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Shopping: Lulu Guinness for Uniqlo Shopping Event

I've already written about how much I love the new Uniqlo collaboration with Lulu Guinness, but when there was an opportunity to shop the collection with 20% off obviously I took it with both hands!

Just like the Laura Ashley event last month, this event was held in the flagship Uniqlo store on Oxford St in association with Stylist Magazine. There were loads of things going on throughout the store, including a hairdresser:

...a nail salon...

...and the best section, the FREE pick 'n' mix complete with Laduree macaroons!

Waitresses were handing out free cranberry or elderflower cocktails, decorated with signature Lulu Guinness lips.

And there was even a chance to meet the designer in person!

Of course, I bought a couple more things (with discount I couldn't resist). I'm so pleased that I shopped the collection when it first came out, as the top I bought last time has apparently sold out! But I did get this cute t-shirt that is VERY Lulu Guinness!

And a great breton stripe dress, all prepped for spring when it finally decides to hit!

With each purchase shoppers got a free copy of Grazia and some limited edition Lulu Guinness postcards. 

I love these Uniqlo events, they are so well thought out and considering they are free I'm amazed how many freebies you can get! Sign up to the Uniqlo or Stylist newsletters to keep up to date with any future events.

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Fashion: My three dream purchases

I'm not a fashion expert, I don't pretend to be. I, like most other females, love to shop, love clothes, and I lovelovelove getting a bargain. And that's the main premise of this blog really, the bargains that I find and sharing them with other thrifty/poor shoppers. However, I'm not going to act like I wouldn't like certain items if I had the money. I read all the magazines and there's always something new and shiny that I lust after, but despite the fleeting fashion romances there are a couple of luxury items that my mind always wanders back to and would be my first purchases if I had a lottery win.

1) The classic Burberry trench coat is a part of fashion history. Simple and elegant, it's good for all weather and won't date. I wore one to a New Year's Eve party once and hardly paid any attention to the night's festivities for the fear of losing or spilling something on it.

2) For a long time I was obsessed with the Mulberry Bayswater, but the Travel Day Bag has completely converted me. Every woman knows that finding the right black handbag is impossible. Just like finding the ultimate pair of jeans or the comfiest bra. I know that if I had this bag that my search would be over!

3) I've got so many black boots - military style, round toe, calf length. But I could actually get rid of all of them if I had a pair of Acne Pistols. Genuinely. When a colleague showed me her pair at lunch the other day I almost rugby tackled her to the floor (she looked about a size 7 too!).

A girl can dream!

Explore: Marilyn Monroe Exhibition at Getty Gallery, London

Marilyn Monroe is one of those names that has gone down in history in association with glamour and beauty, and regardless if you've never seen any of her films, you'll still know exactly who she is. The exhibit currently on at the Getty Gallery in central London showcases stunning and intimate photographs of Marilyn at her most vulnerable, both on set, behind the scenes, and at home.

I hadn't realised that the exhibition wasn't just photos, it also has a number of original outfits worn by Monroe in some of her most famous roles. 

To see this dress from Some Like it Hot literally made me do a squeal of excitement. I know every line in that film and have watched it more times than I care to remember, and I could just picture Marilyn in the barely there frock on the mannequin in front of me. Amazing.

The Getty Gallery is a tiny space on Eastcastle St, a stones throw from Oxford Street and the exhibit is free. On until 23rd May so go on your lunch break or take a wander on a Saturday afternoon to get away from the crowds.

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Fashion: Tina Lilienthal jewellery

Have you ever been to the mahoosive Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road? It's pretty much the mecca of stationery and make my purse have palpitations as soon as I get near it. I was mooching around there one lunch break, browsing their amazing sale when I went to the second floor where the coffee shop is. It turns out that that floor is where the premium, fancy stock is kept and my magpie eye was drawn instantly to the jewellery of Tina Lilienthal

Now I normally write about things to do on a budget, but for this range I'm making an exception. I didn't buy anything sadly, but it is beautiful!

A mix of neon, skulls and matte black, it's pretty much everything I look for in my accessories. This necklace with antlers is bizarre and fabulous:

Some of my other favourites include:

I'd better start saving! Let me know where you buy jewellery that's a bit different from the norm.

All photos from

Food: Burger & Lobster

Pic from
Hidden down a little street in Mayfair is a queue of people. To get a table at Burger and Lobster you have to time your arrival perfectly. As another one of London's new 'no reservation' restaurants (like Pitt Cue Co), the place has an air of exclusivity to it. It's not a case of waiting months for a reservation, the only way to get a table is to turn up and hope for the best. I arrived at about 5.45 and got my name on the waiting list for a table for 3. It took just over an hour for us to get seated, but that's nothing. Parties arriving at 6.30 were being told they'd have at least a 2.5 hour wait. But people waited!

This is the Ronseal of restaurants; it does exactly what it says on the tin. The name of restaurant hides behind nothing. That IS the menu. Waiting staff patiently reel it from memory and let you make your choice:

Whole lobster (of varying sizes and prices) - pre-cracked so it's easy to eat
Lobster roll - in brioche bun with Italian mayonnaise
Beef burger - some fancy corn fed thing, with bacon and/or cheese, again in a brioche bun

You'd think it'd be simple deciding, but what if you choose the wrong one?! I felt I should go for lobster as it's not very often I go to restaurants that serve it, but to be honest, I just don't like it that much and I couldn't turn down a big fat burger.

I didn't regret my choice. This was a BEAST of a burger and it was so so good! Cooked exactly how I like it, with the crunchiest, saltiest fries and a leafy parmesan salad on the side, you instantly forgave the ridiculous queues to get in and understand why London loves this place. This is simple but good quality food. Everything on the menu is the same price of £20 (unless you order a bigger lobster), so you know what you're getting yourself into.

It seems a little biased towards those who can afford to not be at work at 3pm on a Tuesday when you inevitably won't have to queue (everyone who was leaving as I arrived had a Hermes or Chanel handbag - exhibit A!), but then it's Mayfair - what can you expect? The staff however were down to earth, the food was great, and I'd definitely go again. It makes my lunch look pathetic now...

All other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Shopping: Lulu Guinness for Uniqlo

Another month, another Uniqlo collaboration. I love Uniqlo for getting well made and long lasting basics, but they are really making a name for themselves with all the recent pairings with famous designers, and as someone who shops on a budget and can't afford the real thing, I love them even more for it.

You may have seen my post on the Laura Ashley range they brought out a few months ago (and which can still be found in shops and online), and news about the Orla Kierly collab of which I didn't get anything from (although I adored the slippers!). This time it's the turn of Lulu Guinness.

She's most famous for her use of lips, especially on her gorgeous clutch bags like this beauty:

And these can be seen on a number of the t-shirts available from Uniqlo, seen online.

I settled for this very basic but oh so pretty top which reminds me of a cameo necklace mixed with a postage stamp. 

I'm trying to buy more plain tees at the moment so I can make more use of my ever growing necklace collection. I know prints are all the rage at the moment and I am embracing some of them, but sometimes there's nothing better than a pair of well fitting jeans and white t-shirt for simple fashion.

Let me know if you've bought anything from any of the Uniqlo ranges recently!

Food: Wahaca

There are so many places to eat in London that it's hard not to get overwhelmed. The pressure is on to find the next amazing place that's hidden down a seemingly skanky side street that serves homemade, organic, fresh food that's been in the family recipe book for that last century. I feel guilty going to Pizza Express or Nando's all the time (although not guilty enough to stop) when there are inevitably better restaurants that aren't part of a generic chain found around the country.

The Wahaca menu
But I've found a compromise. Wahaca is a chain, but at present can only be found in London. It's big enough to be known by everyone, but is small enough to be ignored by people who aren't brave enough to give it a try. I've been promising myself I'd write a post on this place for months as it's a regular haunt of mine - the new go-to favourite for me and the Bloke, and a safe bet for taking visiting friends from out of town. So finally here it is!

Wahaca was set up by previous winner of MasterChef Thomasina Miers and serves up Mexican delicacies. They offer a range of mains, but we always settle for the street food - small dishes to share, in the same was as tapas.

You get to choose between tostadas, quesadillas, tortillas and taquitos as well as other sides and extras. Have as many as you like, fill up the table and order more if necessary! It all has a relaxed and informal feel - leaning over and sharing, eating with your hands, stacking up plates.

Having been to both the Soho and Covent Garden branches I've now got my favourite dishes down to a fine art: chicken taquito, chorizo and potato quesadillas, and pulled pork tacos with a side of sweet potatoes, or refried beans with cheese. Oh and the chicken wings. And churros for dessert, obviously. All have different tastes, textures and ways of being eaten. By the end I'm full up, dirty and tempted to order more.

And being a Mexican restaurant, Wahaca provides a massive array of tequilas to try if you're feeling like making a night of it! The Mexican theme isn't caricatured, you won't find miserable waiters in sombreros. The only thing it wants to be authentic is the food which is refreshing and much less headache inducing. The small touches like the book of chilli seeds given with your bill instead of a book of matches makes you smile and take the food with you. 

Visit Wahaca in 6 locations across the city.

All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Geek: Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour

I've read every book, seen every film, queued outside Waterstones for Deathly Hallows and cried when Snape died. I'm not ashamed to say I bloody love Harry Potter. The opening of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour gives fans a chance to walk through the sets from the films, see props and costumes and geek the hell out. We bought our tickets in September and finally April 7th rolled round. As huge Harry Potter fans, me and my sister were literally bouncing all the way to Leavesden Studios (in the HP branded bus of course!) in Hertfordshire with sheer excitement. 

The shuttle bus from Watford Jct station to the studios
With our liquid eyeliner lightning bolt scars on our foreheads there was quite a lot of restrained squealing as we entered the building and saw huge cast photos all over the walls.

The cast photos around the entrance
The tour initially took us into a small cinema showing a history of the Harry Potter film series before the screen rolled up and, making us feel like 1st year Hogwarts students, revealed the famous doors to the Great Hall. They opened to reveal the real set all the films had been filmed in - with the long House tables, the wall carvings and flag stone floor. We were like kids in a candy store!

At the entrance to the Great Hall

Inside the Great Hall.
Top left: The house tables ready for a feast
Top right:The Hogwarts insignia above the fire
Bottom left: A place setting on the tables
Bottom right: The house points counter

And I couldn't resist re-enacting the scene from Philosopher's Stone where Professor Quirrel bursts in screaming 'TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!' My sister took a video and I'll add it when she's uploaded it!

We then made our way through various sections where sets had been set up of some of the most famous scenes. It was so bizarre to see all the familiar places we'd seen on screen a million times right in front of us!

Top left: Gryffindor 6th form common room
Top right: Harry's bed
Bottom left: Dumdledore's office
Bottom left: The Potions lab
And the original costumes could be seen too. It's testament to the costume designers and wardrobe staff that some really seemingly plain clothes like the pink v-neck jumper Hermione wears in a lot of Deathly Hallows Pt II is so recognisable even though Emma Watson isn't wearing it.

Left: Costumes from the Yule Ball. Right: Dumdledore's robes
Left: The invisibility cloak. Right: Prof Umbridge's pink combinations
The green screen area showed how amazing scenes like Quidditch matches and travelling to a vault in Gringotts area actually very bland. You have the props but no scenery, it's easy for us to imagine as we've already seen the film, but the actors have to...well...act!

Top left: Hagrid's bike and sidecar. Top right: Broomstick for Quidditch
Bottom: A car at Gringotts Bank
My favourite bit was seeing the masses of props that make the film have so much character. They were all recognisable and unique, it must be so much fun to come up with them!

Top left: The rules by Professor Umbridge
Top right: The Mirror of Erised
Bottom left: The Triwizard Cup and Golden Egg
Bottom right: Rita Skeeter's notebook and quick quotes quill
Top left: Hogwarts Express tickets
Top right: Potions ingredients
Bottom left: U-No-Poo sweets
Bottom right: Hogwarts' text book
The outside section of the tour allowed us to really indulge and get involved with the sets, from standing on the Knight Bus to visiting Privet Drive.

In the car from The Chamber of Secrets
And we got to taste Butterbeer! It was surprisingly nice actually!

Diagon Alley was so magical, it really was like being in the films! Walking through I got very snap happy as each shop was so unique and had signs, props, lights and exteriors completely unique to them. I loved Flourish & Blotts with it's Giledroy Lockhart display, and my sister (who has an unhealthy obsession with the Weasley twins) bounced right up to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes for a pic.

Top left: Scribbulus
Top right: Ollivander's
Bottom left: Flourish & Blott's
Bottom right: Weasley's Wizard Wheezes
The final section was the art department where we saw all of the intricate drawings and paper models used to plan scale models and CGI of buildings, vehicles and large props.

Models and sketches from the Art Dept section
The pièce de résistance was the, frankly, fricking HUGE model of Hogwarts. It was incredibly detailed and was actually used for the films with special effects used to shrink the actors rather than scale up the building!

The tour may have been finished but then we hit the gift shop. Oh dear. It was amazing! It had real props from the films all around and literally every souvenir you could wish for, from Hogwarts uniforms to Honeydukes sweets. I bought a Gryffindor scarf, and my sister got a replica of Dumbledore's elder wand and a Marauder's Map. 

If you love Harry Potter you MUST make the effort to go to this attraction. We had so much fun geeking out at all the authentic props and sets pretending we were witches in the making. I'm even tempted to go again...

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Food: Tapped & Packed

One thing I love about working in central London is if you need something you can get it. One of the world's most famous shopping streets is just around the corner from my office, but I'm not here to talk about tourist traps. The best thing about working so centrally is that you get to discover the amazing places hidden in London's side streets, away from the crowds and loved by locals.

My latest discovery is the coffee shop Tapped and Packed on Rathbone St. 

It is the most unassuming place, I wasn't initially even sure if I should go in. But the sparse interior is full of little treasures and attention to detail that I love. The milk bottles were adorable, and the vintage teaspoons in the empty treacle tins that held the coarse brown sugar made me completely snap happy!

I'm not a coffee drinker, instead I was after the cake! Look at this Victoria sponge, the portion is ridiculous! I ended up taking the rest back to my colleague as I couldn't finish it!

Tapped & Packed is on Rathbone Place and now on Tottenham Court Road - a much better (and cheaper) alternative to a boring old Starbucks.

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As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review