Miss Selfridge hits New Zealand

29 Jul 2013

It is exciting down here in little New Zealand as it seems the recession has passed and new shops and labels are popping up all over the place! 

Earlier this year, American cosmetics brand Benefit set up shop in Auckland and now UK high street brand Miss Selfridge has arrived bringing young, feminine fashion with affordable price tags. Of course I had to run in there to check out what they're offering!

Miss Selfridge, Miss Shelfridge hits New Zealand, Smith and Caughey label, Auckland shopping, shopping in New Zealand

The prices seem to be cheaper than what Topshop were offering yet I was still impressed with the quality and detail put into their garments. My favourites were their formal and cocktail dresses, perfect for parties or balls with most of them being priced under $150nzd. 

It was great to see the leather sleeve trend going strong, the evidence was in the numerous garments with these sleeves in store. No wonder my leather sleeve coat was getting so much attention from strangers! 

You really need to pop in store at Smith and Caughey, Queen Street or Ballantynes, Christchurch to check out Miss Selfridge as I think their online store doesn't do their pieces justice. If you can't get to the store, check out my picks from their current offerings and look it up on Miss Selfridge's online store.

Look board, Miss Selfridge, Miss Selfridge in Auckland, Miss Selfridge in New Zealand

Hope you've had a great weekend, I am waiting for summer to come and am watching our days lengthen by one minute everyday! Am quite jealous of all of you northern hemisphere people! 

Lazy Cannelloni

24 Jul 2013

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If you haven't noticed yet, I like to make and do complicated things. I don't enjoy easy shortcuts and don't really think they turn out that great. But I often run out of time when guests come over for dinner cos I underestimate how long a dish can take. I would be the first to fail a time-pressure cook off!

I first made this lazy cannelloni one night for a quick dinner and thought it was pretty good, as good as a full-on, proper cannelloni recipe. So when I had some friends come over a few nights ago, I decided to make it again and I was pleasantly surprised I had half an hour to spare before they arrived. The thing I love most about this recipe is that it looks and tastes impressive, no one would have known it only took me about 20 minutes to prepare!

Lazy Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni with Mince Sauce

300g Ricotta 
200g frozen Spinach (you can get fresh if you like but it will make it un-lazy)
2 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Edam cheese
1/8 t ground nutmeg
Cannelloni shells
500g chunky pasta sauce or canned chopped tomatoes
1-2 t sugar
Handful of chopped parsley
100g mince 
1 cup mozzarella cheese

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1. Defrost the spinach then chop into small pieces. 
2. Add the ricotta, parmesan, edam, eggs, nutmeg to the spinach. Fold until all mixed and combined.

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3. Meanwhile brown the mince with some garlic, then add the pasta sauce. Add about half a cup of water to the sauce. Store bought pasta sauces are troublesome, my secret is to taste and alter it by adding my own seasoning. I find I always need to add a little more salt and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar is my friend!

My large microstoven baking dish is one of the best investments ever. I can cook things on the stove top then throw it in the oven without using and transferring containers. You can check these out at Maxwell and Williams.

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4. Stuff the cannelloni with the ricotta mixture (I have found the best tool to do this is using chopsticks!! Not recommended if you can't use chopsticks tho)

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5. Lay the cannelloni in the sauce, there should be enough sauce to almost cover the tops of the cannelloni. Cover the top with mozzarella cheese.

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6. Cover the top and bake at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes or until pasta is cooked.

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DIY Puffy Heart Bunting

20 Jul 2013

Decorating, homewares and DIY are some of my recent obsessions. I've always wanted to make some bunting to brighten up the house with and so I got off the couch and whipped these puffy heart buntings up in a day (or so). Since these are perfect for weddings, little humans' rooms, big humans' rooms and parties I thought it would great to share with you! 

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The whole project cost me only a few dollars and I found most of my materials from cheap fabric stores. I did notice a big difference in the cost of felt, so just look around a few stores to find the colours you want. I chose grey and pink this time to pay homage to the blog but I'm thinking an ombre effect would be pretty cool too!

bunting instructions, how to make bunting, wedding bunting

 You will need: 
  • A few pieces of felt in different colours
  • Scissors
  • Thick needles
  • Wool or thick cotton
  • Cushion stuffing
  • Heart cut-out (download my heart)

bunting craft, bunting flags, how to make bunting
1. Using the heart cut-out as a guide, cut out pieces from the felt. 8 hearts were used here (16 heart cut-outs) but do as many as you like.
2. Take two pieces of felt and start stitching the edges together, leaving the cotton knot hidden between the two pieces (.
3. Loop the cotton around the needle as shown. This is called a blanket stitch. If you need further instructions then click here.
4. Continue looping and stitching til you are three quarters around, leaving some excess thread and a gap for the stuffing.
5. Hand sew the rest of the pieces together using steps 1-4.
6. Stuff the hearts with cushion stuffing then close the gap.

blanket stitch, bunting, how to make bunting
7. String the hearts together. Using a safety pin with a piece of string/cotton/ribbon attached to it, push it through the gaps in the stitching of the hearts (through the stuffing) and out the other end. Repeat until all hearts are attached.

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Hope you love my heart bunting as much as I do. The winter bug hit and crippled me for a good number of days. I cannot wait for summer and the next week as I will get some time off to recover and have some fun!

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Leather Sleeve Coat

12 Jul 2013

Leather sleeve jacket, leather sleeve coat, leather, coat, karen walker, portmans, witchery, glassons

Leather sleeves have been popular for a few seasons now but their popularity doesn't seem to be dying anytime soon with more and more styles popping up in the stores wherever I look. Leather sleeves give feminine coats a little edge and adds interest to a plain outfit.

I've been getting lots of compliments on this Portman's winter 2012 Arizona Contrast Sleeve Coat I've been wearing lately. It's so versatile (it's black!) I can just throw it on with whatever outfit I have on.

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The dress is a few years old from Karen Walker but the necklace is from the current season (if you hurry, there maybe some still available on sale now!) The clutch is reversible and was made by me. You might get to see the other side one day :P I love stockings and this cute pair is from Glassons. The suede leather booties are from Witchery.

Portman coat, karen walker, necklace, hair ombre

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diy bag, portman leather sleeve, karen walker navy dress
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I'm thinking about buying a two-toned jacket next, just waiting for someone to get me this 3.1 Phillip Lim leather sleeve jacket!


Celebrate the Gift of Wrapping

7 Jul 2013

I feel like an obsessed little girl in a new relationship celebrating a one month anniversary but happy times and little milestones are worth celebrating! It's been about a month since the blog launched and things are going really well! I love to see visitors from all around the world so please take a mo to check out my blinging social media links on the right and get notified when new posts pop up.

gift wrap, confessions of a chopinholic

Presents are always cool to give and receive when celebrating and I thought it would be cool to show you some nice, easy and affordable ways to dress up a present. Presenting your gift in a beautiful shell shows that you care and made extra effort, even if the gift is not extravagant!

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I love wrapping presents but sometimes I run out of time. I'm crazy about little inexpensive gift bags out there because you can throw the present inside and then quickly slap on a bow to make it look sooo pretty!

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Here are some other ideas I couldn't resist sharing.

Have a great week and see you soon!

3 Things I'm Loving Right Now

5 Jul 2013

After a day of sunshine I'm feeling a little refreshed. The weather is terrible at the moment in New Zealand and making a list of things I'm loving right now has picked me up a little! You should try it!

I'm loving the styles at Twenty-Seven Names this season and I'm eyeing up the All The Fishes In The Sea dress.

Twenty seven names, all the fishes in the sea dress, shop, new zealand, review

I'm obsessed with little glass jars at the moment and Curio Noir's Black Spice candle is a perfect souvenir after the candles been used. Each piece is hand blown in New Zealand and the wax is mixed in France. 

curio noir, black spice, candle, new zealand, shop, review
I've been saving my hair from damage for a while and after a keratin treatment, I'm ready to think about colouring my hair again! The balayage technique is so cool and is so forgiving on regrowth. The question now is how crazy should I go?

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Source: Pinterest
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Source: Pinterest

Hope you guys get to have some fun this weekend. I will be going on a little drive and doing some extra work. Wish me luck!

Music of a Sad Soul

3 Jul 2013

Sergei Rachmaninoff has a special place in my heart. This may sound cliché to my fellow pianist friends but I cannot deny the emotional impact his music has on me when I listen and play his music.

Rachmaninoff, piano, Rachmaninov
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Rachmaninoff was a pianist, composer and giant! It was rumoured he stood 6 feet 6 inches or 1.98 metres tall, and had abnormally large hands which gave him an advantage at the piano (I just want to note that it is large hands with fingers in proportion which is good for piano playing, not just long gangly fingers by themselves!) Rachmaninoff's music is sometimes demanding for smaller hands as it often calls for large chords to be played. Watch the comedic duo Igudesman and Joo's video called "Rachmaninoff had big hands" and you may understand what I mean.

Even though Rachmaninoff was successful during his studies at university, he did not enjoy an easy career as critics and music writers of the time considered his music out of date. It would have been perfect if he was born about 80 years earlier! He said himself: "I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien. I cannot cast out the old way of writing and I cannot acquire the new".

It was after a disastrous premiere of his Symphony no.1 that Rachmaninoff had his nervous breakdown and first fell into depression. It left him unable to compose for 3 years and depression haunted him for most of his life. It was said by those who knew him later in life that he was the saddest person they knew. I believe it's his unique situation that allowed him to compose such gut wrenching and powerful music.

The first piece I played by Rachmaninoff was Elegie op 3 no 1. I remember the experience as it almost brought me to tears. The pain and sadness was so vivid I had never heard or played anything like it. It may be quite a different experience just listening to it, but I found a recording of Rachmaninoff playing the Elegie on piano roll from 1929!

For those who have seen my Chopin 101 post you would have read that Chopin's music pops up in mainstream media everywhere. More interestingly, Rachmaninoff's music inspired a modern ballad. You must know Celine Dion right? Well, the song All By Myself written by Eric Carmen was inspired by the second movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no 2, a piece I was privileged to play with orchestra. Oops... I don't have a recording of me playing it but here's a video of the entire work. (The bit from the song features from 10:50) This concerto is one of Rachmaninoff's most well-known works. 

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Now I want you break out of all the intenseness and sadness and help me out! I have been urged by some people to do more posts on music, but I'm realising quickly this is quite a hard topic for me. You know what they say - the more you know, the more complicated it gets. Have you been inspired to click on and listen to the links? Are you finding them interesting and easy to understand? If you have further questions about the music posts, I'm happy to answer them. Comment below or on the Facebook page!