Recent Reads: The Royal We, I Know How She Does It, The Woman Who Stole My Life and China Rich Girlfriend

I love this time of year for reading.  Darker nights just cry out for curling up somewhere cosy with a good book.  Rainier days mean the tube is more common than a walk, which further adds to the stock of time available for reading.  Here's what I've been enjoying lately.

Note:  I have used affiliate links to the books - I always try to declare this so if you'd prefer not to click on these you can avoid.

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I Love Your Blog: Le Coin De Mel

I first met Mel, the wonderful blogger who writes at Le Coin de Mel, at a blogger photography event earlier this year.  She was funny, charming and oh-so-intelligent and we soon hit it off, bonding over a shared love of cooking and a mutual career-change-in-waiting being in common (we both left teaching in the summer).  When I was putting together my picks for 'I Love Your Blog' she was a clear choice for inclusion - she writes well, takes amazing photographs and is a whizz in the kitchen too!  I loved hearing what she had to say, and hope you'll enjoy her interview.

1.          How long have you been blogging?

I have been writing ‘Le Coin de Mel’  for almost two years, but my first attempt at blogging was in the form of a travel diary back in 2007. That summer, Hubby and I travelled to Rwanda. We went all around the country, taught there, visited several schools and were fortunate enough to see gorillas in their natural habitat.

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Rennie Happy Eating with Sorted Food

I love a good bit of youtube watching.  I often get stuck in loops, where Beyoncé's 'Flawless' runs into vintage JayZ into a TV clip, then a quote from a movie and so on.  These loops can take some interesting turns and are how I've found some of my favourite youtube creators and vloggers.

A group whose videos I always look forward to are the boys from Sorted Food, who specialise in inventive, fun food that's accessible and served up with plenty of fun and chat.  I've tried a few of their creations before, so when I got an email inviting me to an event they were part of I was very much looking forward to meeting them and getting a glimpse behind the scenes of their cooking.

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A Crafty Sunday

A couple of weeks ago I was very kindly invited by Hillarys to attend a Crafternoon event, where we'd be making a variety of items inspired by their latest range of blinds and upholstery.  They've been holding these crafty get-togethers all over the country and I was very pleased to attend the London rotation.

We met at the always lovely Drink, Shop and Do near Kings Cross and settled down with lovely cups of tea and cake for those who wished to partake (I was far too stuffed from a gorgeous brunch at Christopher's to join in with that particular fun - such is the peril of a Sunday event!).

We had a great time making jewellry boxes and rosettes and I loved the new range of fabrics and style (particularly the 'Jewel' collection, which had me daydreaming of new curtains for my study for the cold winter months!  Very few pictures were taken on this occasion as I was reeeeeeeally concentrating.  Crafting is hard, yo.

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A Happy Return

When she still lived in London, before flying back to her native Texas, my lovely friend Kate lived over in the beautiful postcode of SW7.  She and I had a monthly dinner get-together, where we would catch up over crepes or some good lasagne, and get each other up to speed on all the goings on in our lives.  Those dinners were great fun and I always looked forward to good company and yummy food.  These little events are part of the patchwork which can make our days and weeks and months all the more enjoyable, don't you think?

Since Kate returned to the States I've found myself in the Gloucester Road/South Kensington region a little less.  I found myself back there last week though, when I was kindly invited by Millennium Hotels to a meal and a look around two of their properties on that side of town. 

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And the winner is.......

Those of you who read here regularly may recall my 'Smart Women Week' inspired giveaway.  After a fortnight of entries, comments and tweets, the drawing has now closed and we have a winner - Congratulations, Donna C!

I'll be in touch with an email very soon to get your contact details and to whizz your prize to you next week!  Thank you to everyibne who entered and for all the great nominations of your smart women. I'll try to do another giveaway next month - this one was such fun!

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Scottish Invasion at London Cocktail Week

Last week in London we were all hitting the bar as we toasted the fun that is London Cocktail Week.  There were events all over the city celebrating all that is good in the world of tipples, and I was sure to mark the occasion in my diary.  I was delighted to see that a Scottish Invasion had been planned by the team from Liquor to Lips, where a range of spirits from the homeland could be sampled - whisky, gin, and even vodka!  Matthew and I happily set off to the lovely Mussel Men in Dalston for a ninety-minute whistle-stop tour of some of Scotland's best concoctions.

We sampled a lovely cocktail, the Quin Quine, in the bar ahead of the tasting.

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Monday Funday, October 12th

A little later in the day than usual (have been out in the wilds of Northumberland without wifi) now fortnightly, it's time for Monday Funday!  This fortnightly collection is comprised of the things which have been distracting, delighting, or diverting me online.  Videos, articles, gifs, blogs, name it, I'll list it here.  If you'd like to link up, please add your link below for a little Monday laughter, learning, or fun.  Next link up will be on Monday 26th.

* Therealtacocat's instagram is awesome (or should that be paw-some?)....such a beautiful creature!

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Pinterest: Halloween

The days are growing shorter and the skies are becoming greyer and heavy with rain.  October is well and truly upon us!  Over on Pinterest I've been pinning lots of Halloween foods, cocktails, costumes & crafts, and I thought I'd share a few of my favourite finds here.

All images belong to the sites mentioned unless otherwise credited and are shared here with permission.

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Golfing (for beginners)

I like to think that all humans are filled with little undiscovered pockets of hidden talent.  I didn't know how much I liked to dance until I did musical theatre at uni.  I wasn't aware of my hilarious capabilities at hiphop karaoke until a fateful day at Bloomsbury Bowl.  And I constantly forget quite how much I know about bad, bad, cheesey movies until a question comes up in a pub quiz and I'm the only person / loser / genius (delete as applicable) who knows the answer...

With that in mind, I love to try out new skills.  I'll take a class, try a new skill, work on a project and generally get stuck in to most challenges.  You never know what thing you might try and actually have an affinity for!

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I Love Your Blog: Adventures of a London Kiwi

Yay!  It's time for another installment of 'I Love Your Blog'.  Having the chance to introduce some of my favourite bloggers to you all is a real treat, and today's star is a big favourite of mine.  I've been reading Emma's fab blog 'Adventures of a London Kiwi' for a good long while now - I love her take on the city, her fun travel posts and her wonderful, warm sense of humour.  I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed for this series, and kindly allowed me to take a few shots from her blog to share with you all too.

1.      How long have you been blogging?

Having started off as just a dedicated blog reader, I've now been blogging for near on 4 years. The trouble is blogging is only getting more addictive the longer I do it -  it simply keeps inspiring us to travel more, see more and experience more. 

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Sounds of Sennheiser

Pretty, pretty headphones

A couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited to an event by Sennheiser and Currys PC World in deepest, darkest. decadent Mayfair. To showcase the latest Sennheiser range and the technology behind it, the team from Joe Blogs invited a host of bloggers to an event at Noir, a very trendy spot just a stone's throw from Selfridges to try out the products (beautiful headphones as far as the eye could see...), learn a little about the vinyl resurgence, and even try our hands at deejaying!

I've been aware of Sennheiser for a good long while, and have used their earphones for the past six years - Matthew is a huge fan of them and the sound quality they offer, so within a year of knowing him and hearing him evangelise about the noise-cancelling properties (so good in a busy, noisy city like London); their lack of sound-bleed (that's a Claire-ism, I think.  I'm not sure that's an actual word...?  Answers on a postcard, please), meaning I could enjoy my Taylor Swift / Biffy Clyro / Glenn Medeiros on the tube without disturbing the other commuters; the warm, full sound quality; and the incredible hardwearing nature of the products (always good when you can be a little hard on your headphones.  I know I am - in and out of bags, pockets, etc.) he soon had me joining the team!

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London's Hidden Foodie Gems

Over the summer I was asked to contribute to an infographic on London's hidden foodie gems that Millennium were putting together, You can see the infographic here or more clearly over on the main Millennium site. I've spotted a fair few favourites mentioned by other bloggers and plenty of other places I'll be hoping to try soon!

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Bake with Debs: Super Baking Event with Debenhams

Last week I was very kindly invited by Debenhams and Kenwood to attend a baking event with a difference.  As well as trying out some of the lovely new Kenwood gadgets (such pretty colours - more on that later!) we'd be concentrating on a few skills - making cookies, flavouring and colouring frostings, delving into the world of chocolate tempering and more!  I love to bake and cook and especially love picking up new skills so I was very pleased to be able to attend.

The event was held at Jenius Social, a great little venue just around the corner from Holloway Road tube.  It's a great space, with lots of dining space as well as a good sized kitchen.  I arrived (fresh from a visit to the zoo - it was one of those very busy, fun London days!) and was greeted with a glass of prosseco, a beautiful Ashley Thomas apron to don for the evening (and take home, too!) and plates piled high with antipasti.

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My Adventures at Red Magazine's Smart Women Week 2015, by Claire aged 34 and three-quarters (oh, and a giveaway too!)

Last week, from September 21st - 25th, you might have noticed lots of women going to and from a beautiful townhouse in Fitzrovia, if you happened to be in that part of town.  That townhouse was the venue for the many events of this year's Smart Women Week, a series organised, curated and run by the multitalented team at Red.

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Most read posts in September

It's always fun to see which posts do well in a given month - I also think these roundups are pretty useful if you don't have much time to read a particular blog (heaven knows there are lots of them out there!) and want to catch the highlights!

Here are this week's top ten (and a bonus item at the bottom.  Ooooooooooooh).

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