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Monthly Mixtape #4

This month has seen my playlist has been inspired by celebrity news stories, festival line-ups and a corker of a new release. As ever, you can follow my favourite tunes playlist, Good Things, on Spotify here and let me know what you've been listening to!

Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work by Solange

It was the now infamous video of Solange losing her shit at Jay-Z in a lift after the Met Gala that reminded me of how much I love this song. I'm surprised by how many people only know her as Beyonce's sister, when she's very much a great musician (and style icon) in her own right. If you haven't listened to her before, this is a good place to start.

Diggers by Bitter Ruin

FINALLY Bitter Ruin have released a fully fledged album. It's been a long time coming, but it has been worth the wait. As I said with SOHN last month, it's so rare nowadays that I hear a new album and listen to it from beginning to end and completely fall in love, but Waves actually made me tear up when I first listened to it. The opening track Diggers is the epitome of what Bitter Ruin create: haunting, melodic and stunning. Please listen and then buy this album to support a fledgling talent that could be (and should be) a massive musical force.

Everything is Embarrassing by Sky Ferreira

It's a mere week until I head off to Field Day, so I've been filling my ears with all the bands I plan on seeing. I'm super excited to see Sky Ferreira. She is reminiscent of Ladytron, with soft electronic vocals and repetitive choruses, but rather than leaning towards an industrial feel, it's a lot more pop focused. Plus she always rocks an awesome outfit on stage, so there's a lot of opportunities for fan girling!

Miss Alissa by Eagles of Death Metal

Thanks to that Nike World Cup advert, this song has been in my head for about two weeks straight. I have it somewhere in the depths of my iTunes, but it's been bumped right up into my favourites on Spotify recently because it is so damn catchy. It's frantic, high-pitched and a bit stupid - definitely something to inspire you to get through a busy tube station a bit quicker!

I Want to Try This: Frostbeard Book Scented Candles

As much as I love my Kindle for convenience, there is nothing better than starting a love affair with a new book. They say that smells can evoke powerful memories; for me, the smell of ink on paper stirs something in me that rushes through fond thoughts of my favourite novels. I remember crying in the back of my parents' car the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird aged 15, and reading Vernon God Little out loud to my friends in a tent at a very wet Download festival, and attempting to hold the final Harry Potter book in one hand while I read it at 1am on the day of its release. 

That's why I'm completely intrigued by Frostbeard's Book Scented Candles. They've taken the iconic parts of globally loved novels and turned them into actual smells to make you feel as though you're really there. I can't think of a more perfect gift for the extreme bibliophiles in my life, and obviously, for me too! My favourite? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy inspired 'Don't Panic (Fresh Towel)' scent.

Check out Frostbeard's full range on Etsy and let me know which one is your favourite!

Jungle Fever: Leopard Print, Leaf Shaped Necklace

I'm wearing:
Sunglasses: Miu Miu
Kimono - Cotton On (in Sydney)
Necklace - Tatty Devine (sample sale)
Jeans - Topshop £38 (similar here)
Shoes - some shop in Melbourne

I cannot dress for summer. I don't like revealing too much skin, I'm not really much of a dress person, and really I couldn't be happier than when I can wear a big chunky jumper and a pair of boots. BUT I love the sunshine and I can't wait for the weather to just make it's bloody mind up and stay warm for more than two days. So this is my mid-way "it's kind of hot but I still want to wear jeans" outfit. I am a leopard print aficionado and this kimono was a quick fix purchase while I was in Sydney to shield off the intermittent showers (NOT what I signed up for, Australia!). It's lightweight and floaty and can be chucked over anything. I accidentally embraced the jungle theme with my Tatty Devine leaf necklace, but I feel that west London is lacking in safari mentality so I'm just doing my bit for nature. I'm tempted to get this top from Ted Baker and wear the leaf necklace with it, but I'll have to weigh up whether that's too much or surprisingly genius. Let me know what you think!

Ted Baker Tropical Dove Top reduced to £36 at John Lewis

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium

It was while I was sat in a beautiful Bondi Beach apartment in Sydney that I started to dread coming back to London, even with three weeks to go until my return. I started searching for things to do when I got back to dull the blow of coming back to reality, and in my quest I booked a table for me and the housemate at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, London's first cat cafe. I was one of many who donated to their original Kickstarter project, and to a digital fan fare, they finally opened earlier this year on Bethnal Green Road. I've been following them on social media for my daily cute overdose, but there isn't enough squealing for when you actually get in there.

You're invited in to a small room before entering the actual cafe so you can wash your hands, be reminded not to feed the kitties (they're lactose intolerant so a saucer of milk is a no-go!) and to let sleeping cats lie (that's the phrase, right?). Once you're in, you can sit at any of tables or sofas and you're encouraged to move around to see as many of the cats as possible. You get allocated a two hour slot which is perfect, especially considering that when we first arrived most of the cats were fast asleep and showed no signs of wanting to play.

Be under no illusions, the cats have full reign here. They can sit where they please, they'll sniff whatever looks interesting, and if you have a plastic bag they are likely to think it's the best thing since cat Christmas. There are boxes of toys, huge structures to climb on, hammocks suspended over staircases and cat beds in the windows luring in the tourists of east London. All tables are supplied with hand sanitiser so you can drop the less important task of eating for essential cat stroking if they happen to take an interest in you at any point.

The food is a secondary thought when you book a table, but as it turns out, it's pretty good. We had a ploughman's with a me-sized portion of cheese (any less is a tragic waste of dairy) and a massive slice of banoffee pie to share, before going back to embracing our inner crazy cat ladies. 

Living in London is great, but not having the space for a pet is sometimes really frustrating. But having the opportunity to go and pander over some moggies and eat cake at the same time is a sure-fire winning concept for those of us in need of some animal therapy. 

Click to add a blog post for Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium on Zomato

What I Bought at Seven Dials 20% Event

If you're visiting the tourist death trap of Covent Garden, step away from the piazza (there's only so many street performers you can donate your pennies to) and head north. Tucked in between Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road is a small roundabout with seven streets leading off to some of the best stores in London.

Seven Dials is a little treasure trove of shops including some of my favourite places to browse and, ultimately, spend: smaller brands like Tatty Devine, Bailey Nelson, Cambridge Satchel Co., and well known high street favourites like Urban Outfitters, All Saints and Kiehl's. This weekend they made the whole area a car free zone and let excited pedestrians roam free, claiming 20% off in shops and restaurants, and lounging on a mock-garden on the famous roundabout outside Cambridge Theatre. I had a quick checklist of where I wanted to go but rapidly ran out of time meaning I only made it to two beauty places where I needed some old favourites and wanted to try some new things I've read about on good old faithful Pinterest.

I'd make a crap beauty blogger, because when I find something I love, I very rarely move on to try anything new. Benefit's They're Real mascara (RRP £19.50) is one of my basics that I can't imagine ever replacing, and I have genuinely been asked if my lashes are real when wearing it. Gone are the days where I used to wear lots of eye make-up (my 14 year old self hates me for ditching the liquid black eyeliner so callously), but I actually don't look awake without mascara to prop open my sleepy eyes. It's the last piece of make-up I put on in the mornings and as we all know, the final touch is almost the most important.

I've been curious about the Shu Uemura cleansing oils for a while, as every beauty buff seems to rave about them. They are, however, quite pricey, so the 20% deal was the chance I needed to give it a try without regretting the spend. After three days of using the classic high performance balancing cleansing oil (RRP £30 150ml) twice a day, I felt compelled to shout from the bathroom to my housemate to tell her how fricking awesome my pores looked. Normally huge and open, they have been reduced drastically, something of a miracle in my opinion. I have oily combination skin and have been wary of using an oil to cleanse with, but after massaging this into my face and emulsifying it with water, my skin feels smooth and moisturised, not greasy. It's a hard task to find something that doesn't make my face feel as greasy as a chip pan, or as dry as a desert (seriously, it's one extreme to the other here), but early signs are signalling that this is a winner.

On a total whim, I also bought a new lipstick from Shu Uemura (RRP £20) too. I've seen so many people wearing orange tones and surprisingly, they don't look like they've just been drinking a lot of Irn Bru, so I figured I'd give it a go. The matte finish keeps it subtle, and although I have found it a little drying so far, the colour is perfect for everyday wear. I'll get some pics of me wearing it soon as the colour here looks much more pink (that'd be a result of taking photos in dim light with an iPhone!).

For more events from Seven Dials, make sure you sign up for their mailing list (that's how I found out it was going on!).

Embracing Double Denim

Shirt: Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses: Tatty Devine
Shoes: Some random shop on Melbourne's Flinders Lane

Did you know that double denim is also known as 'the Canadian tuxedo'? Or so a friend from that part of the world told me anyway. It's lacking a bow tie, but aside from that it's still pretty special. I've always thought it takes a certain amount of lady balls to pull off such a matching combo, and especially if you manage not to look like you're going to a hoedown. I'm not sure quite what came over me when I put this outfit on but as my day consisted of a blissful amount of alone time at the hairdressers and the Tatty Devine sample sale (where my sunglasses came from!), I figured that at least if I looked stupid, no one I knew would see me. 

But actually I don't think I looked all that stupid. Obviously polka dots helped the matter too. I don't tend to wear shirts that often because I have just a little too much boob to pass of the androgynous look with style, but with jeans it's less about undisclosed gender styling and more about the fact you're wearing a lot of the same material. It's pretty much colour blocking really, isn't it?

And yes, I've fallen prey to the clumpy sandal trend, although in my defence, I did buy these in February in Melbourne just because I thought they were pretty. Let me tell you that trying to squeeze a huge pair of shoes into a tiny hand luggage bag back to Sydney is not an easy feat, but was of course completely worth it. This was the first time I'd worn them and they are so unbelievably comfortable that even three hours in the Tatty Devine queue wasn't a strain. Plus they look awesome.

What do you think of double denim?

Food: Big Easy, Covent Garden

Living in London, I've discovered that trends in food come around as much as trends in fashion. No reservations were huge for a while but thankfully that seems to be less frequent recently; then everywhere was 'the best burger in town', and now it seems to be barbecue. I'm a big fan of Pitt Cue Co, the tiny little place near Carnaby Street that has the best mashed potato I've ever had in my life. I'm planning a trip to One Sixty Smokehouse in West Hampstead soon, and while all of this food porn on Instagram is going on, I spotted a lot of people heading to Big Easy

Big Easy has an outpost in Chelsea already, and their new place in Covent Garden has gained a huge amount of publicity recently, meaning it's near on impossible to get a table at a weekend. We embraced the chance to leave the office early before a Bank Holiday and get a early dinner sitting. Honestly, I swear we didn't think we'd ordered that much but when it all turned up my jaw would've hit the table if there had been any part of it that wasn't covered in food!

We went for half a lobster and the Taste O'Rama which is supposed to be for one person but consists of Pit-Smoked Bar.B.Q Chicken, three Dry-Rubbed St Louis Pork Ribs, Carolina Pulled Pork, smoked baked beans, slaw and potato salad. And we chucked some macaroni cheese in there for good measure too. You could say we had quite a bit, but that would be an understatement. That would also imply that we didn't order dessert and we totally did; I can highly recommend the waffles with apple and cinnamon!

We had some great drinks too. I went for a 'boozy juice' of Bulleit Bourbon whiskey and apple juice that was freshly pressed at the bar. The difference between fresh juice and from a carton is so noticeable, especially when mixed with such a delicious bourbon, it was far too easy to drink and was the refreshment I needed with such a heavy meal. My cousin had a Dirty Martini which was served in the most ingenious way: it came in a small decanter sat in a glass of ice in order to keep it cold, but not water it down, and a small shot glass to drink it from. 

If you're looking for an affordable meal that will fill you up for the next 24 hours, Big Easy is your place. There's no point in going for a romantic meal here, it's all about the stomach stretching portions and huge array of cocktails; go with friends, share dishes, and wear a stretchy waistband.
Click to add a blog post for The Big Easy on Zomato

What I Bought at the Tatty Devine Sample Sale

Tatty Devine is a store that, for me, epitomises British style and design. It's eccentricity is equal to it's beauty, and with every item being handmade in London you know you're supporting local businesses in the name of rocking some awesome jewellery. I have a few pieces from them already and they are the stand out pieces in my accessories collection. So when the chance of a sample sale came up, I was extremely excited to get some bargains. I completely underestimated how popular the sale would be; when I turned up at 12.30pm the queue was already around the corner from the Brick Lane store. Luckily I had taken my Kindle with me, and the lovely fans of Tatty Devine made for some wonderful queue buddies, supplying me with water and a famous Brick Lane Beigel!

When the time came for me to go in (it was a one in/one out situation), I headed straight to the back where I'd been tipped off by the staff that some of the amazing eyelash sunglasses were still sat. My hands were actually shaking when I grabbed a pair, I've wanted them forever and couldn't believe I was getting them for a quarter of the price!

I may have gone slightly overboard with what I got, the bargains were just too much to ignore. I managed to nab the beautiful La Luna necklace which I've had my eye on for a while, plus a necklace from the planetary collection and an enormous leaf necklace which is mental but let's face it, necessary.

Yes, I queued for near on three hours, but there were still so many bargains to be found and the staff were all so friendly and helpful. I'll definitely be heading down again next year, but this time I'll be there at 9am with the intention of being one of the first to dig around.

Did you manage to get to the sample sale? Let me know what you managed to get if you went down!

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Fancy Dress Party

"It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeeear!"

I'm pretty sure that song was written for Christmas and Eurovision. Both are times for stupid outfits, lots of food and alcohol-induced group singing, so they're obviously two of my favourite holidays. This year we saw Eurovision in in style and had a party to see the wind machine and pyrotechnics accompanied by a few European beverages.

Fancy dress is an almost essential part of any Eurovision party and what's the point in it if you take it too seriously?! Serious is not in the nature of this wonderful musical event, and my outfit cost me a grand total of £0. Any idea who I might have been supporting?! We had all sorts make an effort including the Swedish chef, Manuel from Fawlty Towers who made his Spanish speciality of sangria (special ingredient: whatever induces a massive hangover), and a UK patriot who embraced all the sequins in true Eurovision style.

I even managed to do a pretty good Conchita Wurst impression with the help of an odd sock and a GCSE in Drama enabling me to cry on the spot.

In all seriousness though, her win is an amazing step in the right direction for humanity and a huge kick in the proverbials for LGBT haters. As one of the biggest UK fans of RuPaul's Drag Race, I love that drag as an art form is being embraced on a global stage. It's more than just putting on a dress, it's about being comfortable with who you are and being a damn good entertainer. She sums up Eurovision pretty perfectly, so bring on Vienna 2015!

Life: April 2014

My first full month back in the country after Australia and Hong Kong was a test of my patience. I missed being away and I resented being back to reality. But that soon cleared up when I got to hang out with some of my favourite people, eat delicious things and reacquaint myself with the fabulous streets of London.

Parting gifts from my wonderful friend before she went back to Hong Kong
Online/offline in Shoreditch
Very impressed with my boyfriend's homemade turkey meatballs!
My gorgeous nephew is growing up so fast!

That is some mouldy cheese in Muswell Hill!
Previously mentioned Hong Kong friend and I in Dishoom
Someone else in Muswell Hill has the same sense of humour as me
Homemade banana and nutella loaves

#selfie in Shoreditch
My big sister's awesome YSL boots
Some bank holiday bling
My head of department brought me back this Cumberbatch special from his BA flight!
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review