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The Sweet Scent of the Maldives

Usually I give blog competitions a miss, but sometimes the lure of an incredible prize and a fun challenge is too hard to ignore, and that is definitely the case with Kuoni’s incredible Scents of Adventure competition.

They’re asking people to get their thinking cap on and come up with the signature scent of a country to add the finishing touch to a poster that will hand in the Bluewater store. The rest of the countries are already completed (coffee for Brazil, apple pie for the USA and so on) which leaves one last island nation to get its representation; the Maldives. The prize, of course, is a trip there to experience the sights, sounds and smells for yourself. How could I resist?

What to buy from Sephora now they ship to the UK

What To Buy From Sephora Now There’s UK Shipping!

Sephora is finally available in the UK again! I first discovered the French beauty mecca on school exchange trips to Caen, and briefly enjoyed a time when there were some branches in the UK in shopping centres like Merry Hill and Brent Cross. Alas, the world wasn’t ready for a high end beauty shop back then, and Sephora pulled out of the UK in the mid-2000s. Since then, most of us have come to know the brand for its incredible US stores, full of brands we can rarely find (or afford) in the UK. Even with today’s rubbish exchange rate, it’s still cheaper to buy a lot of brands in the USA, so when I discovered that the US site is now shipping to the UK I couldn’t wait to share the news! When I did so on twitter, Selena asked me if I’d share my tips on what to buy, and of course I couldn’t be happier to ramble on about the beauty products I love and covet! So scroll down for my tips on the best brands to grab from Sephora while you can.

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If You’re Going To San Francisco…

One of the perks of my job is that I’ve been lucky enough to visit head office in San Francisco a couple of times. It’s such a great part of the job, not just because it means I get to put faces to the names I speak to so often by email and phone, but also because it’s such a wonderful city.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places over the last 30 years, but there are only two cities other than my beloved London I’ve visited and thought “I could live here”. One is Melbourne (which one of my best friends did move to, only adding to this feeling) and the other is San Francisco. The general vibe, the various cultural neighbourhoods, and the thriving tech / media industry all feel very familiar, but you could never say it’s like London. California and England are separated by so much, not just the weather…

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The Perfect NYE Party Dress by Bastyan

For me, half of the fun of party season is in the getting ready, so when Bastyan offered me the chance to style up one of their party dresses, I couldn’t resist. Their dresses put modern spins on classic formal shapes, from cutouts at the waist to sheer panels and embroidered details. I wasn’t so sure on the styles that flashed the flesh and I knew I wouldn’t get much wear out of one of the more formal maxi dresses, so the dress I chose was the Sophia, a fitted black pencil dress with a gathered section, sheer 3/4 length sleeves and a curved plunge neckline. It’s one of those dresses that looks quite innocuous until you put it on. Then you realise what a difference a clever cut can make…

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‘Cos I’m Cooler Than The Red Dress…

One of the problems with doing Dressember is finding enough dresses that are warm enough for one of the coldest months of the year. I have a predisposition for things that are a lot lighter and more summery (hello, floral cotton), which means I often end up spending most of my Winter freezing cold. So when East offered me the chance to try one of their dresses, I decided to go with my brain, rather than my gut, and test out the pleated merino dress (£99), which is the perfect design for colder temperatures…

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“Apart from being very disappointed not to see my favourite reindeer jumper again…”

Christmas outfit planning began for me on 11th September, when I got a text from my mum that read “No Santa outfits this year. Gotta have a Christmas jumper”. We’ve always been a fancy dress obsessed family, and I do think this photo from last Christmas will take a lot of beating, but if anything can do it, some Mark Darcy-esque Christmas jumpers are probably a good place to start. So began the search for the perfect knit! Enter my festive fairy godmothers, New Look, who sent me my first Christmas present of the year, a stocking of goodies and (natch) a suitably festive Christmas jumper…

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I’m back for Dressember 2013

*tap tap*…is this thing on? And more importantly, is anyone still listening?

Last time I updated this blog it was the middle of Summer. Now it’s the last day of November and I can’t believe how quickly the second half of the year has gone. I turned 30 at the beginning of August and promptly jumped on a plane to the US for three weeks of training for my new job. Going back to a role that gave me more time to write day-to-day has definitely affected my motivation when it comes to this blog, and I’d all but decided to just write the rest of the year off and start fresh in January. But why wait another month?

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Tried & Tested: Clarks ‘Deva’ summer sandals

I know that Clarks has a bit of a frumpy reputation amongst fashion fans, with their shoes often sacrificing style for comfort. But I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with the brand, particularly their summer sandals. In 2006 I fell so in love with a pair of flat sandals with sequin covered twisted ribbon uppers called ‘Saskia’ that I ended up owning them in three different colours (they were a rip-off of a Chloe sandal I could only dream of). Last year, I bought a pair of 70s style platform sandals with a perforated leather upper that one colleague described as “gross” but I loved to pieces. You just can’t beat the comfort of a pair of Clarks shoes…