White lies, fresh starts and stupidly expensive handbags.

ShoppingList

Is it just me, or is one of the best things about moving overseas is the opportunity to completely reinventing yourself?

When in New Zealand, I would often live my dream life out when I went to a hairdresser. It sounds crazy (it is), but my reaction to a complete stranger asking me a million questions about my life was to lie. I would tell them I was an actress, or I had twelve brothers, or I was currently writing a murder mystery novel, or whatever took my fancy that day. Unfortunately I found a hairdresser I really liked and wanted to keep seeing, so found myself tangled up in a web of lies. It’s the real reason I upped sticks to Europe. It was getting a bit hard to keep up with.

I digress, basically I like that this life change is giving me the chance to start fresh, like the first page of a notebook. And, as any good stylist knows, the best place to start when reinventing yourself is your wardrobe.

Upon leaving my studio flat in the heart of Auckland, I got rid of almost my entire floordrobe. (Apart from shipping over a few of my absolute favourite pieces). I juice cleansed my fashion “system” (but with less spinach). So, I’ve arrived ready to fill my new wardrobe with all the right choices. And I recon this list is a good place to start…

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A White Shirt This closet classic is a crime to be without. It can be dressed up, or down, and easily taken from the office to…well anywhere you might want to go after the office. Mine (already purchased – it’s that important) is a crisp linen with beautiful, delicate shell buttons. It’s simply gorgeous. My favourite way to wear it is with drainpipe black jeans, chelsea boots and a chunky necklace.

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Black Trousers Whether you prefer your trousers tux style, or skinny (like me), it’s important to have these. You don’t have to spend the earth, but they should fit you well. They’re pretty boring to buy, and yes those pineapple print jeans are SO much more exciting (I may or may not have bought them too*), but believe me – a pair of black trousers will see you through not only seasons, but a million different occasions too. They are pretty much the bread and butter of fashion.

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A Great Handbag Now, this one IS worth spending some money on. I would say that though, because a certain handbag is by far the most expensive thing I own. But it’s also timeless and still in perfect condition despite its nearly five years in my possession. I’ve decided (look away now mum) that upon getting my dream job here in London, I will celebrate by buying a very nice handbag. Despite being swaddled with all of the worlds best designers here, I’m still going to opt for a Deadly Ponies number – those guys make the best bags around. No question. Don’t fight me on this guys. I will take you on, and I will win. **evil glares**

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Ankle BootsI’ve already mentioned chelsea boots, and they are my go-to. The trick here is to start with the basics and go for a brown or black leather with a low(ish) heel. Once you have the basics covered, go nuts with any and every colour/material/embellishments that take your fancy.

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A Coat I’ve just purchased a textured navy coat that’s sort of a blazer come coat. It’s perfect. When I recover from the above bag purchase however, I will buy this…ok, I won’t, because unless I win the lottery I don’t have that much money… But I live in London now, so every coat dream that I’ve had to put on hold in toasty Auckland can now be played out (in my head). Plus everyone needs a camel coat. Like duh.

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Ballet Flats I’m all for heels. But, if you can’t walk in them – take them the hell off. Now. Because there is nothing more painful than watching some poor woman trying to walk in heels and failing. Every inch of elegance is snatched from her. So, ladies, embrace flats. My faves are actually these. Basic, cheap, classic and insanely versatile. Plus you feel like a dancer. WIN.

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Jeans This doesn’t need explaining. Even my Gran (aka my current flatmate) has a pair. If you don’t own any then you are just a crazy person. Sort it out.

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Knitwear If you have a wee bit of extra cash, cashmere is the best choice. Investing in a quality fabric here will mean that your jumper doesn’t loose its shape and can be worn for years and years (and maybe some more years). Try to have at least one lightweight, fitted option in your grasp before you start introducing cable knits or crops. I’ve just welcomed this baby into my wardrobe. It may not look exciting, but the wool and silk blend is so soft, and the style means it is perfect for layering.

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A Tee See this post dedicated to my love of all things tee and shirty.

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Statement Bling Some people will probably disagree that this is a “staple”, but I think popping your personality into any and every look is completely vital. I don’t mean wearing something crazy, just find a piece (or a few) that work for you. I love rings. All the rings, on all the fingers, at all the times. It’s my personal statement and yours could be different, but it’s a great way to add some of you to your outfit.

Armed with this list, I’m off out to spend up large (except not – damn being a poor unemployed traveler).

*I totally did. And I don’t regret it at all.

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Mondayitis

MondayCoffee

This morning I am not beating around the bush. There is no witty way to package it, and no amount of clothing lusting to cure it. The only thing to cure my mondayitis, is coffee.

You can throw gorgeous, designer dresses at me until I look like Joey from that episode in Friends when he wears all of Chandlers clothes at once (minus underwear), but it won’t do. Because all I want is a real caffeine hit.

It’s barmy outside and I want to walk around naked (I hear its inappropriate or something). But I don’t care. Halfway through this glorious trip, and the only words that are falling out of my mouth right now are complete gibberish and sound (or look) something like “blahblahblah CRAZY HOT LIKE A CRAZY THING blah”.

Between overnight trains, jet lag, and nights that are screamingly hot, sleep is at an all time low. I am craving the taste of my sweet local brew to pump me full of the energy needed to see me through this incredible Cambodian morning.

Next time you are in Auckland, hit up my three favourite coffee joints for your glorious taste of a “proper coffee” as my mother puts it. (A “proper coffee” being one made in a fancy machine, rather than that “instant stuff”.)

Rad This Mount Eden spot is the new kid on the block, and they use Wellington born Flight Coffee in there technicolour cafe. These beans have a deep, caramel-y hit to them and my pick off the menu would have to be the classic Latte. The endless creamy milk will lap up the richness of the shot. Also worth a note, are the scrum my smoothies.

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Twenty Three This little gem was right next door to me, so I had a wee soft spot for it. Not only are the brunch options stella, but the short black is a must try, and the amazing staff will know your order after only a few visits.

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The Espresso Coffee School A ‘gift economy’ cafe (basically, you pay what you think your item is worth, rather than having a set price – food included), which has a rotation of uni students all learning the ropes of the coffee machine. This a pokey place is always stuffed full of business men and suit clad ladies on their way to work, not only because it’s cheap (or you can make it cheap), but because, under the watchful eyes of the owner, those kids are making pretty damn good baristas. Go there and try the kiwi traditional Flat White for a “proper coffee” with a full bodied flavour. If you don’t like it? Don’t pay!

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Mondayitis

MondayCoats

Despite the heat here in NZ, and the rather intimidatingly hot weather that will greet me off the plane tomorrow (yes, I said tomorrow… and yes I’m freaking out about it). All I can think about (mostly because I prescribe to the theory of “if your scared of something, ignore it and it will go away”), is what I will face when I finally finish my round the world adventures, and land in Europe.

Having lived in Auckland for 13 years, one thing I’ve very rarely needed is a coat. This will no longer be the case as I gear up for British winters (hell, even British summers). And to be honest? I bloody love dressing for the chilly seasons. Don’t get me wrong, hot sunny weather is great, but in winter I physically get to wear more clothes – win.

Drowning in cashmere, swaddled in chunky knits and investing in buttery soft leather as I sip on my Monday morning coffee – the life inside my head right now is pretty damn perfect.

What would complete the winter wonderland I’m creating is an all-engulfing coat. The kind that’s pretty much a dress, is very much oversized and looks best with a chunky belt (think Coco Chanel styles). I recon coats like this, in either bold prints or scream-your-head-off loud colours, will be big for winter months to come.

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With a backpack filled to the brim with flip flops, tanks and shorts, I’m well and truly terrified of the heat wave I’m spending the next two months playing in. So, in line with my amazing avoidance theory, I’m dreaming of nestling up by the fire, and falling into a coat (that will probably be bigger than my London apartment).

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Sweat, Disney Princesses, oh and more sweat.

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I went for a run the other day and despite being outside for a mere 30 minutes (of complete hell) I got insanely dehydrated, sunstroke and some pretty unattractive tan lines where my vaccination plasters were*.

Thats right, the weather was so freaking sweltering that what should have been an enjoyable casual run turned into a round of Bikram sprint training (or at least it felt like it).

So, when the world has decided to channel its inner sauna, but you still want to keep up with those fitness goals, what should you wear?

My hot picks would have to be the following…

When you’re feeling brave, I would definitely opt for shorts. I know some people kid themselves that they “don’t look good in shorts”, but com’n people, if you are running, and you are hot, you’ve earn the damn right to wear shorts – no matter what they look like on you! (Plus, they look good anyway. You go girl. Believe me, not one single person is looking at you and thinking you shouldn’t be wearing them.) These Stella for Adidas pair are my go-to (in my head, because I don’t actually own them, but if I did, I would go-to them heaps).

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If that fails and you are too self conscious to actually wear less clothing, I always follow the rule that if you look good, you feel good. (But I would, because I work in fashion and if I don’t tell you that then a small part of Karl Largerfeld dies.) So, opting for stylish pieces will actually make you feel better about your run, like these monochromatic print (that are oh-so on trend). Try going for some leggings with mesh details to add air flow, and singlets that are looser to avoid that gross fabric-sticking-to-me-because-i’m-way-too-sweaty feeling.

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More importantly than any of that though, is water. Drink water. All the water.

Oh, and take off your plasters.

What I was in fact wearing was a pair of full length leggings (I don’t know what I was thinking) and a ratty old company T-shirt. However, if I had been wearing any of the above I probably would have run harder, faster and enjoyed it way more.

No, you’re right, I probably wouldn’t have. But at least I would have been a bit cooler (both meanings of the world apply here).

*The really embarrassing thing is, that isn’t even the first time I’ve had plaster-tan. Nope. The evil Disney Princess plaster (they were cheap ok) I was wearing a few months back left me with a huge white mark right on my knew all through the gorgeous summer beach weather – fail!

Mondayitis

RubyMonday

I don’t know if you all know this, maybe you’ve read some of my blog post or something. (Or maybe you have been just ignoring blatantly). But… guys, guys, guys… I am moving overseas in T-Minus four weeks.

Yup.

In 29 days I’m getting out of here (sorry mum).

One of the things involved in getting ready for this seriously giant adventure is selling (almost) everything I own. And I mean everything. My mismatched jar collection (that may or may not still have almond butter remittance in it), my scuffed green brogues that are pretty much children’s shoes (my feet are freaking tiny) and every handbag I own (sad face).

Don’t tell the boy or anything, but in the midst of all this selling, its hard for a gal like me not to decide what my next purchases will be. And the conclusion I came to?

Everything from the latest Ruby collection. And I mean freaking everything. There is nothing like your favourite designer making an amazing Pre-Fall collection to give you premature home sickness.

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And the worst bit? The actual Autumn and Winter collections (images coming asap) are insanely amazing too.

But worse that that? All my money is going to be spent of Typhoid jabs and anti-diarrhoea pills, so there literally isn’t any spare change for me to frivolously spend on soothes I really don’t need. (I can actually hear the collective sigh coming from the boy, the bestie and the mum.)

So, on this Monday, my dreams are filled with white lace tops, vertical striped sweaters and knitwear. But my reality is a fridge full of DukOral and a very sore arm.

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Early mornings, five minute prone holds and a bit of fangirling.

BootyCamp

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a while now, I have been getting up at some god awful hour and trying (key word: trying) to get my body moving in the form of booty camp. No, you didn’t misread that, and no it wasn’t a typo – there is in fact MEANT to be a ‘y’ on the end of the word booty.

A while a go I introduced you guys to Sam Bluemel and her insatiable attitude to all things health and fitness. As my post indicated, I found her love of simply moving her butt inspiring, so when the idea of one of her boot camps presented itself, I was in it like a shot, and even managed to convince two friends to come along and be my sweat buddies. (Way less gross than it sounds – maybe).

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The weeks of this morning madness are drawing slowly to a close (well, it finishes up in a few weeks) and I must admit, I’m pretty bloody sad. I’ve seriously loved it. I have never missed a morning, not even when it was pouring down and we ended up giving up on class all together because the rain was blinding us during hill sprints. Now that is pure dedication*.

I’m pretty sure every single morning that my alarm goes off I instantly start making bargains in my head. “It looks like its going to rain”, “I need to give my body a break” or “I slept terribly, I need another hour”. Luckily, I mostly manage to get past every one of those excuses and make it to our little patch of grass, because once I’m done and we’re stretching out in the (usually) sunny Auckland weather with a sneaky sneaky view of the sky tower behind me – I am always so glad that I’m not in bed.

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One of the things I love most about boot camp, Sam, and everything that goes a long with her Move Eat Play revolution, is the emphasis on strength. Physical and emotional. Whether she is encouraging you to try meditating to help handle stresses of everyday life, or screaming you on as you reach the 5th minute of your prone hold (yes, I stayed up for over five minutes), she is a serious motivator to help you take health steps in your life. She fills her blog with recipes, workouts and tips on staying focused on being the healthiest you can (and even throws in a healthy dose of reality sometimes… see her full fledged admit ion of holiday over indulgences here). I’m a pretty big fan girl.

I have always thought that exercising on your own is where it’s at (so don’t even think of ever asking me if I want to go for a run with you – because I don’t), but I think this incredible little group of girls has proved me completely wrong. I’m not quite sure what I am going to do come Monday the 17th of Feb – when there won’t be a group of beautiful, motivated and damn fit ladies waiting to egg me on for a fun 60 minute work out.

Don’t tell Sam, but I will most likely roll over and go back to sleep. My bad.

Tuesday though – I will definitely get up then.

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*The day I went to post this I did actually skip a class. I’m a bad human. BUT, in my defence, I had a wedding the night before and it’s just plain RUDE to not stay up really late dancing and drinking the night away with the happy couple. And that’s a fact.

Mondayitis

MONDAYKnits

So, I am not going to muck around – this morning it’s bloody cold.

Now bare in mind I live in Auckland, and it’s summer, so by “bloody cold” I probably mean “like an average day in a English summer”. But for my delicate, New Zealand acclimatised body, it’s freaking freezing. I am filling up on hot teas and have yet to actually remove my coat despite being in the office for over four hours.

With that in mind, and my mind wandering to the days of London living that is sneaking up fast, my head is filled with cable knit dreams.

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I don’t know if it’s the British buried deep inside me, or if I am just a very strange lady, but I love winter.

I love the feeling of coming in from a winters day, cold to my core, and swaddling myself in layer after layer of knitwear, clasping a hot mug of something (anything – because I will likely just clutch it between my hands until it cools rather than actually drink it) and watch bad American sitcom reruns on TV.

It sounds like bliss, and it’s where I want to be right this second.

Maybe a lunchtime trip to the shops in search of an appropriate cardi will cure my Monday morning blues!

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Mondayitis

MONDAYRUNDAY

So, it’s Monday (again, really?) and even though it is only the end of January (ok, ok, not even really half way through), my motivation is disappearing quicker than a bank balance at Boxing Day sales.

Yesterday I went for my first run in, like, forever. Since my half marathon efforts in November, you could count the number of times (and the number of kilometres) I’ve run on one hand. 

But, having put it off for a couple of weeks, I though it was high time I hit the pavement again and re-discovered my love for jogging. 

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At first it was bloody brilliant. I strutted along; my brain fog of packing lists, Asia trips and British bank accounts evaporated, and it left me with a somewhat clear head. I remembered how much running had, in the past, helped me to de stress, unwind and pump some awesome ego boosting endorphins around my stupidly short frame.

And then it hit me. 

The wall.

And, the worst bit is, it really didn’t take long. 5ks in and I needed a walk break. After another 2ks I had a stitch. By the time I hit the 10k mark I was ready to throw my trainers at passing cars and scream “my loins are burning hotter than a Mills & Boon protagonist, FOR F*** SAKE, SAVE ME”.

It’s a funny thing really. I kind of expected my body to just remain in the exact state I left it. Like when you put your cute new neon sandals by the door after work, and they are there waiting for you in the morning. Unfortunately my bodies “amazing runner” state has been left out a while. And with few layers of Christmas pudding and glasses of champagne on top of it and its freaking difficult to dig out. 

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This Monday, I don’t want stuff (ok, that’s a lie). What I really want is to dig out those damn 2 hour 20ks and my confidence. I want to be able to get myself back to that blissful feeling of real achievement, and take advantage of the views from my regular Mission Bay route in my final weeks in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

But that means I actually have to get off the couch and move doesn’t it?

Damn.

Maybe next week.

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I’m off on a plane. But for now, I’m on a boat.

Boat

So, we’ve been dilly dallying here for a while now.

Flirting around.

You know I like boyfriend jeans, foods that cavemen would happily chow down on, and running (oh, and complaining about running). And I’m pretty convinced you’re fond of trawling the internet for odd peoples musings on life. We’re a few dates down, but we haven’t met the parents yet. So lets get to know each other a little. Lets get personal.

I’m going to tell you more about myself.

Like a huge number of other people in 1988, I was born in London town, and grew up there. Those who know me well are still shocked to find this out, because being shipped from your home town when you’re merely eight tends to lead to a loss of both English attitudes and accents. And sure enough, my distinct kiwis twang masks any possible remittance of my British heritage (a faint memory that only comes out to play when I talk to my mum on the phone).

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But, despite having found my feet in New Zealand, they have got a bit itchy as of late, (and no, its not athletes foot), so the boy and I have decided to flee, making camp right back where it all began (and by “it”, I mean “me”). We are off, with a oneway ticket, to London (with hundreds of stops in small Asian countries on the way, so the boy can taste delicacies from the motherland of all of his favourite curry dishes).

It feels a lot like a break up.

I’m beginning to look through those rose tinted glasses and question the decision to walk away. We’ve come a long way, Auckland and I. I’ve spent the last few years building up my life here. Finding my dream job, furnishing my dream apartment and discovering the best brew for watching the sun go down (currently it’s peppermint tea).

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This country is pretty amazing. Sitting here on the bow of a boat in nothing but a bikini (and bunny jumper) with the man of my dreams bobbing in and out of the waters around me in search of mussels* makes me wonder why anyone would ever leave. This small, but perfectly formed Island, isolated yet filled with everyone I love, will be missed greatly. Like a parent, it has fostered me into its shores and nurtured me. No matter where this life takes me, this bush filled beach land will have always taught me so much.

One of these invaluable lessons, however, is, that fear is both the best and worst feeling you can have. It’s up to you how you choose to use it. It can propel you forward, or keep you cowering back. So, with the (inevitable) fear that taking this leap from what I know, could (fingers crossed) come the best reward.

Life gets a bit scary some times. And, just like the first time (ok, ok, all the times) I watched Silence of the Lambs, my life is sending chills up my spin right now. In exactly 64 days the boy and I will take some pretty small steps though the departure gates of Auckland airport, but they will be the biggest steps of my life to date.

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Its not that I don’t love this place, because I do, with every inch of who I am, but I feel (just like those oshkosh b’gosh pinstriped dungarees I loved so much when I was a kid) I’ve out grown it a bit.

So, this is not the end for Auckland and I, I see a brilliant life together in our future, but (to utter the words that play out in every teenage girls nightmare) I’ve decided to take a break from us.

I’m taking some time to find myself (or something less wanky).

I know its early days for you and me however (ok, now it sounds like I have cheated on Auckland with you, this metaphor has gotten a bit confuse, but i’m sticking with it), but I hope we can take this journey together.

*The boys secret for getting a good haul? Sing to them. No jokes. I don’t know if it works, but the muffled tones of Christmas carols just add to the magic of this moment.

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When baking gods, cookies and my credit card collide.

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Talking about cookies (because who doesn’t love to continue that conversation)…

If you haven’t tried Moustache Milk & Cookie bar, in Auckland, you’re missing out. Seriously missing out. In fact, you should probably stop sitting on your butts reading this post and hop to it asap.

Tucked away, up Wellesley Street, behind this big little cities ornate theatre (The Civic), sits a minuscule joint that boasts the best cookies I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a fair few).

No, they aren’t paleo, sugar free or even remotely healthy, but they are my number one stop when it’s time for a cheat meal (oh, I do love that time).

Along with the good old staples (black forest, choc chunk, cinnamon, nutella, snickers, oreo marshmallow, peanut butter and white choc macadamia) this quaint café experiments with a cookie of the week. Each Monday they bring out their latest mad invention of sweet and sticky awesomeness, and its up for grabs till end of day Sunday. The weekly special is always incredible (and fun), from reinventing your favourite burger into biscuit form, to tantalizing your taste buds with cake flavoured cookies (carrot cake has been the ultimate flavour so far, complete with cream cheese icing) to jumping on baking bandwagons…Cookie cake pop, cookie macaron for anyone? Hell yes.

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This quirky bar will also serve your choice of flavoured milk (or plain, if that’s your bag) in super cute jars along side your cookie choice for a nostalgic dunking experience. And, if you’re lucky, you might get a hot, melt in your mouth, cookie, straight off the baking tray. Not big on warm baking (freak)? How about you make an ice cream sandwich out of your fave flavours? Because they do that too!

Told you this place was the best.

These ingenious baking gods (yes, I said it, gods) have also just launched an online store for you to get that craving sorted and delivered right to your door!

There is even a giant cookie meets birthday cake option on the menu.

… now where did I put that credit card.

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