All about black: Semi Casual

Monday, 23 February 2015
black - leather jacket

Clockwise: Jigsaw striped top (similar), Rick Owens Naska leather jacket, Miu Miu sunglasses, Aquazzura Christy flats, Hermes Cape Cod watch, Hermes belt, Zara jeans and Chanel WOC.

I was in London recently to shoot some street style photos for Swoon Mag. I was probably the most underdressed person there, all wrapped up in my thickest parka and thermal, desperately trying to keep warm. I was lucky to have lovely Hana for company who'd kindly let me tag along as I covered street style for the very first time. My cheeks still ached from laughing as we cracked one joke after another. Her enthusiasm for people photography rubbed off on me as we navigated the craziness of Fashion Week where you'll find the elegant, wacky, chic and preposterous outfits, all on show.

A guy in 6 inch heels? A massive pig tail on a shaved head? Wackiness aside, there were plenty of gorgeous outfits and people to be seen including the formidable and accomplished New Zealand born fashion journalist, Hilary Alexander. I was too busy gawking in awe that I failed to take a snapshot of her. The photographers went crazy when Coronation Street star, Michelle Keegan (neither Hana nor I knew who she was until much later. I must buy a TV......) sauntered through the gates of Somerset House. Ditto when Yasmin Le Bon arrived with her daughter, Amber in tow, looking effortlessly chic and impossibly young in a semi casual outfit.

We met a few other bloggers, chatted to a couple that I knew. We alternated between Somerset House and a nearby cafe to defrost before braving the cold again. Let's just say that street style photography isn't as easy as it looks.............

All about black: casual outfit

Wednesday, 18 February 2015
casual copy

Clockwise: Uniqlo sweater, Miu Miu sunglasses, Aquazzura Christy flats, Zara skinny boyfriend jeans (the current boyfriend jeans at Zara do not fit the same but a very similar pair and equally flattering can be found here) and Hermes belt.

I always plan a fanciful outfit only to succumb to simplicity on the day. Heck, if ageing has taught me's hard to feel confident when I'm uncomfortable with what I'm wearing. This V neck Uniqlo sweater has served me well. I switch between the black and grey sweaters. They hold up incredibly well, wash after wash and after much abuse.

I'm re-introducing my eyesore Zara boyfriend jeans again after inundating poor readers with a million photos of them over the past year. My well worn Hermes belt was an eBay find 15 years ago. It had clocked in at least half a decade before it was mine. I'm sure the cost per wear would be 0.01 pence these days.

Fashion black out: Favorites

Tuesday, 17 February 2015
black on black
Clockwise: Miu Miu sunglasses, Aquazzura Christy ballet flats, Chanel WOC, Zara tuxedo jacket, Hermes Cape Cod watch.

I used to answer with lightning speed that my favorite color was blue but let's face it, I'm garbed in black head to toe most days. I had my colors analyzed nearly 2 decades ago. Black's definitely my color, particularly over the colder 6 months of the year when my pale skin matches a vampire's.

I've included a couple of new purchases on my favorite "black" list; the tuxedo jacket from Zara and the "Christy" ballet flats from Aquazzura that I've been drooling over the last 2 months. I've been searching high and low for a well fitted tuxedo jacket that doesn't cost the earth. The Stella McCartney "Melissa" jacket fits like a dream but it was slightly too long for a shorty like me. The price made my eyes water too.  The one from Maje was made of rather flimsy material. The shoulder of another from Claudie Pierlot was far too narrow and lumpy. I could go on...... However, every now and then, I manage to unearth a treasure from Zara like this tuxedo jacket with a rather eye-catching piping along the hem.

I nabbed a pair of Aquazzura Christy flats a couple of weeks ago before they were sold out everywhere. I rarely pay retail for shoes especially if they're in the high 3 figures. After tossing and turning, humming and hawing over these gorgeous pointed flats for the last month, I decided to bite the bullet and get them anyway. I'm over classic ballet flats these days. You know me and my obsession with statement shoes, particularly ones that are comfortable.

Forgive my sweet and short posts this week as I have family visiting over the school term break. I'll be playing tour guide (one that has a shocking sense of direction). If you see an Asian lady looking rather lost leading a gaggle of kids and a couple of adults in London, come and say hello. It'll definitely be me.

Afternoon tea at The Landmark

Monday, 9 February 2015

Every blogger, whether she's doing it professionally or as a hobby will tell you that it's all too easy to suffer from blogging burn out. Those of us who've been pounding the keyboard for years will also tell you that we continue doing it because of the people who've come into our lives, thanks to blogging. I may have landed in the U.K knowing only a handful of individuals but the number of friends I've made (that includes fellow bloggers and readers) over the past years have grown tremendously.

I've heard many of your stories, shared many laughters, shed some tears, learned invaluable tips......all of which have left footprints in my life. Material things can only make us happy for a brief moment before the desire for the next holy grail grips us but it's the people who leave behind memories and the impact they've made stay a lifetime (or two).

A reader ( I shall call her Mary to protect her identity) and I met up last year and chatted over dim sum when she had the opportunity to visit London. This year, she went all out and treated me to a lovely afternoon tea at The Landmark along with a beautiful bunch of flowers and a wide smile. Words can't describe how touched I am seeing the trouble she went to just to spend some time with me. Another reader/client who has become a good friend shouted me lunch (we usually fight over the bill. Never mind, there's always next time!). Myizzi thought of me when she was in South Korea and sent me packets of special tea from Jeju Island. Another reader and client flew into London recently and spent a couple of hours catching up with me at Bond & Brook.

I can wax verbose over our afternoon tea treats but it was the memory of the lovely time spent with Mary that lingered in my mind.

Winter Garden
The Landmark
222 Marylebone Road
London NW1 6JQ
Tube: Marylebone or Baker St

Heavenly Treats

Tuesday, 3 February 2015
paris brest-1
paris brest
grand cru2
grand cru

In my household, we tend to fight over crisps or savory treats but this time a civil war nearly broke out when the husband polished off the last mouthful of chocolate Gran Cru when I turned my back for a minute.

 It was an exercise of patience trying to photograph the two cakes while the husband and child circled around me like vultures. My darling child who shies away from cakes (!!! why?! whhhhhyyyy?!) scarfed down the entire Paris Brest. It was THAT good. The choux pastry takes on a more contemporary design instead of the traditional "wheel" shape (it is meant to be shaped like a bicycle wheel) filled like delicious creamy praline. It wasn't overly saccharine nor creamy. It was just.......... perfection.

I detest frostings of any kind but chocolate ganache.....*swoon* is right up my alley. A mouthful of Grand Cru is like sinking my teeth into a soft chocolate pillow of mousse but with varying textures.

I'll have you know that I trekked all the way to Marylebone in the freezing cold and rain just to get a couple of treats from La Patisserie des Reves. I then carried the box ever so carefully home from London to Hampshire via a slow train only to manage 2 small bites before the dessert dematerialized before my eyes. Pffffffttttt.

Just so you know..... Monsieur Philippe Conticini did not pay me to wax lyrical over a couple of cakes........... This is not really a review but if you ever EVER go to the famed patisserie either at Marylebone or Kensington, get yourself a Paris Brest or chocolate Grand Cru. Forget shopping. Just treat yourself to these two unbelievably divine traditional French patisserie.

Food for thought

Sunday, 1 February 2015
instant ramen 3.1- lunchbox
instant ramen 5

Here's a way to create the healthiest instant ramen without resorting to packet noodles filled with artificial flavorings and preservatives. And yes, you can take it to work too. A piping hot meal in minutes.

2015-01-17 06.53.20 1

I was thrilled when a close childhood friend of mine, Christine agreed to be interviewed for the Beauty Secrets series over at Swoon Mag. By the way, this photo was taken with an iPhone. No photoshopping. Nada. And yup, she's 41. And what's more....she's not only beautiful and smart, she's one of the most thoughtful and nicest people I know.

Recently, Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York featured the principal. teachers and students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a school in Brownsville, a high crime and poverty ridden area in Brooklyn. He has raised well over a millions dollars (thanks to readers all over the world) and counting. The funds will provide scholarships and funding for trips to Harvard and summer camps for the next 10 years. It's an incredible feat. What's'll help many underprivileged students and change the next generation for the better. More on this here.

Vietnamese Pho, dessert & shopping

Wednesday, 28 January 2015
spring roll
mama pho - pho1

Once upon a time.......actually nearly 7 years ago when we landed on the British shores, we met up with fellow Kiwi contingent fairly regularly. As we were the only ones with a child, it was easier to navigate through the convoluted schedules that everyone had. And then kids happened. There was a sudden baby boom (have you ever noticed that when one friend gets pregnant, pretty much the entire group race to get their bun in the oven???) and then life became even more complicated. Before we realized, nearly 15 months had flashed past before we even spoke to each other.

We had a chance to catch up in the Cutty Sark area. Rather than rushing about in the cold, we decided to nip into the small Vietnamese joint - Mama Pho in Deptford. It's the kind of eatery that I love. Unpretentious, authentic and affordable mom and pop restaurant.  It belongs to the same family who runs the popular Cafe East near Canada Water (or Surrey Quays) tube station. Everything on the menu is priced at well under £9.

chickensoup with beef
beef pho
all dishes

I'm not sure whether they thought I was some kind of important food critic or blogger I started taking photos of my dessert drink, one of their staff dashed over and grabbed the two glasses stating that they "didn't finish making it". I could be wrong but all they did was dumped more ice and water which made the drink tasted rather bland. Crunching through globs of half melted ice cubes wasn't all that pleasant either.

The thin and crispy fried spring roll was lip smacking delicious. Heck, anything fried tastes incredible these days. My beef pho was good. Not exactly.... I-have-to-eat-this-again-or-I-will-die good but their dishes are pretty darned scrummy for those who're craving Vietnamese fare in London.


Our friends recommended Jamie's Italian restaurant for dessert. Both the tangy pineapple with frozen yoghurt and epic brownie were a hit with the kids. Surprise. Surprise. You never have to force your kids to eat desserts. I have had my fair share of brownies and make my own too. These ones were surprisingly tasty and not overly sweet like many that are sold in bakeries.

2015-01-25 10.37.20 1
Outfit: Isabel Marant Lexy jacket (similar), Alexander Wang t-shirt, Hermes belt, Zara jeans, Tophop ankle boots, Johnstons of Elgin cashmere scarf, Hermes watch.

Don't you just love the wide angle lens on smartphones? They make your legs longer and skinnier than they actually are. The grainy shots wiped out all my wrinkles too. Yay! I visited Fenwick for the first time ever to catch up with another friend and client. I was tempted by the much reduced lilac Markus Lupfer sweater (hanging by the wall) but decided I'm far FAR more comfortable in Uniqlo cotton cashmere sweaters. They're remarkably soft and so affordable (£24.95!!). I prefer the slouchy look and ended up with an XL because I like the longer length. It hides the muffin top especially when I've had a dessert....or two.

Mama Pho
24a Evelyn St
Tube: Surrey Quays

Jamie's Italian
17-19 Nelson Rd
SE10 9JB
Tube: Cutty Sark (DLR)


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