volume eleven

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blouse c/o JOULES silk eye mask STEPHIE ANN DESIGN

I’ll be honest and I sorta fell off the bandwagon and got sucked into Netflix and avoided picking up a book for a good while. I guess when it’s cold, all you want to do is cozy up with a big blankie and comfortable pajamas. I found transitioning into winter so hard, that turning pages seemed like so much work because exposing any part of my skin to my weakly heated flat seemed a bit too much of an investment in a book. No lie.

Anyways, over the last several months I did read a few books, but fallen into the podcast world too {more on that in another post} and I think curating a little collection of books that I’ve read for future literary lust posts seems more logical rather than sharing the thoughts on one book… but I digress…

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The Power


One of my favorite reads of high school was Orwell’s 1984 and my favorite of university was The Handmaid’s Tail by Margaret Atwood. I came across the power in a chat I was having with one of my St. Andrews friends who was a very big fan of Atwood. Alderman’s The Power is a bit of the mix of the former two books I mentioned, a dystopian world where woman develop an electrifying power that disrupts the symbiosis of modern society. The plot follows the story of multiple characters around the world in varied situations.

Without giving away too much, I had a love/hate relationship with this book-this was not a soft, elusive, passive aggressive look at gender equality, but a proper view of society forcing the reader to question the status quo and the world that we live in. From examples of the Muslim World, to promoting protests and movements-it was raw and it was exhilarating. Power is a tangible subject here and they way it is utilized and controlled is the very notion that is materialized here.

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I picked this one up right before I went to India, but didn’t get to properly read it until after my trip. It’s actually a Pakistani novel that is so beautifully written that I think I’m going to hold onto it with my Lolita novel as the language could truly enhance the language here on c&é (even though it was translated).

Looking back on the divide between India and Pakistan, Zakir is separated from the love of his life and continues to undergo trauma and the hostility that comes with the birth of a new nation. The plot encompasses the present, memory, dream and mythology-beautifully tying in all aspects of the Partition between India-Pakistan. What makes it interesting, however, is that the novel was written in 1979 during the Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan.

”When the world was still all new, when the sky was fresh and the earth was not yet soiled,
when trees breathed through the centuries and ages spoke in the voices of birds, how astonished
he was, looking all around, that everything was so new, and yet looked so old.”

I’ve read many books and watched films on the Partition and the only difference I really sensed from Basti versus the rest was the prose. A little treat to the genre of historical fiction.

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Spark Joy


Just to preface this book and the one after, Messy, I only really was interested in reading Marie Kondo’s work to see what all the fuss was about. Messy was a nice competitor to Kondo’s teachings. I’m a minimalist and I am very content with what I have. It’s definitely not hard for me to let go of something, but I’ve never been someone who is attached to material possessions merely because I’ve moved around a lot, lost things on the way, thrown away bags of clothes-it’s really just fine. I guess I’m the anti-blogger, huh?

I loved Kondo’s teachings though. I understand the importance of a tidy space and a world where you don’t need to have to materialize to be happy, but the purpose of her teachings behind this book was to question if something actually “sparks joy”-if it doesn’t, get rid of it. There were cases where I thought, “a took kit doesn’t make me happy, but I do need it.” She addresses that and a lot more. It’s funny because after reading just the first 30 pages or so, I noticed that I was questioning what I had in my room. And though I already have things that make me quite content, it reminded me that everything I have is beautiful and purposeful in its own way-and there is something so beautiful about that.

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Though I’m not a messy person, extremely organized in fact, I found this book a joy to read! Harford takes real life samples of messy sitautions and/or environments that real life people have been in and how it has helped them in return. Using examples from a roster so impressive including Brian Eno, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs and more.

I think the underlying message was that even in time of chaos, something wonderful can materialize as your mind is stimulated and functioning in way that can only be advantageous to you. Honestly, a great book for a present and even more exciting read.

concrete jungle

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dress c/o ANTHROPOLOGIE sunnies c/o BODEN purse GIFTED shoes c/o DOROTHY PERKINS

* * *

To feed off of my previous post on about winning and losing at the flatmate lottery in London, cities are extremely dynamic and the people you meet are what engines that. Each person’s priorities, hobbies and interests are drastically different. When I first moved to London, making friends all over again was something I never had to do before. City-hopping in the US was easy as networks had contact to connect me with and there was always a mutual friend or someone I knew. London was the wild and I was just one specimen trying to find the means of fitting and doing my thing.

Making friends was a lot of trial-and-error. I would meet someone and be introduced to someone via them and then realized that the initial “social relationship” was just not what I was looking for. For example, I met my friend Sofiya through an event I was invited to organized by another friend. I realized the other friend who organized it was just not cutting it in terms of what I was looking for and went off on a bestie-affair with Sofiya. See? Lots of trial-and-error.

As time went on, and considering my interest lies in everything that the universe has to offer, I sought close relationships with groups of people. And just like my work calendar, my social calendar has proliferated to the point where weekends become slightly hectic. My approach to the social jungle in cities is quite easy:

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different groups of friends

There are times I want to just relax in a cafe and enjoy a piece of cake with a pretty setting, so I tend to do that with blogger friends. Other times I want to have an overindulgent dinner, so I tend to hit up foodie friends. Based on my igniting senses, I tend to embrace certain groups of friends. That has helped undermine inevitable drama and getting tired of people.

draining people

Cut them out or take a major step back. I had a friend come to me about their same issue constantly over the span of 6 months. No matter how much I tried to help, that friend was just not listening. It was becoming exhausting and ended up having negative affects on my personal life. I decided to remove that person, keeping conversation at a minimum/wrapping it up quickly, and things have never been better. Eventually, I will let that person in and it will be more of a catch-up and back to the friendship we once had.

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stick to your schedule

I used to be the type of person that would cut someone out after being late once. Until I moved to London, I realized I couldn’t really afford to do that since I knew literally 3 people. Since then, I adapted the strategy that if someone is late to something important to me (read: work event), I don’t invite them again. If someone is late to just a personal catch-up, I stick to the allotted time I have with that person. Recently, I had brunch with a friend who was 30 minutes late. We were to meet roughly from 12pm-2pm. I kept the brunch until 2pm, but that just meant we had 30 minutes less. This made her realize pretty quickly that I value my time as well.

choose wisely

This may sound extremely selfish, but I tend to stick with people who are uplifting, encouraging, and/or people you can learn from. You must be open-minded yourself and once you are, you will find the beauty and intelligence in each person. I have a group of friends who are younger than me, but their careers are very different from mine and it makes for interesting weeknight dinner conversations.

don’t change

I will admit that I changed my personality just for a little bit over the summer to align with someone I was hoping to get closer to. That failed miserably and in reality I noticed that I didn’t actually enjoy being around myself or that person. I crave fun, intelligent, energetic conversations and that should be what I look for in each friendship.

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transitional wardrobe staples

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4 seasons; 1 day

shop my entire wardrobe via THE BOUTIQUE

* * *

It’s true when they say that you can see all four seasons in one day on any typical day in London. It will start off as slightly warm and sunny in the morning, just a bit grey near the afternoon, rain in the late afternoon and then it’s freezing in the evening. I’ve fallen victim to the weather and have gone back home to change into something more seasonably appropriate before. And please don’t even bother looking at the weather app. I think it’s safe to say that my constant bickering conversation point about weather has earned me the British seal of approval.

But I digress… With that said, seasonal sartorial awareness has been a skill I had to hone and perfect. With winter quickly turning into spring, I thought I would share some of my favorite transitional staples that are timeless and can take you from one season to the next, or if you’re in the London, one hour to the next.

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the bretton tee & navy blazer

trousers c/o JOULES tee c/o JOULES blazer c/o JOULES loafers c/o BODEN watch c/o LARSSON & JENNINGS purse COACH

My flatmate laughs at me whenever I do my laundry. My drying rack is usually consumed with striped tees of all assortments and it’s the one thing I grab if I can’t come up with an outfit. It’s the perfect layering piece especially with a navy blazer screams Parisian-chic. And if it’s a tad too cold, try a cocoon jacket to go on top. My 2 favorite places to get a quality striped tee are Boden and Joules and I like to grab inspiration on different ways to style a striped tee and place them right here.

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silk shirt & cropped trousers

silk blouse c/o BODEN jeans LEVIS purse COACH

Let’s go back to when I graduated university. After walking across the stage, being handed my diploma and making my way across, I realized that the real-life qualms were upon me. I felt like I was truly an adult, albeit having very college plans for the few weeks ahead. Shopping for my first job was a bit of a nightmare as I was new to the world of obtaining quality pieces instead of Target-throwaways. Silk shirts became the perfect pieces for wearing with just about anything and transitioning from weekday to weekend wardrobe. Those few silk shirts have done me well in these years and I continue to wear them today even though tailored suits are not the daily sartorial norm. Pair with ankle grazing trousers for just a bit of a teaser to warm weather.

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tunic to a dress

tunic c/o JOULES jacket c/o JOULES boots c/o JOULES nail polish COURTNEY c/o ZOYA NAIL POLISH

I’ve complained about dresses shrinking and turning into tunics, pair them with trousers or leggings and you’ve got yourself a winter outfit. Going from winter gear to warmer weather things can be a bit tricky. I personally like to hunt for longer tunics about mid thigh or more and pair it with tights in the winter and then tights or boots as the weather gets warmer.
PS – here are some tips on how to simplify your wardrobe.

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dark chocolate peppermint slices

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there’s no place like home

Living in London hasn’t been the easiest and most of the time, without the pink filter, it’s not as glamorous either. Things are bureaucratic, difficult and always frustrating. As most of you know, unlike most of the expat bloggers that I tend to run into, I didn’t move here with a boyfriend or a husband. I came here for my MA and then came back a year after graduating from St. Andrews to pursue my career and grow in a field that is rare and was still evolving when I first stepped into it.

Living in London is expensive and living in London is tricky. Moving out here I was a bit lost as to where to live and not to live. The places I knew were a little out of my budget (read: by £1,000 out of my budget) and the places that were actually a good fit, I ended up overlooking. I came to this country without knowing a single person, aside from a rugby lad I knew from St. Andrews who seemed to mimic much of the frat boy variety… but I digress. With trial-and-error, I found a flat that seemed to fit the bill and the brand!

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This city is dynamic and so is its population. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone for coffee (in hopes for a friendship) and that just didn’t work out because they were a bit too passionate, too overwhelming, too draining, too boring… Flatmates turn out to be the same. You meet them for 20 minutes and have to determine if they will be normal, stress-free and empathetic for the following 6 months. There are nightmares, and boy do I have stories.

What I found was that I gravitated towards expats. I wanted a space that is warm and secure since this is my “home” and my real-home is about a 9-hour flight away. My flatmates and I have our own lives and groups of friends, but if there is one thing that can bring us together it’s the kitchen. I talked about cooking with one of flatmates before and I’m happy to continue on the tradition with new flatmates that enter this flat so lovingly and see this as a home too.

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{peppermint slices} via chevrons & éclairs

Heather made these peppermint slices over the holiday season for her office and lucky for me, I was able to have a small bit too. That time of the year was busy for both of us as I was in India and she went back home to New Zealand. After we reunited, one Sunday afternoon treat is what brought us together. We caught up on what we missed, picked up the pieces that were left behind on a few conversations, boys were involved in these long talks. And then we enjoyed them over an episode of Black Mirror. It’s like baking and cooking makes a place feel like home…

* * *

You can find the peppermint slices recipe with Cadbury here.

spotting colorful houses

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frolicking through the streets

When I first moved to London, I always tried to get photographs taken in Notting Hill or anywhere I could find pretty pastel colored houses lined up so it’s easy to take a shot. I even decided to live in West London to accommodate my blog goals of capturing such houses. Eventually I got out of this black hole that is colored houses and started branching out. Slowly I realize Georgian brick houses are actually not that ugly and host a deep history and Victorian houses are quite romantic.

Fast forward a year and a few months and now I live in very central London where architectural uniformity is not a thing. I was reunited with Notting Hill and its pretty houses for a Boden color walk and then kept visiting shortly after Kristabel gave me a few good reasons as to why I need to frequent Notting Hill.

So here’s a guide to some of the colorful streets of London that you don’t want to miss if you are just visiting or live here, but stuck in the opposite rut that are Georgian brick houses and Victorian romanticism.

what I’m wearing

blouse c/o JOULES cardigan c/o JOULES jeans c/o JOULES heels c/o BODEN purse COACH lipstick AMAZING GRACE via CHARLOTTE TILBURY jewelry c/o J.LAUREN

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North London

North London has a unique, artistic vibe to it. Full of quirky shops, independent coffee shops, incredible exotic cuisine. You will find a lot of young professionals living and around there as it inhabits so much for the younger crowd. I don’t frequent as much to north London, but that is sure going to change as some of the leading chefs are popping open their Michelin-graded restaurants there.

Kelly Street, NW1
Chalcot Crescent, NW1
Falkland Road, NW5
Bonny Street, NW1

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West London

Truly iconic for it’s pastel-hued houses lined and forming squares in random parts of West London. There is definitely a ‘west is best’ vibes when people first think of London. Since living here, I found the crowd to be just slightly older though polished. Lots of great restaurants that have built a heritage here. With an abundance of shops, boutiques, high-end streets galore. Many locales are very the place to be seen, but Notting Hill doesn’t and never will, lose it’s charm.

Denbigh Terrance, W11
Conduit Mews, W2
Portobello Road, W11
Lancaster Road, W11
Westbourne Park Road, W11
Chiswick Road, W4
Wingate Road, W6

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South London

Where yours truly resides, South(west) London is the home of posh-shopping and chic boroughs of Knightsbridge and Chelsea where we have Harrods. Establishments cater to all budgets and tastes and residences are notably all white Victorian houses or a little sprinkle of colored ones in the borough of Kensington.

Trevor Square, SW7
Bywater Street, SW3
Oakley Street, SW3

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