A Day at the Opera (Cake)

Did someone say cake? Part 2

If you know me, you’ll know that I am what I call a cake enthusiast… Or y’know a person who just flippin’ loves cake but thinks she deserves a fancier title (is it just me that thinks Miranda Hart would strongly approve of that statement?)  

Whenever it comes to a catch up with a friend what says “let’s have a chinwag” better than cake? Nothing that’s what! Everyone can enjoy cake whether it’s gluten free, dairy free, flourless! Yasssss is what I say!

Well last week I visited the most adorable café that I simply have to share my experience with you all, just in case you ever visit London town.

Boulangerie Jade is a traditional French artisan bakery and patisserie and I know what you’re thinking “well that ticks all the boxes doesn’t it?” You’re darn tootin’ hun. I instantly felt I was back in Paris the moment I walked through the door and it was wonderful to have the feeling in the heart of London. They have four locations, all SE London and but it’s definitely worth travelling out of Central London, not only the cafes but the delightful surroundings. My dear friend chose to visit here as it was her birthday and she was keen to try somewhere new (my kind of mentality!) She decided upon Boulangerie Jade as one of the locations was in East Dulwich (which is such a pretty part of town) and it’s the only one out of the locations that does hot food.

The place felt cosy and warm and the ladies who worked there made you feel extremely welcome. It’s not a particularly large place but nonetheless there were plenty of places to sit and it was clear by the number of people it’s a popular choice with the locals (and this is always a good sign). So before I go anywhere I always tend to scour the menu beforehand, this is because I could talk for England and reading the menu when I meet up with a friend isn’t very high up on my priority list! However…Trying to narrow down a patisserie menu filled to the brim of some of my favourite cakes and pastries, this proved to be incredibly difficult and could have easily ordered 5 things off of the menu…

I didn’t however if that’s what you’re thinking! Cheeky.

I opted for the Opera cake, which is one of the most beautiful combos ever put into cake form, if you’ve never tried it and are a chocolate/coffee obsessive then honestly what are you waiting for?  Again, due to popularity (and no doubt because it’s been featured on the Great British Bake Off) there was only one of these available. But I wanted to my dear friend to have it, as it was her birthday and after all one of us had to have it!! Nevertheless my luck was in when my other favourite was in fact available, another popularised by British Bake Off fame- Millefeuille. The most beautiful flaky pastry sandwiched between layers of crème pâtissère. My idea of heaven basically! We paired it was a couple of their light and creamy coffees and we were two very happy Northern girls!

Having now tried a sampling of their cake and pastry, I would return in a heartbeat and wouldn’t hesitate to try their hot food offerings and leave enough room to try another of the cakes, tarts or pastries.

No matter where in the world you live I think we can all agree that one thing we could always have more of are lovely little cafes, where they provide comforting hot drinks and luxurious desserts that taste so good you can’t even be bothered to feel guilty about devouring.      

NYCC, Mr Lee & Me

If you know me and my penchant for all things nerdy, then you’ll know going to comic conventions is the epitome of what I’d call heaven.

Going to New York is also my idea of heaven and my partner knows this all too well.

So imagine my sheer delight when he contacts me at work to tell me that he managed to score Friday and Saturday passes to New York Comic Con (held every year at the Javits Centre), myfirst ever convention outside of the UK! Well it gave us the incentive to return to our favourite city (as if I’d need a reason!) Mr Lee had been to NYCC a fair few times before, so luckily was able to fully prepare me for not only the size of the convention centre itself, but advise me how chock-a-block (apologies, I mean crowded) it could get and believe me, coming from conventions in the UK nothing can prepare you for the vastness of NYCC!

It was strange because the first thing I experienced wasn’t even at the convention centre itself; it was a few blocks away in another venue and I was awe struck. Mainly because the comic con practically takes over the city and I’ve never seen that happen with a convention before. In London, apart from the shopping bags that are a dead giveaway that you’ve been to comic con, for the most part it’s pretty contained. In New York City, the entire of New York City knows.       

So my first taste of comic con in New York brought me to the main stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom, for a panel I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d ever get to witness.

SpongeBob Appreciation Day, a panel where the cast and creatives of SpongeBob Squarepants not only have a chinwag about how fantastic the show is but also do a live table read of one of the episodes.

Everyday is SpongeBob appreciation day…

Right there, in front of my face.

I died.

Ok dramatic, I didn’t quite do that… But I did cry upon leaving said main stage. Yes, 30 years old me cried because I got to see Tom Kenny (aka SpongeBob) perform the iconic chortle more than once and my 10 year old self was living a childhood dream. Things like that just don’t happen to people like me and that was only my first taste of what was to come, from a jam-packed two days of my nerdy dreamlike state.

Well I proceeded to cry another 2 times, didn’t I? This was over the course of our time at comic con, due to meeting people and attending panels that were making me pinch myself every two seconds, such as my childhood hero Sean Astin and the incomparable Rick Baker (I mean… That right there? GOALS… And that’s just to name a few!)

But aside from the guests, what amazed me about a convention that I suppose from the outset can be seen as someone’s worst nightmare if you have anxiety; it is insanely busy and there’s no  real quiet spot to take a breather, the queue’s for the toilets are constant and the food can be very expensive.

But you know what? I have never felt so at home.

Honestly. There was this feeling of radiating joy from everyone I came into contact with. Everyone around me was extremely kind, polite and so happy to be in this place of utter happiness! I got to meet new people and connect with friends, such as my pal Andre who I’d not seen in a while because he lives so far away. Also, the amount of people who asked if I was going to cosplay whilst there… Now there’s a good reason why I didn’t do this, because THE COSPLAY’S ARE FLIPPING INSANE!! Are you kidding me? If I want to even contemplate cosplay somewhere such as NYCC I seriously need to up my sewing game and soonish! The level of creativity and detail to people’s costumes is quite simply put- something else; it’s on a whole other planet and I just thoroughly enjoyed marvelling (ahem) at people’s hard work. It was beautiful to witness what people had created in person.  

I already know that Mr Lee and I will be returning to NYCC without a shadow of a doubt, and I’m already looking into it for next year.

Some people may say that Disneyland is the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’, but I think it’s fair to say New York Comic Con might be mine.  

I A-Dior You!

“In the world of today, haute couture is one of the last repositories of the marvellous” Christian Dior, 1957

This can be read on the wall as you make your exit from visiting Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, which currently resides at the V&A until September. It’s an exhibition that celebrates the life and career of the man that started it all and the 6 key creative directors that have followed in his footsteps. It’s exquisite, stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. For anyone who loves fashion and artistry, this is both an education and a history lesson. But not one that will put you to sleep! No no, quite the opposite.

With more than 200 dresses on show this entire exhibition basically became a shopping list of everything I can’t have, but would hyperventilate uncontrollably if I did.

From Dior himself to his successors; when seeing all the pieces displayed so perfectly together I felt there was one common theme that the Dior brand has stayed true too.

The essence of femininity.  

Christian Dior’s iconic ‘Bar Suit’ which he called ‘La Ligne Corolle’

This was first demonstrated with Christian’s ‘Bar Suit’ (designed in 1947 and made in 1955). This ground-breaking outfit embraced ladies curves (and believe me, from seeing this in person if you didn’t have curves back then you were guaranteed them just by slipping on this fantastic tailored jacket). Upon his first fashion show in 1947 where he debuted this design it was immediately dubbed the New Look. Fast forward to creative director John Galliano (1996 – 2011) bringing extravagance and theatricality to the runway and now to the present day with Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior’s first ever women creative director, can I get an amen?) Chiuri stands for female empowerment and says with her way of femininity “the message, really, is that there is not one kind of women” (quote from Vogue.com).

Quite simply, whether we’re talking 1955 or 2019 – Dior know women and they know how to dress us.

All of us.  

Walking into the exhibition- from the first moment it felt as though it was lifted straight from the pages of a fairy-tale, almost like Disney’s Cinderella and Dior is your fantastical Fairy Godmother. As you turn each corner; almost holding your breath to see what might await you in the next room, the experience made you feel as though you were permanently in a dreamlike state. Honestly, it’s magical! Although not as emotional as Mcqueen’s Savage Beauty (V&A, 2015), It gave me a lot of the same feelings in terms of the thought and care that has clearly gone into each room.

I’ll be honest, there were so many garments in that exhibition I never ever thought I’d have the opportunity to see… that wasn’t just on the pages of a magazine that is (basically a lot of John Galliano- see the photos above for sheer perfection); and clearly from the literal “oohs” and “ahhs” that emerged from everyone else’s mouths around me I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. It was at a moment like that I realised we were all there for the same reason.

WE J’ADORE DIOR.

At £20 a ticket, honestly it was worth every single penny and more (and if you’re wondering, yes you could take photos!) If you are contemplating a visit, unfortunately lovelies the run is currently sold out however (like the Savage Beauty exhibition) they do release a limited number of tickets at the V&A itself. Also, do keep your eyes peeled online as I’ve noticed they have been releasing more tickets for museum lates!

Victoria and Albert Museum 
Cromwell Road
SW7 2RL
Nearest tube station: South Kensington

It’s Personal!

Hello my lovelies!

As I sit here mulling over Beyoncé’s Homecoming on Netflix (which is pretty incredible if you’ve not seen it yet) with a cup of tea in hand; I’m in awe of how far this fantastical lady has come in her career and also her style. To put it simply she’s a powerhouse. But who else remembers those coordinated Destiny’s Child outfits, every 90s band had them! This got me to thinking about my own metamorphosis, even within the last year! We’re always changing and discovering new things about ourselves and when it comes to my own style (my goodness) this could not be more accurate!

Circa 2009. I soon found out I do not suit footless tights.

It was more apparent when doing one of those 10 year challenges. 2009 I was a completely different person the woman I am now (believe me, ask my parents!). I was young, at a university where I constantly questioned (and was constantly questioned by tutors) whether I truly belonged there, in my first relationship and had a strong love affair with the movies and music of the 80s – which heavily influenced the way that I dressed…

Flash forward to today…

I’m definitely not young anymore (unless 30 is the new 18? Asking for a friend) by next year I’ll have been a graduate for 10 years (well, that’s not scary, at all). Although, I think it’s fair to say I’ve learnt more about my craft and myself in the outside world (yes, that’s me spilling the T) and I’m now in my second relationship (he’s bloody wonderful and here to stay).

March 2019. Same curves, but a style that’s more me.

Through all of this the one part of me that hasn’t changed whatsoever is that of my love for different eras. Before I’d fall in love with a specific point in time and stick to it like glue (the 60’s and Woodstock- the force was strong with this one)! Now I’m able to draw inspiration from different eras and refine them into what I feel my style has become.

You may have guessed already, I’m not exactly a follower of trends. I suppose I’ve always followed the beat of my own drum; which would explain my many (cringe worthy) fashion choices over the years.

Nowadays my personal style is heavily influenced by city fashion specifically Paris and New York, cartoons, classic Hollywood and Mad Men; I know that’s a lot to take in right? Let me explain fully!

I have no doubt in the next year, or even the next 6 months my personal style will change again! Only the other day I raided my (now abysmal) summer clothes and put 7 items in a charity bag! Luckily those were items I’ve been clinging onto for years in the hope that I fall back in love with them… Or should I say that the items fall back in love with me. But they won’t and I’m definitely ok with this break up.

Bon Appétit! Smakelijk! Vær så god!

As my adventure away draws closer I’m beginning to think about what lies ahead at the places I’m about to visit! The excitement is rather overwhelming and slowly bits and pieces are finally coming together.

So, I’ve mentioned previously that on the cruise I’ll be heading to parts of Scandinavia- but to expand (and so you can fully understand my excitement) I’m visiting Brugge, Copenhagen, Skagen and Oslo. I know, right? This is my first taster of what Scandinavia has to offer and I already know that in the future I’ll be planning to head back to some of these places, along with some new ones! This is an area of the world I’ve dreamt about visiting for so long and can’t wait to finally see it for myself. To hone in on one of the major reasons I can’t wait lets discuss one of the greatest things known to man.

Food.

I am a MASSIVE foodie (which is rather hilarious coming from who used to be the pickiest eater. No, I’m not kidding. As I child I was the fussiest eater you ever did meet), and it’s pretty much the main reason I keep visiting Paris (I’ve been 3 times now… Not counting 2 school trips).

There’s just something spectacular about eating local cuisine; whether it’s street food from a food truck, a sit down meal, food on the go (like a good pastry) or eating 3 desserts in one day just so I can try them all… Definitely haven’t done that (I’ve definitely done that).

My favourite meal in the entire world (sorry to betray you beloved pizza) is boeuf bourguignon (see tasty photograph to the left). It’s like a rich beef stew served with boiled potatoes and by god is it incredible! It’s one of those meals that is both extremely hearty and comforting, but also indulgent. Basically it’s just utter perfection. Now I’ll freely admit, I’m stubborn. So stubborn in fact that I waited years to try this dish, as I refused to try it at any of the restaurants in the UK. But I’m so glad I did as it was worth the wait and I eat it every time I visit Paris! However, I’m afraid to say I did the same thing with my now favourite desserts, Crème Brulee and Mille-Feauille. But remember good foods come to those that wait! That’s the saying right?

Where was I again? Apologies lovelies, my tummy just rumbled…

So basically, the hunt for the best Smørrebrød (Danish open sandwich), Rød Pølse (Danish hotdog) and Frikadellar (Danish meatballs) is on!! Not forgetting my sweet tooth (or should that be sweet teeth?) I’ll also be scouting out some delicious Belgian chocolate waffles and a Norwegian bakery in the hopes I can try KrumKake (honestly, google this delight… It sounds amazing!)

Have you ever ventured to this part of the world and know of fantastical foods that I simply have to try? Please contact me through here or Instagram, as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

But I have nothing to wear!

So sorry for my sudden disappearance lovelies!

I recently visited my parents back in my Northern hometown. This means I’ve been drinking all the cups of tea I can muster (the water is marginally different; any Northerner who lives down South will tell you this!) Eating from my favourite takeout place and spending time organising our mother/daughter holiday (or holi-yey, as I tend to refer to it).

I’ve been basically helping my mum put together outfits that can lend themselves to both day and evening wear. Then there’s the dreaded formal wear (dum dum duuuuuuuuum), this I think I’d like explore in another post. So for now let’s stick to prospect of day wear. As I’ve said before I love putting outfits together… Sorry, I don’t think you heard me in the back, I LOVE putting outfits together!! I know some find it easier to purely keep on buying clothes because of the “I don’t have anything to wear” syndrome, and don’t get me wrong we’ve all been there. But I only have so much wardrobe space (yey for city living) and for this holiday I only have one case so I have to think on a small scale.

So for those that do wonder how I put my own outfits together, I’m going to tell you how I do it. Personally I find it makes shopping a much more enjoyable experience and weirdly if the idea of shopping freaks you out a little; it makes it a slightly quicker experience too. These aren’t original ideas, just things I’ve picked up from other stylists along my journey, Trinny and Susannah (for those that remember “What not to wear”), Gok Wan and more recently Lori Goldstein.

Firstly, know your body. For me, this was a crucial life lesson. Like probably a lot of you I’ve spent years hating parts of my body! But it wasn’t until probably the ages of 18 that I started to really get to know what my shape was, even if I still was nowhere near 100% comfortable with my figure yet. I began to learn (over time) what the good parts were (and we all have good bits!!) Then it was a case of what could I do to extenuate those and disguise the parts maybe I wasn’t so happy with. I’ll be honest with ya’ll- my boobs are fairly small and my bum could probably rival Kim Kardashian. Most times I really don’t feel in proportion and the top half of my body feels too petite for the bottom half. Plus I really don’t like my legs, I never have. Ok, now the good bits. This is the hard one right? But if I can bare my soul, so can you! I really like my hair- I know one seems like a cop out, but your hair is your BIGGEST accessory. How your hair is styled can really impact on your outfit choices! My does for sure; having such a severe haircut like a bob can change your whole aesthetic and for me it helped shape the look that I have today. I really like my neck and collar bones- now I know you’re thinking “collar bones? That’s a little weird, no?” Yes, perhaps it is a tad! But again, that space between your neck and chest area can lend itself to so many different necklines. The only one I’d say I honestly dislike on myself is the v-neck (due to my severe lack of breasticles). But when having photographs taken way back in 2010, I had my collar bones compared to that of a Tim Burton movie… This was literally the most amazing compliment you could have given me. So I ran with it!  

So I’ve bared my soul a little and breathe. If you’ve never had the confidence to do this before, why not give a little try and if you’re not ready don’t worry! But like I said before, we all have good bits of our body (even if like me and it’s the slightly quirkier parts); and we all deserve to give ourselves self-love!

Now onto my little shopping trip tips!

Wearing all black is never the answer: I went through a phase of wearing nothing but black. My entire clothing collection was made up of black outfits…. And honestly? I’ve found other colours and even some patterns more slimming on my figure.

Create a mood board or a Pinterest page: this is great if you have an idea of the types of clothes or silhouettes you’d like to be wearing; but haven’t quite made it to the shopping stage yet.  

But if you know exactly what you like to wear- hunt for it eBay: If it’s cheap, you won’t lose anything by trying. I know this seems obvious, but eBay is such a great tool; if you’re not so keen on the whole changing room idea.  

Inject a vintage bag: This tip is for those that might not ready to try vintage clothes shopping yet, but you kind of want to give it ago. Why not go for an accessory instead? It’ll inject some originality and individuality into your day to day wear. I hear those thrift stores, charity shops and eBay calling your name!  

Scenario- you’re going away somewhere and have no idea what to pack: Why not check out with the local fashion is, the locals might give you some inspiration especially when it comes to the year-round weather!

Don’t be afraid of mixing patterns: Honestly, I live by this rule! I genuinely believe you can find patterns that can complement each other. Even if it’s the same pattern in different colours. Don’t be afraid to experiment- fashion is meant to be fun!

Do remember lovelies, these are just little guidelines by and I hope at least one of these can help you in your next shopping venture.

I’m here for all your queries, questions and qualms you may have m’dears, if you think I can help send me your fashion woes and let me help in any way that I can like a Fashion Fairy Godmother!   

Looking Ship Shape

God dag lovelies!

Now that’s just a little hint there of where I’ll be venturing off to soon- but more about that later!

One aspect I’m really enjoying about all this cruise prep is looking at outfits and seeing what clothing combinations I can put together (a capsule wardrobe, if you will and yes I learnt that from Gok Wan). If you know me, you’ll know I absolutely adore fashion (understatement of the century) and that over the years I’ve not been afraid of changing things up and experimenting with my look (apart from the bob, that goes nowhere). I love looking at where I’ll be travelling to and finding outfits that complement the place beautifully. I basically like to bridge the gap between stylish and functional! But I’m chockfull of personal style and can sometimes find it exceptionally difficult to just shop at one store.

Do you feel that way too? It’s really frustrating isn’t it! It just equals more tea and biscuit breaks, if you ask me.

I can however pretty much shop anywhere from Primark and H&M (their basic tee’s are an essential and a lifesaver!) to thrift stores and Lindybop for my key retro or vintage pieces. It takes longer to build a wardrobe that way then I care to admit. However it’s the simple matter of “you like what you like”.

However one person I know who struggles with this is my mumsy. I know over time she’s struggled to walk into a store, pick up more than one item of clothing and then proceed to walk out of that store with said item(s). I think it’s fair to say that unless you can afford designer clothing (Ah, Chanel), my mum’s age is simply not catered for.

I hear some of you exhale slowly, like I’ve just (ever so slightly) crossed over a line. But it’s just something I’ve observed in my many (30) years on this planet.

These extraordinary ladies want to look as stylish as say those in their 20’s and 30’s, and they absolutely deserve too (I mean, look at ladies like Cate Blanchett and Kristen Scott Thomas)! But without the worry that their dressing like their daughter, niece or insert younger relative here. I must admit, as someone who’s been on countless shopping trips with their mum I have seen the high street dwindle (over the years) when it comes to everyday fashion that it almost terrifies me at the prospect of getting older!

Lovelies, if this conversation screams you then please get in touch with me and tell me your fashion agony! Let me see if I can help anyway I can… I say this like I know what I’m talking about.

Now my mum is pretty classy woman (I think she’d be cool with me saying that). She knows exactly what suits her body type and has amazing Marilyn Monroe-esqe curves! However, I’m fully aware that although we both have similar body types she probably wouldn’t wear some of the things that I have in my wardrobe. I think it still astounds her when I can thrift a vintage dress or skirt and walk (aka strut) down the street in it like its Paris Fashion Week. She’ll always respond with “Now if I were to wear that I would just look old”. To clarify my mum does not look old and dresses exceptionally well despite what the high street has to offer.

So my dears I’ve been scouring the internet trying to find clothes and maybe stores that are solely online, in the hope that I find at least one store that provides exactly what women my mum’s age are looking for (that shouldn’t be too hard, right?) It seems such a shame that if you’re over a certain age shopping becomes less fun and more of a chore.

I just want my mum to feel absolutely amazing in whatever she’s wearing (even if it’s a paper bag), because truth be told she is.      

If any of you lovelies have any suggestions of places we could look that maybe we’ve never tried before please I’m all ears (not literally, of course).

Or maybe the answer to all this is “sod the high street Quinn and make your own clothes!!” In a kind of Mel Gibson Braveheart type manner… I mean it is International Women’s Day after all “FREEDOM!!!”