Feb 23, 2017

London Diaries: Day Three

Three days in and the only way to start the day is with a blowout. Sacrificing valuable suitcase space to pack a hair dryer is out of the question, so I head to Hershesons Blow Dry Bar for a blowout before starting the day. Located in the basement of Topshop at Oxford Circus, Hershesons is your best bet for a super efficient, quality blowout that will last at least two days, possibly three with liberal use of dry shampoo. I usually visit at least twice during my trips to London and I always walk out looking and feeling like a million bucks. And let's face it, the convenience of not having to do your hair while on vacation is priceless.

After my hair appointment, I hit the shops on Oxfords street including Miss Selfridge, Mango, Pull & Bear, Zara, River Island, and Next. The best part about shopping in the UK is the sizing. You can seriously find everything from petite to plus size, maternity clothes that don't suck, tall sizes in longer lengths, and a full array of cool kids clothes.

The three main fashion trends for women found in all the shops on the high street are the leather jacket, the concert tee, and florals with dark grounds, which are normally reserved for fall/winter. We're also still seeing the cut-out trend take on multiple forms this season including sweaters, t-shirts, and dresses. The sheer overlay trend is also going strong and morphs into flowy tops, skirts, and even footwear (as shown above).

If you have kids or want to shop for them while you're in London, don't miss Hamleys. Founder William Hamley opened his first store in 1760 and added a second shop on Regent street in 1881. The store was bombed five times during World War II and is still going strong featuring five floors of toys and games for children.

After hitting the high street it's a must that you visit Liberty of London. The store was originally opened in 1875 by Arthur Lasenby Liberty and is well-known for its floral prints. The store is an experience in itself and has a full Manolo Blahnik wall of shoes, a fabulous selection of printed silk scarves, a Le Labo perfume counter, a Nike lab, a gorgeous assortment of Needle and Thread dresses, plus a fabulous flower shop that looks beautiful and smells delightful.

Later that night Jeff and I snuck away for a date night in the city and headed to St. Christopher's Place, which is a little area off Oxford street with shops and restaurants. We ended up at a restaurant called Cocochan for sushi and dim sum. The ambiance was great, the food was delicious, and the service was excellent. We will definitely be back.

We've packed in a lot to our first few days in London and one thing is certain, my feet and legs are killing me. If you're heading to London you should know that you're going to walk miles every day. yes, that was miles with an "s" at the end. Despite getting around in a black cab of taking the tube, there will inevitably be walking involved so get ready for sore legs at the end of the day. I cope by stretching and soaking my legs in a salt bath when possible, it should be noted that I have not surrendered to wearing flats. Yet.

If you've forgotten something at home, don't worry. You can get anything your little heart desires in London.

If you forgot to pack your beauty products:

  • Look for a Superdrug or Boots store. These chain stores are similar to Bartell's or Walgreens and have everything from beauty products to pharmacy items. Some stores even carry snacks like fruit packs and groceries. You can also find adapters here if you forgot a converter at home and need to charge your electronics. 
If you need baby items:
  • Look for a Mothercare store on Oxford street. They carry everything from clothing to baby items like bath tubs, strollers, and high chairs. You can also get diapers, wipes, and bottles here. 
If you need to stock your mini fridge at the hotel:
  • Waitrose - For grocery items like milk, juice, fresh fruits and vegetables, and breakfast items for the hotel. They also have a great assortment of manages if you need to stock up. 
  • Tesco - Here in the UK Tesco isn't a gas station, it's a convenience store. You'll find chips, snacks, desserts including donuts from Krispy Kreme, and wine. 

// The It List // 

- Shop - 

Liberty of London
St. Christopher's Place
Oxford Street shopping

- Beauty - 

Hershesons Blow Dry Bar 
(Check out these tips on how to make your blowout last longer)

- Food - 

- Baby - 


Feb 21, 2017

London Diaries: Day Two

Jet lag is the worst. We woke up throughout the night despite our best efforts to stay asleep and finally woke up around 10 a.m. Fortunately, it was sunny today which made it easier to get up and get going. Our first stop today was Kensington Palace. Originally my plan was to see the Princess Diana fashion exhibit, but we realized on arrival that it doesn't actually open until later this week. So instead we checked out Victoria Revealed. The exhibit is inspired by the Queen's own journals and gives an intimate account of her life. She was just eighteen when she became Queen of England. If you haven't been watching the series on PBS you should start right now. If you were a Downton Abbey fan, it definitely helps fill the void.

After the museum we walked over to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. It's a beautiful place for kids to escape the city and play. The gated park has multiple play areas including a sandpit with a giant ship for kids to climb. There's also a cafe with drinks and snacks for kiddos who work up an appetite. This is a fun park to explore. (Note: The nearest tube stop is Queensway station)

After the park we took the tube over to Bond street for lunch at the Selfridges Food Hall. I didn't realize department store dining was a "thing" until I started coming to London. You can seriously spend the entire day shopping and eating your way through London via department stores. In addition to a rotating-themed rooftop restaurant, Selfridges has a casual food court downstairs featuring Yo! Sushi, EAT, Lola Cupcakes, grocery items, and more. Upstairs on level four you'll find a multi-vendor Selfridges Kitchen with salads, deli items, and other fast-food options, including a full Starbucks. There's also an Oyster and Champagne Bar, a sandwich shop, and multiple full-service dining options within the store. There's truly something for everyone which makes it an easy and convenient stop for families.

After lunch we shop the store and check out Material World which asks the question, "What on Earth Are you Wearing?" The campaign features 8 sustainable designers that each represent a different material including leather, denim, wool, cotton, and linen.  Featured brands include California-based Tortoise Denim, British Knitwear label Tengri, Swedish label Deadwood, and wool by Le Kilt. The Oxford street windows also feature displays from the campaign and are worth checking out.

Next stop: Harrods. If I were traveling alone I would allocate a full day just to explore Harrods, a luxury department store in Knightsbridge. The store occupies a 5-acre site and has over 300+ departments and over 300,000 people visit the store each day. It's kind of a maze inside so I would recommend downloading the store app or picking up a map when you arrive. This time we took the kids to see Toy Kingdom and explore new arrivals. When I have time to shop solo I'll definitely be back to peruse womenswear and of course, the shoe hall.

Last stop of the day, Byron Burger, which just happens to be close to our hotel. They have a cult following in the UK because it's one of the only burger joints that serves a decent American-style hamburger. I recommend the Bun-free skinny cheeseburger, but if you're adventurous, you might like the "Cluckosaurus Rex", which is a fried chicken breast, onion ring, bacon, cheese, pickles, BBQ sauce and jalapeƱos. It's not for the faint of heart.

Until tomorrow!

// The It List // 

- Shop - 
Selfridges to check out Material World

- Eat - 

 - Play- 

- Visit- 
Princess Diana exhibit at Kensington Palace
Victoria Revealed at Kensington Palace (re-opens in June 2017)


Feb 20, 2017

London Diaries: Day One

Back in 2009 my husband and I visited London on our honeymoon and instantly fell in love with the city. The sights, the sounds, the shopping. There's so much to soak in and experience. When we decided to have kids, we agreed that we wouldn't give up our love of travel, so now we bring them with us. They love the journey overseas and together we savor every trip.

We arrived in London on Sunday via the red-eye from Seattle. It was a 9-hour direct flight that arrived at London Heathrow around noon. I've never been a good sleeper on a plane so by the time we arrive I'm exhausted yet excited to be back and determined to stay awake until the evening so that my body can adjust to the time change.

Once we take the 45-minute cab ride into the city and check in to our hotel in South Kensington we unpack and get settled in our room. We've stayed all over London on our trips, but always near Hyde Park so that the kids have somewhere to play. This time around we are at the Vanderbilt hotel but we've also stayed at (and loved) The Kensington Hotel, The Cumberland, and the Crowne Plaza. They are all within walking distance of the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum, and Harrods.

The most important thing to do upon arrival is to get to know your neighborhood. We always make it a point to figure out the nearest tube stop for the London Underground. It's the cheapest/fastest way to get around the city. This time we are closest to Gloucester Rd. so we head over to buy Oyster cards. You can buy these via the automated machines at the tube station and load whatever dollar amount you want. Then you just swipe in and swipe out to pay your fare. It's super easy.

Our first adventure was taking the tube to Leicester Square on the West End of London to check out the Lego store. It's the largest Lego store in the world and features two floors of Legos. We had to wait in a 10-minute line (aka a "queue") before getting inside. It was worth it. The store has several photo opps including a red Lego brick phonebooth and a wall featuring the city of London, in brick form. They also offer a "Lego Mosaic" experience that involves a quick pic in the photobooth and getting a mosaic Lego portrait back, made entirely out of bricks. It's pretty cool actually and costs 99 pounds.

After the Lego store, we rode the Tube back to South Kensington and headed to Waitrose, the local grocery store, to stock up on drinks and snacks for our hotel. (This store closes early on Sunday so be sure to check the store hours before heading over.) London is a picnic-ready town so it's easy to find things like half-bottles of wine, ready-to-go meals, and even pre-mixed drinks like rum & coke.

If you can, stay up as late as possible on the night you arrive so that your body clock adjusts to local time. We all passed out around 8 p.m. and woke up throughout the night before finally waking up the next morning around 10 a.m. That first night can be a little rough, but if you come without kids, I would definitely recommend a late night coffee or cocktail to get you through so that you are well-rested for day two.

// What to Know Before you Go // 

- Eat - 
Drink plenty of water on your flight so that you aren't dehydrated on top of being jetlagged your first few days in the city. Of course you should have a glass of wine on the plane, but don't over indulge. 

- Stay - 
If you want to jump right in to the London experience I recommend staying somewhere central in the city so that you can explore all that London has to offer. I love the Kensington area because it's walkable to everything. You'll also want to get an Oyster Card so that you can hop on and off the tube. 

- Play -  
The Lego store was a fun first-stop in the city for the kiddos. It's located in Leicester Square which is also on the edge of the theater district. It's a fun place to shop and walk around. The kids will also love the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum which is literally just around the corner. Admission to free, but I encourage you to donate if you can.

- Pack - 
If you're traveling solo you can skip this step, but if you're traveling with kids I recommend packing picnic utensils like forks and spoons so that you can stock your hotel fridge with easy snacks and juice boxes for the kids. Department stores in London generally have food halls in their basement where you can stock up on healthy picnic fare to bring back to your hotel. If you need grocery items for your Airbnb try finding your nearest Waitrose.  


Feb 18, 2017

Fashion Bloggers: Here are 5 Reasons you can't miss the Style Summit

My love affair with blogging started back in 2008 when I launched my first site, Seattle Boutique Blogspot. I have fond memories of staying up late into the night to publish posts about local boutiques and emerging designers. Back then this info could only be found on a handful of websites and I was thrilled to have a platform to help showcase all the cool things happening in the city. 

My blog was originally designed as a shopping resource to help readers discover new boutiques in their own backyard and encourage them to shop local. I spent hours writing shopping guides organized by neighborhood and spent weekends investigating new shops around town. It was through the blogging scene that I first came to meet some of my favorite like-minded lifestyle bloggers in the city including Jess Estrada of FreshJess.com, Cassandra LaValle of Coco Kelley, Andrea Wingert of Skinny Purse, and Alix Rose of AlixRose.com. We would gather on the fringe of fashion events and talk about life, our day jobs, and of course, the fashion items we were currently coveting. 

Fast-forward nearly a decade and the style blogging scene in Seattle is now home to an amazingly diverse community of voices who are developing new niches and creating content that is keeping readers coming back for more. I am so proud to be part of this fashion blogging family and love any opportunity to bring the group together, meet new faces, and discuss the breakneck speed of blogging today. The Style Summit is an extension of that effort, designed to get people offline to meet in real life and talk about the things that matter. "How do you connect with brands you want to work with?" "How do you ask for money?" "Who takes your pictures?" "How do you grow your social media accounts?" These are the conversations happening at fashion events anyway, so who not bring style bloggers together for formal conversations featuring in-the-know brands and bloggers? 

#1- We just announced entrepreneur Alan Gertner as the Keynote speaker. He's been featured by Fast Company, The Globe & Mail, The Huffington Post, and Trend Hunter, plus he's got an inspirational message to spread about finding the work you're meant to do and embracing the journey along the way. 

#2- The Style Summit is the best place to connect with other style bloggers in the city who will help you grow your blog and get involved in the Seattle style scene. 

#3- SO MUCH has changed in the blogging world since we did this event last year and our featured speakers are ready and willing to share coveted insight from their brands that can help you stay competitive in a crowded marketplace. 

#4- You'll be inspired by our featured style bloggers who have leveraged their blogging experience to launch businesses. We are thrilled to be hosting Moorea Seal for the second year in a row. She's been featured by Forbes, Oprah magazine, Entrepreneur, The National Retail Federation, and countless fashion magazines. This year she'll celebrate the third anniversary of her brick-and-mortar store in Belltown and she's gearing up to share her top strategies for brand growth and development. 

#5- Because the Style Summit is a day to call our own. The top agenda is to connect, collaborate and come together as a community. It's going to be an epic day. Don't miss out on your chance to be part of the action!

// The Details // 

100+ style bloggers. Incredible panelists. Thoughtful discussions. One-day-only. 

What: Gossip & Glamour Style Summit, exclusively for fashion and lifestyle bloggers in Seattle

When: Saturday, March 25, 2017

Where: Thompson Seattle 

Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Tickets: Available via Eventbrite click here for more info. 

Hashtag: #SEAstylesummit

Feb 11, 2017

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: Seattle Edition

Valentine's Day is Tuesday, February 14th and there's still time to find something local that your sweetheart with love. Here are 13 gifts that you can pick up locally because we all know you're a last-minute shopper. Guilty as charged. And yes, 13 is my lucky number. Enjoy!

Perfect for soft layering, this Superfine cashmere scoop sweater by local designer Paychi Guh is a sweet pick. Available locally at Juniper boutique in Madrona, $385.

Need something sweet and easy? Pick up a cheeky card and a box of Fran's Chocolates for a friend. With four locations in the Seattle area including Bellevue and University Village, there's definitely a store near you. Shown: 7-pc. salted caramels, $15.

For glamour girls, these Pink Sapphire and Diamond Halo ring from Blue Nile is a beautiful bet. Locals should also check out the Blue Nile Web room at Bellevue Square for a full selection of Valentine's Day gifts.

Valentine's Day may come and go, but the scent of love and roses will remain in the ir with this sweet Olivine Atelier beauty mist. Available locally at Queen Anne Dispatch, Essenza, and Ship Song. 

Perfectly pink and sassy enough to brighten up any outfit, the Fusion Heritage shoe by Brooks Running is perfectly priced at $68.99. Also available in red. Pick-up locally at the Brooks Trailhead store in Fremont on Stone Way.

Jewelry fans will love the Druzy Quartz Ring from JJ Caprices, $98. Perfect for date night! Adjustable band for the perfect fit. Local pick-up available. Handmade in Turkey.

Brighten up an overcast day with these colorful Radient Bella sunglasses available at Moorea Seal in Belltown, $24. Multiple colors available. 

For the ultimate kissable lips, don't miss the limited-edition Saint Laurent "Love your Lips" 3-piece set $65 available at Neiman Marcus in Bellevue. Say goodbye to dry winter lips and hello to pigment-rich color and shine. 

You deserve a little TLC too, so splurge on the Chocolate, Strawberry, and Roses Facial at The Spa at Four Seasons. It starts with a hydrating cleanse using rose oil and follows with an infusion of antioxidants, and a chocolate mousse hydration masque. Available during Valentine's Week only. $150, 50-minutes. 

Perfect for jetsetters looking to travel in style, the Pink and Gray Herschel Backpack has a lifetime warranty and is available at Zumiez, $59.95. The interior features a padded pocket that fits up to a 13'' laptop. 

For something simple yet stunning, Robbins Brothers has you covered with the Lafonn Studs, $155. Sterling silver with cubic zirconia. 

Pretty polish never goes out of style, especially when it's non-toxic and free of pesky chemicals. Shown left to right: Hartleigh, Amanda, Caitlin, Drew, $14 each on Julep.com

For your sweetie with a sweet tooth stop by Nordstrom to pick up a heart-shaped box of truffles by Charbonnel Et Walker, $39.99. 


Feb 7, 2017

Fashion Preview: Brooks Running Spring '17

Brooks Running recently unveiled a colorful Spring '17 collection to a small group of style bloggers and editors in the city. The evening started at the Brooks Running Trailhead store on Stone Way with a short run for guests to test the new gear and get a better feel for the movement and functionality of each piece. The latest collection is designed with the athleisure trend in mind providing equal parts of style and performance on and off the run. Tops are breathable and lightweight, tights and capris feature flat waistbands and sweat-resistant interior pockets, while shoes are responsive with flexible soles. Comfort and convenience play a big role in the collection which includes a healthy mix of seasonal trends including bright, graphic prints, mesh fabrics, and breathable materials that wick moisture from the body. Details make the difference throughout the line with an emphasis on fit and fabric. The collection is designed to be mixed and matched, but savvy shoppers will notice that many pieces pair back to others items in the line including sports bras and colorful prints.

Highlights from the collection include the Fremont tank, the Ghost Crop Running Tight, the Dash Hoodie, and my personal favorite, the PureFlow 6 running shoes (as seen in my pic above). Here is an overview of the spring collection by category.

Sports Bras - Left to right: Uprise Crossback $44, Rebound Racer $50, Embody $68

Tops - Left to right: Fremont tank $50, Streaker Tee $55, Streaker Long Sleeve Tee $68

Jackets - Left to right: LSD Jacket $100, Fremont Jacket $110, Cascadia Shell $100

Bottoms - Left to right: Streaker Capri $85, Ghost Crop Tight $120, Greenlight Running Tights $85

Shoes - Left to right: Ghost 9 $120, Launch 4 $100, Neuro 2 $120

For newbies to the brand, Brooks Running is a Seattle-based company that sells performance footwear and apparel in more than 50 countries worldwide. Stop by the Trailhead store in Fremont to check out a full assortment of Brooks Running gear including the Heritage Collection, which features original styles that have been remixed for wear beyond the run. The company recently released a special edition Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series shoe, the Adrenaline GTS 17, which features an all-over guitar print and retails for $120. 

Brooks Trailhead
3400 Stone Way N. 
Seattle, WA 98103

M-F 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
S-S 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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