Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Style Passport

If it had escaped your attention I go on holiday this week. So of course chaos ensues. It's human nature to purchase a whole new set of beauty products despite the fact you may very well own pretty much everything you need already. Of course there's also the new swimwear, sandals, day dresses, evening dresses, sunglasses...the list is, quite frankly, endless. In fact I am currently composing a still need/to do list in my head as I place these words on this screen. FYI it's a very jumbled list.  I spent a good deal of my Saturday afternoon wandering around Boots aimlessly trying to figure out if spf 15 cocoa butter was technically the same as sunscreen and "which aisle is the travel toothpaste for heavens sake."

In truth, I have no idea what I'm doing.
I still have a burlesque outfit to organise (don't ask)...oh dear, too late to order a corset on line now...I do have those gold sequin knickers though...what on top...hmm...I really don't want to dress up...maybe I'll be able to fashion something out of...something, tonight?  Too late?...I digress but you get the picture.
Fear not though my friends, Style Passport to the rescue. Not my rescue unfortunately.  I'm so disorganised with my disorganisation that I couldn't even get my last minute self, to get my act together enough, to take advantage of this glorious website but there's still hope for the rest of you.
I first came across Style Passport in Stylist Magazine a few weeks back when the CEO, Sarah Walter (who has a wealth of fashion experience ranging from Vogue to New Look) was featured in an article. The site has only been live for a month or two but is an absolute maven for what every disorganised diva needs for her holidays. The handpicked products range from high street to designer prices, most being at the higher end of the spectrum but a lot of the products are their "favourite and most trusted pieces", which means you're not taking a gamble on trying something new!

 It's not just the carefully selected products that makes it a travel go-to though, it's the hassle-free and fool-proof way you can shop for these products.  Forget compiling neverending lists and creating outlandish "what if" scenario's in your head.  Style Passport figures all this nonsense out for you with one simple tab. Shop. By. Destination. 

City.  Staycation.  Spa.  Festival.  Beach.

So I saunter over to Beach, in which I am greeted with the following...

I don't own any of these products and most likely need all of them, only highlighting I shouldn't be left to my own travel shopping devices.  Flick through the pages and you'll find everything from the most stunning bikini's to the most appropriate shade nail polish for a tan.  My favourite page was Hippie Chic.

No beach pebble is left unturned on this site, even down to the journey itself.  I never think about the journey.

I found some really cool pieces that I would have loved to have ordered in time that will definitely be re-visited for my trip to Tuscany.  They will also probably be featured on my "things I wish I'd known about/purchased in time" blog post, some time after my return.  Check out Style Passport here to relieve all your travel woes and check them out on twitter @style_passport for helpful hints, as well as being able to chat to the team live on Skype re any of your holiday/product questions.  There's no hope left for me but with one click of a mouse you can be packed and ready way in advance!

*Images taken from http://www.style-passport.com/

Monday, 23 May 2011

Movie Monday: French Kiss

In keeping with my holiday theme I chose French Kiss for today's Movie Monday, for the following reason...

That will be me Thursday morning.

The film follows Kate (Meg Ryan) as she attempts to claim what is rightfully hers, her fiance, from the clutches of a Parisian goddess. She tackles her fear of flying and defies the Canadian government by leaving the country whilst still awaiting her visa, only to jump from one crisis to another. Luc (Kevin Kline) is her unfortunate partner in crime after a chance meeting on a plane. He epitomises everything she despises and the pair immediately detest each other. Despite this Luc attempts to help the damsel in distress, much to her annoyance and manages to hatch a plan with her to win Charlie (Timothy Hutton) back.

This film isn't rocket science but it is entertaining. Ryan's highly strung, neurotic qualities adds to the humour especially when played opposite laid back, antagonistic Kline.  In fact it is his comedic timing and analysis of Ryan's character that is the particular catalyst for most of the laughs.  My only great criticism is the ability to empathise with Ryan after being jilted.  Hutton is no George Clooney.
Tune in...
If you like romantic comedies, basically anything that Meg Ryan's in.

Tune out...
If neurotic female leads make you want to poke yourself in the eye.

Perfect for...
A saturday night alone, with a bottle of red wine and baked camembert in a box avec french bread. C'est magnifique!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Stove on Sunday: My Favourite Food Blogs

Diet deprivation has lead me on a downward spiral. I've fallen into some kind of baking obsession. I am consumed with the overwhelming need to make light fluffy cupcakes with extraordinary icings, melt in your mouth brownies and a whole hoard of other delectable delights. Instead I've signed up to like a million food blogs, most with a baked goods emphasis. There is a list the size of my arm of recipes I can't wait to try once I'm back from Marbella but I'm climbing the walls with desperation to start creating now!

In my baking rampage I have come across some superb blogs that I wanted to share with you in place of a recipe I've tried of late (because I haven't tried any...ugh).

So, in no particular order the baking beauties are as follows...

Just take a look at these super cute Easter cupcakes...

Need I say more?!

Since clicking Google Friend Connect about a week ago I have been dying to try this Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe.

This kind of naughty treat reminds me of when I used to live in the States and for those that know me you'll also know that my coffee obsession runs just as high, so this is a must!

Fast becoming one of my favourite blogs full stop, no matter whether the recipe is savoury or sweet she seems to encompass all the things I love.

All things Cake Pops...

I have been following Bianca's blog for some time, partly because she lives in Boston so it's like reading about my home away from home.  Not only does she blog about sumptuous meals she recreates from her dining experiences but also she relates back a lot to personal experiences and her family, in relation to food.  For that reason there is something so comforting about travelling with her on her food journey, that literally makes it feel as if you can hear her speak.

Bianca's French style scrambled eggs with truffles.  Divine.

For the inventive baker.

I discovered this blog on Friday via the Beantown Baker and these pumpkin muffins have me in a tizz!

Posting pictures from other baking blogs means that not only do you grab some cute ideas but you also discover even more cupcake blogs.

Violet cupcake from the cupcake blog via la despensa del gnomo

Hayley was an American exchange student at my University.  She's a bit of a sporadic blogger like myself but when she does post it's the romance of her food writing that makes reading addictive.  I particularly loved her post entitled The Heart and Soul of a Little Bakery

For his Doughnut of the Week posts alone, it's a must read.

Drooling...but must remember "No carbs before Marbs!"

*Images taken from the respective blogs unless stated otherwise

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Building a Life of Luxury. One Box at a Time.

This is a totally unplanned post but I feel as if it is my duty to enlighten you, as I have been. If you are an avid beauty blog reader then I give you permission to avert your eyes now as you've probably seen this three times over already. You've probably even got one! For those of you that have clearly been living in some kind of parallel universe, where you aren't privy to exciting little launches of superb ideas, that will make us all squeal with delight, like me, then read on.

I've had a lovefilm subscription, an organic veg box subscription and I've had many a magazine subscription but there is one club, until yesterday, that I hadn't pledged to and I literally have no clue how I missed such a defining moment. I work in the beauty industry for christs sake!

Yesterday beauty bloggers were all *a-twitter* about the Glossy Box. "Say what?!" That was my response but literally every one of them was documenting the arrival of this marvel. It wasn't until I sauntered over to amodelrecommends that I truly comprehended what the hype was all about. Cue stroppy Louisa. I believe my tweet read something along these lines...

"Still spitting feathers over fact I only heard about @glossyboxuk 2day. I want a @Narsissist illuminator. *Louisa stamps feet*"

The Glossy Box is such a simple idea and yet it's genius! Register here and for £10 a month you'll receive a beautiful package of miniature luxury products. The perfect solution to try before you buy.

May's Glossy Box *sob*

From a brands perspective contributing is a no brainer. You get your product infront of two types of people. Beauty mavens whom are very likely to purchase if they're pleased with your product. Or women who would love to own high end products but maybe can't quite justify the cost until they try your product, fall in love and decide to invest.  Either way, everyone's winning.

I signed up in a heartbeat but unfortunately May's box is completely sold out. Hence my previous twitter rant. That Nars illuminator would have been perfect for my trip next week. I just hope the June box has the wow factor that this months had.

*image taken from http://www.glossybox.co.uk/

Friday, 20 May 2011

Something for the Weekend...

With the holiday looming the Bank of Louisa is looking a little sad.  I've had to book champagne parties, airport hotels, purchase bikini's and travel essentials, amongst other extravagances.  With pay day so rudely positioned at the end of my holiday I really have to make sure that my fun in the sun won't be compromised with any pre-vacation activity.  Therefore this weekend the Bank of Louisa is closed.

This is me looking pissed off
I can think of plenty of things I can occupy myself with over the coming few days...mainly involving organising and packing (my mother is reading this right now and shaking her head in sheer disbelief before she utters the words "Louisa you won't though, you'll leave it to the last minute...").  I can also think of plenty of things I could be doing in order to procrastinate from doing said organising and packing.  This scenario is far more likely.  So with no further ado I hereby re-instate Something for the Weekend...the credit busting version...

Rumour has it there's a heat wave heading to England, supposedly arriving around abouts.....now.  So ultimately I'm aiming to boost my potential tannage, especially with my colleague Molly due back in the office next week, post Thailand.  As petty and immature as this may sound, as well as kind of a health risk (don't try this at home kids) I will only be in Marbella for 5 days and I do plan on beating Molly for most enviable tan when I get back, so some "tanning revision" is required.  My first recommendation therefore is to enjoy our beautiful weather, for free!  But remember, as Baz Luhrman says..."Wear Sunscreen".

If for whatever reason the British weather has lied to us, very plausible, then here's some freebies I'm vibing this weekend...

Sky Movies is showing some of my faves...

The Sound of Music.  A feel good classic.  If you haven't seen it, you must and if you have you'll want to again.  I still desperately wish I was Julie Andrews, I still fancy Christopher Plummer in this, even though he's meant to be a meany in real life, I sill think Gretel is the most adorable child and always want to squeeze her cheeks and I STILL know all the words to all the songs.  I have such an obsession with this motion picture that I am forcing the kids I teach singing to on Saturday mornings to perform So Long Farewell for their summer show.

Housesitter.  This is laugh out loud funny.  Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin have a one night stand only for her to seek out the house he built for his ex-girlfriend.  After breaking and entering, broke Hawn, decides she needs some essentials.  One thing leads to another and before you know it Hawn's passing herself off as Martin's wife, even to his parents.  The white lie spirals out of control and suddenly they're a con double act, duping friends and family!  Although nothing like The Sound of Music or Julie Andrews, I kind of want to be Goldie Hawn too.  I'm starting to sense a theme.  Basically I'm recommending films of which I wish I was the leading lady.  Her outfits in this are cute too and who doesn't love a little fashion throw back.

Love Story.  Personally I'm a bit of a seasonal movie watcher, aka if the films a wintry film, viewing is limited to the winter.  Technically this deals with all seasons but it's melancholy nature and it's high volume of snow covered scenes means I can't quite imagine watching it this time of year.  That said, this film is a beautiful story about Love (no kidding Louisa) with some of the most wonderful music, I even have the theme on my ipod, talk about depressing.  I think I'll probably do a Movie Monday with this later in the year but if for nothing else, watch it for Ali McGraw's adorable tartan skirts and matching scarfs, a good cry and that famous line "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

I found a trailer with French subtitles to add a little culture to the blog...or because I couldn't find one without them.  I'll let you decide.

Alternatively you can still catch The Romantics, full trailer (without French subtitles) and review on Movie Monday here!

Instead of credit busting you could do a little credit boosting.  For £10 a class or £100 for twelve, Staples are holding business start-up classes on Saturday mornings, beginning this weekend.  I'm working on a project currently and I have many more extreme plans that potentially could benefit from having a little know how before I jump into the entrepeneurial pool. These are really reasonably priced and only last an hour each week.  That way if you decide it's not for you then you've barely made a commitment time or money wise.  Or this could be the first step to making your millions!  For more information check out http://www.startupsaturday.co.uk/

Finally, neither credit busting nor credit boosting I have a little social recommendation.  This is very location based, as in if you don't live near Rochester in Kent then this is going to be utterly useless information.  If you plan to visit some day then keep reading.  One of my favourite haunts the Rochester Coffee Company are embarking on a new venture in the form of a wine and cocktail bar, Oliver's.  This is very me.  Unfortunately my household location makes me rather provincial and us provincials get rather excited when something a little bit cosmopolitan, read London, comes our way.  The members only bar has just launched but this Saturday are opening their doors to whomever, as long as you're 21 to sample the members only life.  If it's anything like their sister company then this should be a hit.  I'll report back on the findings but you can get more information over at their facebook page here.

To cheer us credit busting types up here's a picture of one of my best friends with a toy monkey round her neck, just because.


*Image taken from Oliver's Facebook Page

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Art of Summer

With T minus 7 days until I head to Marbella I am officially declaring To Elle and Back a holiday zone.

For weeks now I've stumbled across many a make-up delight that have taken full advantage of the upcoming summer season.  Each item has put it's own little spin on sun, sea and sand.  The unique touches to the packaging, product, name are bound to brighten up any girls make-up bag.  All virtually impossible to resist.

£18 at Simple Beauty

The DuWop Mermaid Antique Sea Shell eye compact promises to adorn you in a chic shimmer.  Personally it's the adorable shell themed packaging that's sold it for me.  Purchasing solely for packaging would be irresponsible though, right?  On the other hand it would look super cool whilst lounging by the pool.  "Mirror anyone?"...."Just let me grab my trusty shell!"

£29 at Estee Lauder
Who doesn't love a starfish sprawled across a sandy dune?  Again a cute slant on bronzer that made me rush to the nearest Estee Lauder counter.  This has been hailed by many a beauty blogger for being a superbly light bronzer, allowing for paler skins to gain a healthy glow without looking like they've been tangoed.  I had this applied in store with a view to purchase.  However, it wasn't for me.  I personally didn't like the shade on my skin as it seemed too peachy and I suppose I am still very much married to my Chanel bronzer.  I can't quite tell if I'm stuck in my ways or whether it is perhaps the most amazing bronzer in the World but most pale (no pun intended) into comparison and I'm afraid this includes the Bronze Goddess Sea Star.  If my purchase was based on the visual concept alone though, consider it a staple in my beauty bag!

£73 at Space NK
I started obsessing over owning my very own Sea Turtle embossed eyeshadows, cheek tint and liner after Mindy Kaling tweeted an image of this pallette from Chantecaille about a month ago. Then I popped into Space NK, saw the beauty in real life and fell in love all over again only to discover that YIKES it's a whopping £73.  It is created with the highest quality pearl and pigment particles and it is divine.  I guess I don't need to eat on holiday and if I didn't then I'd get drunk quicker and then I'd spend even less money, therefore meaning essentially I could justify this extravagance, right? RIGHT???

£29 at Selfridges
Finally the Nars Laguna Multiple doesn't quite have the artistic tendencies of the prior products but it's called Laguna.  To me this is reminiscent of sunkissed teenagers, hanging out at the beach and Lauren Conrad.  Anything that can potentially give me a Lauren Conrad lifestyle is a must have.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

To Buy or Not to Buy? A Shopaholic's Demise...

I received this email this morning...

...which is never good news because it means I inevitably dream about doing this...

So of course I bounded over to discover this little gem....

Adam at The Outnet

....which I have fallen desperately in love with.

Why do I like it?  Well it lands just on the right side of sophisticated fun.  A little nod to the 80's with this lame (this should read lam-eh not lame but how you do those slanty things on a PC I'll never know) skirt and it's BABY PINK!  Baby pink and lame *cough* lam-eh, the perfect mix of tacky edge.  I want it.  I need it.  I must have it.  For £108 it of course isn't too pricey, unless of course you have a holiday looming and still need to purchase for, plus acquire spending money for, along with attempting to reimburse your credit card, which is exactly where I currently am on this fine Tuesday.  Damn it.

For £108 I also should purchase for pure *social Louisa* but I can't help but team it with a chiffon black shirt, my flat black bandage sandals and some funky gold statement jewellery for *work Louisa*....It is £108 from £215 though...oh what to do?!

To buy or not to buy? That is the question.

I need support in this moment of great quandary.

Honourable mentions should also go to these fabulous credit busting finds...

Elizabeth and James £110 from £315
Mechante of London £182 from £520
Sigerson Morrison £216 from £480
Alexander Wang £602 from £1720
All available at The Outnet with up to 70% with no end date specified.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Movie Monday: The Romantics

I'm a sucker for emotionally real films that usually reside on the Woody Allen-esque side of cinema. Occasionally there's the odd film replaying on Sky Movies that fits this bill, usually with a fairly good cast and more often than not one that has fallen into obscurity before it's even been released. This weekend I discovered The Romantics.

The cast was brimming with famous faces, Candice Bergen, Josh Duhamel, Elijah Wood, Anna Paquin, Diana Agron, that dude that played Seth in the OC (let's face it he's adorable but if I placed his real name here I'm pretty sure you'd have "who the hell?" faces on, this way we're all on the same page) and Katie Holmes, whom also produced it. Despite it's celebrity friends I have never heard of this movie, I'm pretty sure it's one of those "straight to DVD job-ees" and as my sister, who took her film AS level today, kept on emphasising in some random, revision, research attempt, it's only ever made $106,000 to date.

I'm really selling this for you aren't I?!

The synopsis on Sky Movies is as follows:
"A group of old friends attend a wedding, reigniting a love triangle between bride Anna Paquin, groom Josh Duhamel and writer Katie Holmes."

This was enough to seduce me on Saturday night to record a later showing for the following day.

Upon viewing, it was everything I expected it to be, dark, emotionally tortured and disappointingly honest, aka it didn't stick to the Hollywood ideals of love, romance and happy endings. For the most part it was awkward too. The relationships weren't the only honest facets of the film, there was a particularly cringeworthy scene at a rehearsal dinner when everyones drink fuelled speeches are horrifically tense and generally defy social acceptability. Refreshingly nobody looked particularly glamorous or visually beautiful either, another trait of these "say it how it is" movies that I happen to like.

Spoiler Alert!
The ending was one of those unresolved cliffhanger types, take from it what you will. Or maybe it really did just have no ending. I'm still on the fence with this.

Tune In...
If you like Hannah and her Sisters, Closer, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, hand held camera movies that give it that "you're really there" vibe and emotional disappointment.

Tune out...
If you despise all the things above which most people I know do.

This film really only caters to a specific type. Personally I enjoyed it, enough to watch it again and to own on DVD. My recommendation would be to cosy up to this stark look at romance and friendships on a rainy Saturday afternoon, with a blanket, hot tea, sticky cinnamon buns and a "love sucks" attitude.

The Romantics is showing on Sky Movies until they stop playing it.

*Image taken from www.movies.sky.com

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Stove on Sunday: Dukan Pancakes

So I haven't posted in a long time.  Like 5 months long.  Which is bad and doesn't really scream credible blogger that loves to write but even though I haven't physically posted I have been creating posts in my head for some time and I still keep up to date with all my fave blogs that I adore to read.  Spiritually I have still been a part of the blogging World.  I do love to write and I have really missed this thing which is why finally I've sat myself in our dining room at this very computer and began to compose this post.  I can't promise I won't fall off the radar again but I'm hoping that it won't be the case.  I actually really enjoy these moments of solitude whilst I gather my thoughts and ideas.  I get a buzz from experiencing or seeing things and immediately declaring in my head that "they shall be a part of this blog post with this title and I'm going to say this about it" but unfortunately of late (these past 5 months) that is as far as my blogging process has ever gotten.  My absence has been both due to my busy life and laziness.  The laziness is actually what follows my hectic schedule.  I work a full time job, with a long enough commute ( who doesn't I hear you scream) and then teach on a Saturday.  Both take up an enormous amount of my time and then with trying to fit a social life and some moments to just crash in, by the time I even have the opportunity to sit here and post, I just want to sleep.  I also have giveaway prizes that have never been sent from December which just makes me feel evil, rude and a fraud.  Another reason that I attribute my lack of posting to, sheer embarrassment.  Those that won shall expect an email from me today just checking addresses in case anyones circumstances have changed and they shall also get an extra something as my means of apology/bribe!

On that note I wanted to start my reunion with what I hope will become a regular post The Stove on Sunday.  I can't really define a genre for my blog as I am a mish mash of lots of different things which is why my interests are so varied and therefore there is no strong link between any of my posts.  I'm not a beauty blog, a fashion blog or a food blog.  I'm all of those things.  I'm also a movie, book and restaurant reviewer, a dweller on memories and someone that generally likes to regale people with moments from my life, hunourous or otherwise.  And so I begin...(again!)...

I'm headed to Marbella in under two weeks, which horrifies me as I type this as I really haven't prepared myself.  One thing I have made sure I've organised by the 26th however, is my diet.  I don't really need to lose weight, in fact most people look at me like I'm a crazy person when I say I'm on one and that I've lost half a stone (7lbs) BUT I have been eating way more than necessary of late, especially cakes, biscuits and chocolate, at work and there have been a nice ring of rolls that have formed around my waist line.  Ones that I have been perfectly happy to keep under wraps, until now.  The recent series of The Only Way is Essex has also helped spurr me on.  I by no means wish to look like any of the girls on that show, it's just not my style but I do know that there will be a lot of girls that do look like them by the pool on my upcoming trip (including possibly them) and I know that I have to feel confident and comfortable in my own body, especially if there are going to be these perfectly coiffed beauties around to compare myself to.  My mum has been on the Dukan Diet for some time now and lost about 2 stone and the whole hype of this new-found fat buster has been extra relevant due to it supposedly being the diet of choice by the Middletons before the Royal Wedding

So in true TOWIE style I decided to take on their much beloved phrase of "No carbs before Marbs" and embrace the Dukan, at least for a little while.  I'm really pleased with the diet and the results so far and I really don't feel like I've been too deprived.  Feeling like I'm missing out on my favourite foods is a big no no for me!  One of the things that has kept me going is my mum and the fact that she knows all these little sources for finding low in fat and low in carb ways to create food that isn't too far off the mark of what you would eat in your normal day to day life.  Which brings me to the matter in hand...pancakes with cinnamon butter.  How could these possibly be low in fat and good for you?  Because it's the Dukan way.

I think these are lovely and you don't need to be on the Dukan diet to enjoy them.  When it comes down to it we all love indulgent things but if anyone is watching the pounds or generally feels horrifically bloated after such a treat then this is the best way to combat those issues without compromising on flavour.

You Will Need
1 egg
Oat bran
Less than 2% fat natural yoghurt (check sugars as well, they should be under 6g)
Less than 5% fat cream cheese (same rules apply, it should really be less than 2% but thats virtually impossible with cream cheese unless you make it yourself)

1.  Put the frying pan on a high heat with just a drop of oil so as not to burn the pancakes.

2.  Mix the egg, a tablespoon and a half of oat bran and a tablespoon of the yoghurt together.  This will create the batter.

3.  Mix a tablespoon of the cream cheese with your desired amount of cinnamon and a sprinkling of sweetener in a seperate bowl.

4. When the pan is steaming hot pour in the batter mix to create a small fat scotch pancake style size and cook until brown on both sides (they will be slightly softer than your average pancakes).

5.  Serve the pancakes hot with a dollop of the cinnamon butter on top which should warm also and begin to melt a little.

Simples.  The ingredients make two pancakes and if you're on the Dukan diet is the most you should have of anything like this for the day.  This breakfast really hits the spot though without making me feel like an absolute heffer, as pancakes so often do with me!

I teamed this with the very last of my favourite french vanilla coffee from Dunkin Donuts (sob!) and old episodes of Dawson's Creek.  A blissful start to any Sunday.

A picture of my pancakes would have been really good here but I didn't take one and so that's life.
*Pictures taken from (in order) destructoid.com, the Mail Online and hopingforsomthingtohopefor.blogspot.com
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