Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Taste of Malaysia

Among the many, many things I love about London, the multi-culturalism, the random events and the street food are right up the top. I have never lived anywhere else that is such a melting pot of cultures. Trafalgar Square is known for celebrating London's different cultures and often has events on with street food and music to bring the crowds in. 

This Friday was the turn of Malaysia. I jumped on the tube from work and dived face first into the spring rolls and watched a spectacle of colours and sounds. They were handing out little red flowers- and you can see it wasn't just people in on the act!

The second you stepped of the tube at Charing Cross you could smell a waft of spicy deliciousness that made my tummy rumble. Around the outside of the square were lots of street food stalls selling Malaysian delights, from spicy rendang to pancakes, spring rolls and bubble tea. We started with the coconutty vegetable spring rolls- crispy, greasy, and totally justified for a tee-total Friday. While I was munching the spring rolls I got photographed by the lovely Debbie Bragg, who's amazing photos are on the Malaysia Kitchen facebook. Luckily mine didn't make the cut :)

In the centre of the square was a stage for performances of traditional Malaysian dancing and singing. It was actually really nice- one of the singers (the guy below) had an incredible voice, and the costumes and dances were really interesting.

After we'd eaten a bit more food (garlic chicken wings and satay skewers...mmm), we had a wander around the art market and pop up shops before heading home. I've already looked up that the next Trafalgar Square is Diwali...and I'm definitely going!

Annabel xxx


Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Shoreditch Grind

My new job is nestled between Old Street Station- a part of trendy Shoreditch known as the 'Silicon Roundabout', and Bank Station- an area known for suited and booted city workers marching their way to swanky law and finance offices. Deciding which way to walk when I've finished work can be like deciding between two worlds. 

I'd spent a little bit of time in Shoreditch before taking this job, but not in Old Street or looking under the surface. Shoreditch to me, on the surface, can come across as a little bit try-hard and gaudy- like people are doing things just because they're 'cool' or boundary pushing. However, I have totally fallen in love with Old Street and the undercurrent of the area. 

The vibe of Old Street to me is one of subtle creativity where anything goes. It's truly accepting of all types, including those without skinny jeans and beards. The area is known as the Silicon roundabout for the sheer quantity of tech start ups in the area- and you can really feel it. It's an amazing combination of looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg with the graininess of East London. It still has a lot of homeless people, and a real hipster vibe- anti-establishment. Even the local construction site is labelled 'White Collar Factory'.

This Friday I decided to go out and get some lunch and have a wander. I am usually in such a rush to get to work that I don't get a chance to enjoy what the area has to offer. I started off at the station. Old Street Station has a plethora of pop up shops and interesting food. I went to the French Connection pop up shop and promptly fell in love with all of it. You can tell a huge amount about an area from local cafe signs. Cafes in the City promise posh salads that fit in with the 5:2 diet and can be served in under 30 seconds. Cafes in Old Street take bitcoin, handroast their own organic granola and have enough space for people to work on their macbooks. 

Once I'd finished wandering and photographing, feeling accepted and hungry, I went to Pod. I'd never been before, but I kept looking at it. Since I started my job I've been a bit lazy with healthy food- favouring convenience and longer on the sofa! I got an energiser salad with chicken- quinoa, mint, kale, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and chicken with a lemon dressing and pomegranate seeds. It was soooo yummy. Super filling and energising- just a little bit too much mint for my liking.

As I am a sucker for middle eastern food, I also got a little protein pot of hummus and falafel with sunflower seeds- and it was hands down the best hummus I'd ever had. I didn't think it would be that filling, but it was. I also found it kept me full for a long time and I didn't succum to the constant stream of biscuits that are so common in an office environment. I will definitely be going back.

I usually eat lunch at my desk so it was lovely to get outside and get some headspace. All in all a lovely break!

Annabel xxx

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

So, you want to start a blog?

I've been writing as long as I can remember. I was one of those kids who used to talk to themselves all the time, I loved English at school at I was always scribbling. I started dabbling in blogging for the first time about four years ago, when I first graduated from university. I was totally thrown by the transition from living with three girls at uni to working in a male-dominated industry and I wanted somewhere to ramble. I blogged for a bit here and there for the next few years, until I went through a really bad break up last year. It was awful, and I deleted my old blog completely because I didn't feel like I could write anymore and it was full of pictures of a life I no longer had or felt connected to.

I stopped writing completely for nearly a year, until around christmas last year I found myself scribbling and talking to myself again. I was spending more and more time in London, I was making plans for the future, even if they were baby steps, and I kept thinking about blogging again. I didn't want to do it for a long time- I was worried about the same thing happening- a man, a job or a friend becoming a big part of my life, and therefore, my blog, and then if things changed it not feeling relevant to me anymore. I was also really scared that I would want to make it my job and end up failing or compromising my brand because I'd pushed myself too hard.

I decided at the beginning of this year that I was going to do it again, but I was going to do it differently. I decided that occasionally friends will appear in my blog, but I would keep my work and love life completely seperate from it. I also thought about what I would write about, if I would spend any money on it (answer: $18 a year on my domain name) and that my primary goal would be to enjoy myself! From that rough plan, Annadorabel was born.

How to set up a blog?

The two main competitors for blogs are blogger and wordpress. I've written on wordpress before and I prefer blogger 10 fold. Blogger is a Google product, so all my phone pictures are automatically shared with my blogger account, I have one easy login, and it's all synced with google products. When you first set up a blog, all you really want to think about is how much of a tech geek you are- with wordpress there's more customisation but you have to be able to code. I went with blogger because it's easy, I'm not a coder and it is easier to turn into an income if you want to go that way. Give your blog a name and you're off!


As I said, I'm no coder, and I didn't want to spend money on a proper design for my blog until I'd got it going a bit. It is something I do want to do down the line. Because I was limited on budget and ability I went with something very simple to let my photographs do the talking. Generally I prefer nice clean layouts and I just played around with the blogger templates until I found what worked for me. 


The most important thing if you want to grow your blog at all is to get socialising and enable easy sharing of your blog. I used this youtube tutorial to add the social media buttons to my sidebar to get people to connect with me, and use the addtoany widget to add the share buttons to the bottom of my posts.

Becoming a .com

I chose to add a custom domain to my blog, and bought www.annadorabel.com for $18 a year. I then used blogger's instructions to add my custom domain and google for troubleshooting. It was the only cost of my blog.

What to write?

It can be hard to start a blog because you overthink what to write. Basically, remember you are writing to make yourself happy, so write what you like to read about! I write about fashion, beauty, and London lifestyle because that's what I like talking to my friends about. Don't get too hung up on being an amazing speller or wordsmith- there are lots of really successful blogs where there are mistakes. Remember you are writing for you and not for other people's judgement. There will always be critics (haters gonna hate) but just imagine telling your friends about your day and then write like that. It will give your posts much more authenticity and voice. Read other blogs, but have the confidence to do your own thing because there is no-one like you.


Blogs need photos!! Decide what kind of blog you want to be (I'm still changing and learning!) and match your visual content to that. Initially I used my phone or a small point and shoot camera for blogging, but I invested in a DSLR for travel in June and I've used it for my blog ever since, because it makes such a huge difference. It's a Canon 1100D.

I'm lucky, because I have someone in my life (ahhh, I said no talk of love life!) who's interested in learning about photography and takes most of the photos you'll see here. But in essence, be brave, pick up a tripod from a boot sale (mine was 2 quid!) and practise!

Making money

If you are writing a blog solely for 'free stuff' or a job, then you'll be disappointed. If you are really, really lucky you might end up making a little bit of money from your blog. If that's enough to consider making it your income then you're one in a million. Blogging looks easy but actually takes a lot of work. 

Having said that, if you genuinely love it and it becomes successful you can monetize your blog using affiliate networking and adverts. I have adverts in the side bar and my links to things I've bought are monetized if you buy something through Skimlinks. Say for example I show you a Topshop dress that I bought, and you click on the link and buy something from Topshop, I would get a very, very small tip from topshop for the referral. Like a 'thanks' for the custom. I will never use pop-up, roll-over or ad words- in other words, intrusive advertising, the same way I will never talk about something I don't like because it's free. It's way more important to have a voice people trust and a brand that's strongly 'you' than sell yourself out and lose your readers trust over some free tat.

After all my rambling, I think Rosie puts it the best:

"Most importantly, have fun! Don't stress about blogging, if it stops being fun stop doing it.
You are interesting.
Your world is totally different to mine, your parents, even your best friend's world.
You see things differently and take different things from each experience.
Blogging is your way of showing the world a different view & a window into your life. I actually found a whole new appreciation for my life when I started blogging, mundane things that I thought everybody did were suddenly new & exciting to some people. When I'm cold & complaining, people will comment from Australia & tell me how their day's going. It makes the world a much smaller, friendlier place. And at the very least, you'll have an awesome scrapbook to look back at when you're old & grey."
Annabel xxx

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

First Week of New Job- In Outfits

Some of you know already, because I haven't shut up about it on Twitter- but I started a new job last Monday. I think probably the best way to describe it is my dream job- I am responsible for Digital Marketing, which means I get to spend my days writing websites and turning social media presence into revenue. It was a good week- it was a bit of a culture shock having to get up so early so consistently, I had a huge amount to learn and so was exhausted, and am now poorly! I think when you finally stop after a long period of worrying then that's when you tend to get ill.

Despite that, I had a great week. I wanted to show you what I wore for the week through my selfies I took in the morning. It's a creative, chilled out office. Some people dress very corporately and some dress in jeans and tshirts. I decided to err on the site of smart, with the exception of dress down Friday.

I've put them from left to right, Monday to Friday. I wore my trainers into the office so that's why you can't see my feet- but in the description I'll link to the shoes I wore.


Trousers- H&M
Top- New Look
Coat- Primark
Necklace- Topshop
Shoes - Kurt Geiger


Trousers- H&M
Dress (worn as top)- New Look
Watch- Kenneth Cole (no longer in stock, similar here)
Shoes- New Look


Trousers- Primark
Top- New Look
Necklace- Topshop (old)
Shoes- Kurt Geiger, as before


Dress- Tesco
Scarf- Topshop
Shoes- New Look, as before

Friday (Dress down)

Boyfriend Jeans - New Look
Top - New Look
Cardigan - New Look
Necklace- Asos
Socks- New Look
Boots- Topshop (last years, similar here)
Bag- Topshop

Annabel xxx

Monday, 22 September 2014

10 Beauty Words Decoded

The beauty industry is full of new words all the time. After a few people asked me what I meant by certain things, I thought I would decode some current ones. I tried seeing if any of the usual magazine suspects had a cheat sheet of definitions, but Google proved fruitless and just kept telling me about the potential health benefits of acai berries. Can't say I didn't try.

1. BB Cream- It stands for 'beauty balm', and is a moisturiser, primer, sunscreen and foundation all in one. I wear one everyday- No 17 BB Cream is my favourite- I find it lighter than foundation, improves my skin tone and has SPF 25, so I feel like I am doing something about anti-ageing.

2. CC Cream- Stands for 'Colour Control' so it's perfect for people who want to balance out redness and even skin tone. Personally I would say CC creams are better for older skin as they're super blendable and will hide age spots and broken capillaries, whereas for younger skin a BB cream is a better bet for clearing your skin and protecting you against the elements.

3. Balayage- Refers to a technique of hair highlighting that's done freehand- i.e. without foils- so that the colourist can get a rough, natural look. I suggested it to my hairdresser when I last got it coloured, but she said it wasn't necessary. I think this one will be a bit of a flash in the pan as a good hairdresser should be able to avoid the stripy look with well placed foils anyway.

4. Undercut- Is a big trend right now where you shave a section of your head, underneath your hair, so that you get a cool, edgy look when you tie up or section the top part.

5. Coconut Oil- Having a moment recently. You can buy coconut oil from health food shops, and it's best to get the pure, unrefined, unscented variety without any additives. It's good for almost everything, from cooking, to massages, to sealing and nourishing split ends. A lot of people are raving about it as a lubricant too...if Bounty bars turn you on.

6. Shellac- An ultra-tough nail varnish used in manicures that is made out of shells. Super shiny and hard wearing, you only have to change nail varnish colours when regrowth starts to show, and it's not as bad for your nails as gel.

7. Primers- Primers for eyes and skin are not interchangeable. While skin primer (my favourite is Instablur*) is smoothing and silky, eye primer is sticky, to enable the pigment to stick to your eyelids. They go under your make up to increase longevity.

8. Stippling- Is the process of using a stippling brush to apply your foundation in a 'dabbing' motion instead of sweeping. It pushes the foundation into your skin and gives heavier coverage. Personally as I have quite dry skin I'm not a fan of this method- I tend to use my fingers to warm up the product so it goes on smoothly, but a lot of people rave about it.

9. Contouring- Pinterest is your holy grail for learning this one, but to simplify, dark colours create shadows, and push elements of your face back. Light, bright colours bring elements forward. With contouring, you apply dark colours, namely bronzer, to the hollows of your cheeks (under your cheek bones when you suck your cheeks in), under your jaw line, and to any imperfections in your nose (widen, narrow etc). You then apply highlighter to where you want to pop out on your new slim face depending on your face shape. Sides of nose, t-zone, brow bone etc. You can basically make the face shape you always wish you had. I use a Sleek contour palette for this. Be careful, it is SUPER pigmented and you don't want to look like an oompa-loompa.

10. Chalking- Hair chalking has been around for a good while, but it's having a revival since Bleach London brought their range out in Boots. It's a non-permanent, fun way of adding coloured sections to your hair for festivals and the like. You basically select a section and colour it in with the chalk.

Did you find this helpful? Is there anything else that has you baffled?

Annabel xxx

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Sunday, 21 September 2014

WC Clapham- Drinks in a Toilet

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was important that I checked out the new bar- WC- that's opened on Clapham Common- it's a converted toilet. It was very hard to take photos with the light but we managed to get a few to show you what it's like. In a word- quirky. A great date spot.

The bar is down the bottom of some spiral stairs, lit by candlelight and through an old creaky wooden door. 

It's warm and cosy, with charcuterie hanging from the bar and very clever use of space. The old stalls have turned into booths for small groups, and the doors have been upended and used as tables. The old cisterns are still there, and in the toilet you can see love notes they found hidden behind the tiles during renovation. You can use those facts on your date. You're welcome. 

As you can see, getting pictures was difficult. It's really dark, so flash tended to white everything out whereas turning it off made things kinda blurry. Really need one of those fancy flash bouncing things. Or less wine.

Speaking of, the wine was lovely. I'm a big stickler for red wine, so many places serve it too cold. This was perfect- body temperature and lovely. I was stuffed from a trip earlier in the evening to Gastro- but the cheese and charcuterie boards did look yummy. The cocktails were also excellent. Mainly, I couldn't stop staring at the surroundings and trying to imagine myself in Victorian London pulling out my very own love letter from the tiles.

Annabel xx

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Print Blazer

I love Primark. I think it is the perfect place to get statement pieces where you aren't really sure if you're brave enough to pull it off. Because you haven't spent that much money you can dip your toes in trends or wear trends that aren't likely to last very long without feeling it in your pocket.

I usually go to the Primark on Tottenham Court Road...which is ok, but tends to be very busy! The other day I had a day off and so I went with my friend to one of the holy grail Primarks. Super tidy, not so big you get stressed looking at it (bigger is not always better with Primark!) and had all the sizes because they hadn't been snapped up.

I saw this printed jacket and I HAD to have it.  It was £17.

I wore it with some H&M skinnies (by the way, are they getting smaller?! Why is a size bigger still tight??) rolled up, a black vest and a necklace from New Look which I can't find online. (Similar here). New Look have some incredible jewellery at the moment!

My lipstick is Rimmel Moisture Renew in Oxford Street Fuschia.

Annabel xxx


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

3 Jewellery brands you should check out now

It's no secret to people who know me that I'm a magpie. I absolutely love jewellery, accessories, and all things interesting. This autumn there is some SERIOUSLY beautiful jewellery about, and it is all I can do not to run screaming down the high street with my debit card shouting 'shut up and take my money!!'. This post, I hope to inspire you with some new jewellery brands and collections and hope your inner magpie is unleashed too. I just want to point out, this post is not sponsored or affiliated in any way..I am just this passionate about jewellery.

1. Z for Accessorize is JUST the most beautiful thing ever. I was walking home the other day and thought I'd stop in and was absolutely blown away. The pictures on the website don't do it justice, it's intricate, dainty and beautiful- rose quartz and moonstone rings, filigree indian inspired earrings and new-age necklaces with lotus flowers, coins and arrowheads.

2. Ottoman Hands at Asos is a chunky, Turkish inspired brand specialising in gold and precious stone. It's a brand that is forever in my Asos wishlist. It is a bit pricey, which is why I've never actually hit 'buy'.

3. Orelia (stocked at Topshop and online) is lovely. I fell in love with a tiny dainty wishbone pendant on a long chain last time I was there. It's a lovely brand for gifts and do some cute temporary tattoos too.

Does anybody else have any hidden 'gems'? (get it?!) Please share! I'm always on the look out for new brands.

Annabel xxx
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