have so many great clothes at the moment I feel like they deserve a whole post devoted to them soon.

 

The photos of me were taken by my 5 year old daughter, and what a brilliant job she did. You can check out her style on my instagram feed She definitely out-styles me!

Nat x

Now it’s  time to show me your style for Street Style Sunday.

Just tag me and #streetstylesunday on Instagram and/or link up your style posts below by clicking the button. 

Grab the Street Style Sunday badge (left hand column).

Comment on this post and one other post in the link up.

Tweet about it, and remember to tag @stylemesunday and I will always retweet. 

I run this link up in conjunction with the lovely Laura from Side Street Style.


kids kicks

October 15, 2014

We are crazy about shoes and trainers in this house, we have them a whole cupboard devoted to piles and piles of them. My 2 year old is clearly as obsessed as me, if we are at the soft play area she nicks all the other kid’s trainers and starts walking around in them. And then the next minute she has an angry, screaming mob of toddlers after her this is when I quickly pretend I’m on the phone or something and look the other way.
But seriously is there anything cuter than a pair of mini kicks for those chubby little feet to toddle around in. Here’s a selection of ones I’m loving right now.
kids kicks

 

My favourite ones have to be number 6. Love the colours and the classic design, they are velcro so easy to put on and off which is vital when you have a crazy little shoe obsessed toddler as your sidekick.
Which ones do you like?
Nat x

Madames Hutchinson and del Cerro go Turkish…by Elaine

October 14, 2014

This post is about our unique experience at a Hamam. The ultimate Turkish experience (discounting the Grand Bazaar stress, being awoken at 5am every single morning by the call to prayer, and our DISASTROUS DINNER), there was no way we could visit Istanbul and not have a Turkish bath.

Turkey. The country, not the bird. One of my dearest friends and I decided to extend a work trip into a mini girls’ holiday – what could be more fun than two travel-loving women spending a few days in Istanbul. Described as a city where East meets West, Asia meets Europe, we couldn’t resist.
Cemberlitas Hamam. See the photo? A little bit of hanging about wearing beautiful Turkish towels, chatting with one another whilst relaxing in the steamy, soothing vapours – perhaps with a glass of vino or such in hand; maybe even some music in the background.
My aunt had told me her experience had been fantastic. I didn’t ask for details. I mean, if a girlfriend told you she’d loved her facial, would you ask for specifics? Exactly.
Ms Hutchinson and I had had our share of facials and massages over the years. We were well-travelled women, not easily shocked nor daunted. This Turkish bath day was going to be a brilliant way of ending our otherwise disastrous mini-holiday.
You go inside, you pay and choose your ‘programme’. As it was our penultimate day, we decided to go wild and have the hamam with luxury massage at the end. We were already feeling refreshed and all exotic. In our lockers was a little plastic package containing a pair of black knickers and a robe with slippers. We put them on and off we trotted to the most beautiful bathroom we’d ever seen. The photo doesn’t lie here. It really was stunning.
A massive slab of marble lay in the centre of the high-ceilinged and mosque-like room. It was a very large circular slab, if you like, and it was heated. Bliss. Instructed to sit on the marble and remove our robes, we sat there quietly and expectantly. It was a bit awkward, topless and in a pair of ‘provided’ black knickers. At this point, the minds started to wonder “Do they dry clean these knickers? Are they in fact, REUSABLE? How many others have worn this exact pair?” Before one had time to process the thinking, our Ladies arrived.
Two women in their mid-sixties with very capable-looking hands. No smiles, no greetings, just straight to business. Perfect. Now, Ms Hutchinson and I are people that like a proper massage, not the wimpy Swedish type. We like to feel like we’ve been pummelled a little bit.
My Lady was a bit delayed in starting, so I had the benefit of seeing what my friend had to endure first, and had about 45 seconds to prepare myself. Those became the most vital 45 seconds of my life.
photo 1
Plastic bucket full of soapy water. Pillow case. Really? No loofah or essential oils? Miss H’s lady said something in a low voice, lifted up the bucket, shook it a bit then WHAM. No warning, no hint. Just a bucketful of water dumped right over my friend’s entire body, head first. Hilarious! Out came the rag from inside her t-shirt and she began scrubbing Ms Hutchinson, going hell for leather. I got the same treatment seconds later, but I knew what to expect, so had my mouth and eyes shut when my water-dumping happened.
When I say hell for leather, I’m not exaggerating. The ladies stripped off their black t-shirts and proceeded with the bathing ritual in just their black lace bras and black lace knickers. Surreal. Large, buss pass-aged women, with all their bits jiggling 2 inches from one’s face, furiously scrubbing away at their speechless victims. No English was spoken, so there was an awful lot of pushing, poking and grabbing to get us into the correct positions.
At one point, in her frustration at my lack of understanding the slaps on my left upper arm, my Lady grabbed my ankle and spun me around. Holy cow. 
Behind us, we saw one young American girl in her full-on Speedo swimming costume, arguing with her Lady about keeping her swimsuit on. There was no way she was going to don a pair of potentially previously-used knickers and no way on earth was she going to allow anyone to see her boobs. She kept her suit on and all we could hear was the snapping, twanging noises of her swimsuit being elastic-banded against her poor skin. No mercy shown to the prudish American.
The buckets were refilled, giving us time to whisper back and forth “What the effing eff is going on?” “I’m BLIND.” “I’m drowning.” “She took that rag to scrub me with out of her BRA, HER BRA!” “My knickers almost flew off, she threw that water at me so hard.” “This is not very relaxing.” “Oh fuck, they’re coming back.”
The second time around comprised even more soap suds in the buckets. The pillow cases were dunked inside and filled up with millions of bubbles. Expecting the pillowcase to be emptied over our heads, we both closed our eyes…and then BAM. No, they were not emptied over our heads. Our heads were smacked with them. No shame whatsoever. At this point, one could only laugh. Silently. Never in our lives did we imagine being whacked around the head with a pillowcase filled with soapy bubbles. We were paying good money for this, too.
Things started to slow down. The Ladies became a bit more gentle (guilt, we assumed) and would even make eye contact before slapping us on the arm or thigh to move around. Talk about being lulled into a false sense of security.
We were led to individual pools. Beautiful they were, see photo. It was over, at last, we could relax in the pool and pretend none of that happened. Gingerly stepping into the pool, desperately trying to regain some element of dignity, Ms Hutchinson and I looked at one another, laughed in relief – and then got shoved face first into the water. Yet again, another noseful of water. I almost wept. “REFRESH GOOD, GET OUT”. I wasn’t sure if my Lady wanted me to exit the pool or the hamam. When she instructed me to return to the marble slab, I think a small part of me died.
photo 2
I climbed out of the pool, holding onto my severely stretched-out and now beyond saggy knickers, and shuffled back to the slab of indignity. I looked at my friend. Her eyes were more bloodshot than if she’d gone to town on 5 bottles of vodka the night before. Soap in the eyes does that. 
The final ten minutes on the slab couldn’t be all bad. What else could they throw at us? We’d suffered it all. Water over the head, bubbles in the mouth, eyes so sore from all the water that we were almost blind, repositioned by our ankles and boobs.
Ms H and I really love to gab. A lot. We tire other people out with our talking, hand gesturing, loud histrionics and general non-stop yakking. In other words, we rarely have our mouths shut for long. This experience however, we’d learned to keep our gobs closed tight. Once things had come to a close, the Ladies were cleaning up, wringing out the pillowcases into the buckets…it was finally time for us to recommence the talking. I swear to god, Ms Hutchinson’s Lady was just waiting…just waiting until she had her mouth wide open, face turned towards me, mid-sentence….then came a full bucket’s worth of soapy, cold water SMACK BANG CENTRE in my dearest friend’s face. Thrown from around 1 foot distance, for maximum velocity and impact, I suspect — Ms Hutchinson almost slid backwards off the slab. It was truly amazing that she didn’t suffer whiplash. Cry with laughter? Holy mother of soap, I almost died. Before my Lady had time to take aim at me, I was off the slab, slipping and sliding as fast as I could out of there towards the massage room.
When we got back to the US, we asked our friends for the details about their hamam experiences. Expecting them to admit the brutal scrubbing and water torture with us now inner circle co-victims, we were rather taken aback when all of them said they’d had a wonderful, relaxing experience. 
Either Ms Hutchinson and I had one of our typical “It only happens to us” experiences, or our friends are sadists.
The post-bath massages were amazing though. 
Elaine

Street Style Sunday – 80’s houndstooth

October 12, 2014

Houndstooth check is as classic as breton stripes both will never go out of fashion and both are key components of any woman’s wardrobe. Here I have a Moschino oversized coat courtesy of mum’s wardrobe. Oh mum how I love you. I remember looking at my mum in awe as a kid, she often looked like a film star in my young eyes. I have a few memories of some outfits I really wish I could lay my hands on now, like the silk navy with white spots long dress that came in at the waist and flared out at the skirt, oh how I adored that dress. However I can’t complain really she’s left me some corkers – like this oversize houndstooth 80’s beauty.

houndstooth

houndstooth2

 

Skinny jeans – Uniqlo, Trainers – Adidas Originals

Some other oversized coat loveliness in the shops right now:

 

 

 

Oversized coats

 

Click on image for details.
I hope you’ve got your winter coat by now and if not I’d be quick the days of going out without a coat are sadly over.
Nat x

Now it’s Sunday again and time to show me your Street Style Sunday.

Just tag me and #streetstylesunday on Instagram and/or link up your style posts below by clicking the button. 

Grab the Street Style Sunday badge (left hand column).

Comment on this post and one other post in the link up.

Tweet about it, and remember to tag @stylemesunday and I will always retweet. 

I run this link up in conjunction with the lovely Laura from Side Street Style.

 


Slugs & Snails tights for boys (and girls)

October 9, 2014

Tights are an essential for us in this household especially in this weather. I like to pair them with some denim cutoffs or a dress to make the kid’s summer wardrobe go that bit further. I’m loving these Slugs & Snails tights and their fab designs. Not only are the designs great (see more here) but they are made from the softest organic cotton and are thick and durable to keep their little tootsies cosy and warm without irritation all winter. They were originally designed with boys in mind, but as we all know ladies we aren’t about to let the boys keep a good thing to themselves!

We got to test out the Autumn and Trunk Slugs & Snail tights c/o Kyna Boutique and they quickly became a wardrobe favourite.

tightsandwellies

Is your child fascinated with other people’s shoes? She had just ‘borrowed’ some Thomas wellies when I took this shot.

trunktights

The best thing about photographing a nearly 2 year old (except those chubby little legs of course) is that the photos cannot ever be staged and I just love that.

 

If you would like to get some Slugs & Snails tights for your little girl or boy then head over to Kyna Boutique where you’ll find them and lots of other fantastic organic clothes for kids. Make sure you have a look at POPUPSHOP one of my current fave brands.

Natalie x

Ski & Snowboard Show

October 8, 2014

This year I’ll be attending the Ski & Snowboard Show in London. And amazingly I have 2 free tickets to give away!

There’s tons for kids to do. So it would be a great family day out.

 

James_North_Photo_6761 James_North_Photo_8357 James_North_Photo_8656  James_North_Photo_9634 kids slide

James_North_Photo_9330

 

The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show North will takes place at EventCity, Manchester from 24-26 October 2014.
The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show London will take place at Earls Court 2, London from 30 October – 2 November 2014.  
 North Ticket Prices
Adult £10
Concession £7
Student £4
Children 11-16 £4
Children Under 11 FREE
Family (2 adults, 2 children) £22
OPENING TIMES:
 
FRIDAY 24TH OCTOBER – 10AM – 5PM
SATURDAY 25TH OCTOBER – 9AM – 5PM
 
SUNDAY 26TH OCTOBER – 10AM – 5PM
 
London Ticket Prices
Adult £12
Concession £9
Student £5
Children 11-16 £5
Children Under 11 FREE
Family (2 adults, 2 children) £25
Après £5
I’ll see you at the Apres-ski bar!
To win 2 free tickets for the London show leave a comment below. The winner will be picked next week.
Natalie x

The Coatwalk event

October 8, 2014

As I’ve already mentioned I attended an event called Coatwalk last week organised by the Jacques Vert group, which is helping to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Here are my pictures from the event. And just in case you think the brands which include Kaliko, Planet, Windsmoor, Dash, Precis Petite, Minuet Petit, and Eastex are not your cup of tea hopefully the pictures of me modelling my favourite coats will make you think again. At the moment they have up to £50 off selected coats and if you purchase one in October £10 will automatically be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support – a charity very close to my heart after I lost my very special uncle to cancer 18 years ago.

The dramatic venue was right near Big Ben.

bigben

 

The event was hosted by Natasha Kaplinsky, who looked stunning in her beautiful red gown. There were many other celebrities there too including an idol of mine – Jo Wood.

 

IMG_2464

 

 

The catwalk was walked by an array of models, celebrities, and people connected with Macmillan Cancer Support somehow – whether they were volunteers, workers or cancer survivors – it made for a very awe-inspiring and touching afternoon/ evening.

IMG_2467

Me and the lovely Kimberley Marren (model and actress)  modelling our favourite coats.

checkcoat

 

swingcoat

kimberleymirren

browncoat

I have to confess this last coat stole my heart for absolute favourite. Which one do you prefer?

 

Remember if you purchase a coat in October £10 will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.

 

Natalie x

 

 

 

 

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