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.

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

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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Sugar free gingerbread, misshapen reindeer and overeating.

Gingerbread

Even though I’ve lived in New Zealand for well over a decade, this time of year is still so alien to me. It’s a time for sickly sweet mulled wine, for hideously great knitted jumpers with misshapen reindeer on the front, for nights by the fire and eating, eating and more eating.

Those things don’t sit well with bikini wearing, blistering heat and beaches (especially the bikini wearing).

Now, I do love the quirky contradiction that Christmas here brings.  I love the look of jandals and Santa hats (even though it’s a total fashion crime), I love BBQ’s on the deck (with the perfect charred steak) and I love the notion of a huge, sand filled holiday to celebrate the end of one year and welcome in another – it’s fantastic.

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But for me, it’s just not the magical time I remember from the Northern Hemisphere (even if a white Christmas day barely ever occurred).

Today, to welcome in the Christmas spirit (despite the sandals weather outside), I filled my house with the spirit of the holidays and made gingerbread cookies. Sugar free, paleo gingerbread cookies – of course.

Served up with peppermint tea, this combo of strong aroma of ginger playing with my senses transported me back to London evenings in December (watching James Bond repeats and not sleeping much at all).

And with my first bite of biscuit, in the midst of a balmy Auckland summers day, it started to rain.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to hear the sound of rain cut the heat of summer.

For a moment, it was a real slice of Christmas, on the wrong side of the world.

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 Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of almond meal
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground gloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 65g melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup of rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of ½ and orange

Mix all ingredients together (I used a food processor) and wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to harden for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 160C (fan forced)

Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 1cm thick and cut out (I used nifty Christmas tree cutters).

Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown on the edges.

Take out and enjoy with a cup of peppermint tea and the sound of rain.

Total Bliss.

Cheese puffs, (not) paleo cake and Hank.

HeartHealth

There’s a guy in my office (lets call him Hank*) that finds it hilarious to suggest everything is paleo.

Cupcakes come out for morning tea? Hank will chime in “they’re paleo you know”. When it’s somebodies birthday and cake is on offer, Hank grins and says “hey bel, cake is paleo”. And when its 6pm on a Thursday and pizza rocks up for the crowd working late, he’ll holla to me, “this pizza is definitely paleo”.

Hank not only thinks he is the most hilarious human being (he’s not), I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m completely bonkers.

And, it seems, there are plenty of people like Hank who can’t get their brains around the idea of eating how we used to (a long, long time ago).

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People get self-righteous about the way I’m choosing to live my life; they believe it’s unhealthy. My explanations of what I do and don’t eat are usually met with raised eyebrows and gasps of “but grains are healthy”.

Although this frustrates the hell out of me, I see where they’re coming from, because, we’ve been told that they are just that (healthy), for quite some time now.  In fact, the New Zealand Heart Foundation has only just (this week) updated their ‘heart healthy’ food guide, since the introduction of the food pyramid 1992.

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The above is the new suggested way of eating to keep your ticker in great shape. And heeeeey, look at that, good old grains have been knocked from their top dog spot, and fruit and vegetables have taken their (rightful) position as king of the food castle.

It is only a small step, it’s quite a victory for all us on the caveman train. A plant-based diet with a side of protein is what we have been banging on about for a while now. And although there are some significant improvements (can I hear a woop, woop?) from the pyramid we had shoved down our throats at school, much of it is still doesn’t sit quite right with me, or the wider nutritional community. (Namely – the positioning of whole grains and starchy carbohydrates in comparison to meat, protein and healthy fats.)

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But, instead of being a killjoy, I’m going to bask in the joy that a step, however small,  has been taken in the right direction (oh, and do a little boogie). Maybe it will inspire people to question why there has been a shift and encourage them to take their own journey in discovering what foods give them a more fulfilled and healthy lifestyle. Or maybe they will just plod along and do what they bigwig tells them and swap the potatoes on their dinner plate for carrots once and a while. Win, win.

But you know who doesn’t win? The funny guys who chow down on multiple cronuts and lashings of pizza whilst making jokes at me for having a strong stance on what I choose to put in my body. Or the people who laugh and think that I’m the crazy one for the way I eat whilst munching on cheese puffs the colour of no cheese I’ve ever seen.

What is the world coming to that I am the nuts one in this situation?

And yes Hank, nuts are paleo.

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*His name is not Hank. Because nobody would really be that mean right?

Mondayitis

MakesHeartsRace

I’m a huge advocate for New Zealand labels. I love this little country, and I seriously love discovering all the great things people are creating within it. One of those more recent discoveries has been a new(ish) label with some cool, quirky and original pieces in it. You are totally already in love too, right?

When I heard how the name of this boutique brand came about (‘Make Hearts Race’ – That feeling you get when you see a piece of clothing that you have to have, and will find any way to make it yours), I knew it was totally made for me.

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Make Hearts Race provides high-end (read; beautifully made) garments designed and created right here, in NZ. All of the pieces are super limited, which is cute, and gives the feeling that you are adding a truly unique item to your wardrobe with every shop.

So, the best way to put a stop to that Monday morning headache is to head to makesheartsrace.com and get completely lost in the latest fresh, exclusive and fun collection. To completely banish your morning mood, why not grab some of these amazing polka dot shorts (below) with a matching hat! It may not look like summer outside, but it doesn’t mean we can’t turn up the heating and dress up in these perfect pieces while we wait for the weather to catch up with our racing hearts.

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Hurry up and grab some fashion amazingness.

Glassons has literally just launched their latest collection, EDT. I could sit here and tell you how effortlessly chic and beautiful these incredible wardrobe staples are. I could gush about how proud I am of this New Zealand born company, that has more than picked up it’s game, its bloody weight-lifted it through to a completely new category of fashion amazingness. But I won’t, because as I type these words, more and more of this limited run are selling out online. So click here and be quick to make your shopping purchases (my picks would have to be the Embroidered Organza Skirt, String Strap Singlet and Galaxy Shorts, but absolutely everything deserves a space in your closet).

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“Featuring 100% Silk, Cotton Embroidered Organza and Satin-backed Crepe, our new boutique brand edt. offers streamlined wardrobe staples with carefully considered detail and fabrication, bringing you a premium quality range without premium prices. Available on Glassons.com and in selected stores only.”

All images from Glassons.com

The month that was.

October

I am a little behind this month, but September was filled with New Zealand Fashion Week, loads of cauliflower pizza and a trip to the races. Follow me on Instagram here for (almost) daily pictorial updates on everything I am eating/wearing/doing. Oh yeah, and cats.

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