Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year 2017!
Motto for the year- Just Do It.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Addio Per Sempre 2016!!

This year brought quite a lot of trials but we triumphed!!
It also brought its share of joy, happiness and love that we cherished.
We bid you adieu and eagerly usher in the New Year with high hopes and expectations.
It couldn't have ended on a better note, getting to share my time with my loved ones.
Addio Per Sempre 2016!!
2017 Benvenuto!!
Toodles!XooX

Best Birthday Ever!!

This is 27 and i'm kinda loving it already!!😍 but 1st let's quickly recap my 26th.
26th Birthday
I ended up not writing a post about my 26th birthday in 2015 due to procrastination 🙈but i still enjoyed it as i've always enjoyed most of my other birthdays.I have learnt to be grateful for the gift of life regardless of my circumstance. I went to work as has been the norm for the past few years (The office typically closes for the year on my birthday usually a half-day for staff) and later on chilled with my friends. 
Happy work is over 
I got Cakes (you all know i love getting cakes on my birthday by now, even le hubby has come to terms with this). 
 
I got my 1st ever Designer Shoe (Gucci) thanks to Le Boo and my darling friend Yoee who travelled to Italy conspiring😍 I love shoes but i'm too frugal to justify spending big bucks on Designer brands for now.
Hubby also got me Nike Trainers in my fave colours
 

I also got a lovely perfume and body shop gift set from Yoee when she got back after my birthday.
My BFF got me a spa treat at Beyond Indulgence Spa, Body Products and Cards. She knows me too well. I'm all about being pampered and skincare and i looveee cards.
 
I got a lotta other stuff from hubby and friends that i've either used or can't get my hands on at the moment-Card from my baby bro, Jewelry set from my friend, Tech stuff from hubby and matching facecaps, money from a colleague, etc. (Cons of procrastinating a year + before posting). I also felt the love from my peeps outta reach via calls, sms, chats and social media posts; always a delight.
My birthday highlight was getting to spend quality time, chill, karaoke (thanks to SingStar on the PS4) and eat with my bff, family and friends and also make sweet memories; plus my shoeeeessss (best surprise gift).😂
Foodie Highlight😁
27TH BIRTHDAY
I had my best birthday yet this year, y'all know i like to write posts about my birthdays, i just love it.
Why was this birthday more special than the others you ask? Well lemme tell ya, lol. 
I woke up feeling good and with this inexplicable inner peace even though i had a busy and full workday (The office closed for the year on the 23rd as usual).
1st-I went all out for hubby's birthday which was just a few weeks before mine so he 'tried' to match up for my birthday and got me most of the things i wanted (Cake, Cards, Perfume, Lunch Buffet & a Spa gift card). His handwritten love letter (i loooveee handwritten letters, i think they are the bestest sweetest things ever!) was my fave gift of all especially 'cos he read it out to me at the end of the night. It felt awesome to be the center of attention.😄

2nd-my people were around, bff, close friends and my cousin who i haven't seen in years. I also got calls,messages,chats,social media posts and sooo much love from my people from all over the world. The love was almost overwhelming but i enjoyed and appreciated every bit of it. It feels good to be celebrated and once a year works fine for me.

3rd--my boss and colleagues threw me a surprise birthday party and i had a lot of fun with hubby and my friends plus i got a Salary Bonus at work😁 

4th-i got many unexpected gifts, cakes and cards from outta town/country friends

5th- i had a splendid overdue post-birthday holiday. I got to chill with my cousins and friends in Abuja on Christmas eve, then chilled with my lil bro, hubby and friends on Christmas day then rested on Boxing day. I flew out to Lagos and visited ma lag peeps i hadn't seen in a while, some fam, some friends and i met their lil kiddos. 

The Year ended on the best note possible for me after being such a roller coaster ride.
I got to celebrate my close friend's union and chilled with more friends and classmates i hadn't seen in a while before flying back to Abuja to be with Le Boo and enter the New Year together.

I'm sooo grateful for all of my blessings and though the year tried to bring us down, we prevailed. 2017 will be a better year by God's grace and 27 years.
Toodles!XooX

Something Peridot Bridesmaid Dress Review

I have featured in my fair share of bridal trains in my lifetime, at least i can recall about 18 off the top of my head, so you can say i'm well versed with the bridesmaid world and the drama that typically comes with it. This was the major reason i opted for having no bridal train for my wedding, i had enough on my plate to deal with while planning my wedding without the extra stress. 
I had happily bowed out of being a bridesmaid for the rest of my life, after my friend ND's wedding in Feb, 2014. ND bought our bridesmaid dresses while abroad and it cost N15,000. It was a gorgeous dress and thankfully i have been able to rock it on several occasions after the wedding, unlike your typical Bridesmaid dress that is banished to the back of your wardrobe, taking up space and never to be worn again.
You can therefore imagine my dilemma when my close friend called me to be on her train, she explained that one of her bridesmaids had to opt out because she was preggers and she'd love to have her friends around her on the train, how could i say no to her?! I agreed and asked how much the dresses were, she said N40,000, i gasped and immediately wished i could backtrack or opt out but it was too late. The amount is the highest i have ever heard for a bridesmaid dress in my life, i'm told it's even an affordable price for your typical Lagos dressmaker/designer. I honestly did not have that kind of money to spare at the time and told her, she told me she was just informing me and payment wasn't going to be made straightaway, all i needed to do was send in my measurement.
I asked for the name of the person making the dresses and she said 'Something Peridot' (Peridot Official on IG). I looked them up immediately on IG searching for a justification for the cost of the dress (fabric, unique styles, etc.) and couldn't find any. There was nothing extraordinary about the pictures, the dresses in them looked well finished and fitted but the styles were not out of this world. I figured i'd been out of the bridesmaid game too long and did not know how things were done anymore. I eventually sent my measurements sometime in September according to the measurement sheet provided and i sent my payment early November as requested. Once all that was done, nothing about the dress came up, i did not get to see the style, sketch,etc. and just trusted that the bride-to-be had chosen a style she wanted us to wear and everything was going according to plan. We discussed Hair styles, Shoes, Jewelry and Makeup which is the norm for bridesmaids.
December arrives and i have added some inches since sending my measurements in September. Most of the other bridesmaids on the bridal train with me were from out of Lagos/Nigeria but made it down for a fitting. I was unfortunately unable to make the fitting 'cos I was stuck in the airport for 7+hours on the day everyone went for the fitting (Tuesday, Dec. 27th). I quickly informed the group that i had to get fitted and asked if alternative arrangements could be made 'cos i had added weight and the dress might not be my size if it was a fitted dress (remember i did not have a clue the style of the dress). 
The store-owner informed them that they would be closing for the year by 1:00pm that day and all her workers would be in Ogun State afterwards. I found that surprising 'cos she was well aware of the date of the wedding (Dec 29th) and knew most of us were from out of town and will require some form of fitting, it was also not a public holiday or a weekend. It definitely will not have been asking too much to have someone available a day to the wedding or on the morning of the wedding to address any issues that may arise. If this couldn't be done, the bride should have been informed way ahead of time so we could all find our way to Lagos earlier to be fitted or find an alternative. 
I also did not have getting fitted in mind when i booked my flight, i actually thought the fitting would be done a day before the wedding (Wednesday, Dec 28th). I had planned to fly into Lagos, visit some friends and just chill before entering bridesmaid mode before i got the message while at the airport that they were having a half day and would close for the year afterwards. 
It made no sense to me for the amount that was paid, even my local tailor who charges me wayyyy less  (I'm talking as low as N5,000 sometimes, depending on what he's sewing for me) makes sure my outfit is well fitted on me regardless of schedules because his name/business is at stake. He knows how important it is that his client looks good in his outfit 'cos that is how he gets referrals.
I finally got to see and try on the dress on the night of Dec 28th when we were all at the hotel and though i had been told the dress wasn't exactly a beauty to behold, i honestly did not expect it to be that bad, especially the Zip. *SIGH*
It was a simple monostrap dress that we should all have been able to rock at the wedding and even afterwards.
Everyone tried their best to censor their comments on the dress so as not to hurt the bride's feelings or make her feel some type of way. My dress was understandably tight as i couldn't get fitted but i did not understand why all the other bridesmaids who had made it to the fitting still had issues, some even had new issues they did not have prior to the fitting. It's either proper notes of the adjustments needed were not taken or her tailors just did as they pleased without supervision.
The bride mentioned that the style of the dress was not even what they agreed on, the dress was not supposed to be as fitted as it was, but since i never saw the sketch i won't dwell on that. 
I was told the owner of the store had an attitude and wasn't open to suggestions to help solve the issues with some of the dresses as follows:
1. A bridesmaid suggested that my dress be made a bit looser than the measurement i sent in 'cos it'd be easier to take the dress in to fit me than if i couldn't get into the dress at all. I think that was a very good suggestion as i could have found a tailor for that easily. I heard the store owner shutdown the suggestion and said i had to be there to be fitted even though they had explained to her that i was stuck at the airport and could not make it due to flight delays.
2. A bridesmaid had the issue of the dress lining being too tight and she was told to rip the lining open to fit into it O.O I don't know about you but i'd expect more care for a dress that cost N40,000.
I believe sizing, length and fit of the dress are contingencies that should be planned for especially when the bridesmaids you are catering to are not in your city/country and have to send in their measurement. It is always safer to add extra inches to the size and length of the dress, so when the person is physically present you can fit it to their perfect size. Afterall it is easier to take in and shorten a dress than to open it up and elongate. 
3. When she was told my dress wasn't my size and asked if anything could be done-maybe recommend a tailor we could go to or something like that-she said the best she could do was come on the morning of the wedding to help zip me into the dress (she mentioned her child was ill so the conversation was cut short with no solutions offered to the problems mentioned).
I should add that a friend who had worn a 'Something Peridot' dress on another bridal train had nothing good to say about her experience either. She told us that the store-owner had an attitude to her clients and after performing her bridesmaid duties she ended up leaving her bridesmaid dress on the hotel room bed (that's how much she disliked the dress). She said if she had known much earlier she would have advised us to use a different Brand.
My major issues with the dress and service from Something Peridot:
1. The store-owner was not the nicest nor willing to go out of her way to provide support and wasn't open to suggestions either as mentioned above. I don't understand why. All the bridesmaids (the clients) are hardworking grown women who paid for their dresses with their hard-earned money and have come together in the best interest of the bride. The money is income for the business so what would it hurt to give good customer service?
2. Some Adjustments to be made after the fitting session with the other bridesmaids were not done: 
a. Two Bridesmaids had their boobs 'spilling out' the side of the monostrap dress and had to keep adjusting it at intervals. It was so bad that a church attendant mentioned it and said they should cover up properly with their scarves. We ended up using a pin to make one of them fit better after the church ceremony.
'Spilling Boob' situation 
b. The Chief Bridesmaid had 'extra hips' on her dress before the fitting and it was never fixed. She mentioned this over the phone to the store-owner and was told to iron off the hips, that obviously did not work.
c. A bridesmaid did not have any hook added to the top of her zip to help secure the dress properly even after this was brought up during the fitting
d. Another bridesmaid ended up with her dress too tight after the fitting
3. The finishing of the dress was tacky, moreso for the amount it cost: 
a. The 'Exposed Zip' was an absolute eyesore (She said the bride approved of it but i'm sure it was  probably based on the store-owner's advice), that was the 1st thing that caught my eye as out of place when i saw the dress. It was obvious no thought was put in the color of the zip against the dress and it looked nothing like the images of exposed zips i saw when i googled the term. Several people asked about it as well, as kindly as they could. My local tailor laughed out loud when i showed him the picture and asked for his opinion.
b. The thread  used in the sewing of the dress was visibly different and peeking in some areas (maybe its just my OCD)
c. The hemming of the dress was not done in the slit part of the dress and the one at the bottom of the dress came apart for most of us after church ceremony. The slit of the dress also started ripping upwards.

4. The dresses were not ironed as they should have been with a steam iron 'cos of the type of fabric used for making the dress and when the Chief Bridesmaid brought it up the store-owner made it seem like a non-issue, afterall its just ironing ba. Nobody was ready to risk burning the dress by ironing it themselves and we had to wear them like that, thankfully it wasn't too noticeable in person and pics.
5. When it was time to pick up the dresses, i was told the store-owner kept repeating that she wasn't going to release the dresses until her balance was paid and she did not say this in a 'give me a second let me finalize with the bride on how to get my balance, then i can release the dresses' type of way. It's not a crime to ask for your balance when you have completed your work but she could have easily picked up the phone, asked the bride about it and sorted it out without making the bridesmaid that went to get the dresses feel uncomfortable.
Only one bridesmaid seemed to have no known issues with her dress after the fitting.
Let the quality of your business/brand speak for itself.
If the dresses were nice and looked great on all the other bridesmaids that were fitted, i would have looked for an alternative way to fit into the dress but I honestly could not wait to get out of the dress, which i eventually did after dancing into the reception venue with the bride.
Another bridesmaid also changed out of her dress because the slit had ripped open, she was fitted and hadn't had the dress on for up to 4 hours (she did not get to dance into the reception with the rest of us).
At least 4 of us on the bridal train are potential clients lost, talkless of us not being able to recommend or refer the brand to anyone due to the service we got.
No matter how Insta-famous or connected you are you need to have good customer service, strive to always make a good 1st impression. 
I did call the store-owner of 'Something Peridot' and let her know how we felt about the dresses and overall experience with her service. She apologized and immediately said she was sending a refund, i should send my account details and drop off my dress at their store. 
I had not called with the intent of getting a refund or anything like that, the whole experience just did not sit right with me and i made it clear to her it was not even about the money paid anymore. She however insisted on sending a refund and she sent me the full refund for the 6 dresses N240,000. 
I contacted the bride and told her about our conversation and the refund, the bride asked why she sent the refund since we had already used the dresses and the ceremony was over and i let her know i did not ask for it or expect it, i had called strictly to give feedback and to let her know i would be reviewing our experience with her.
The bride said she would speak with her and that i should transfer N200,000 (without my N40,000 payment) to her and drop my dress for it to be returned to Something Peridot, which i did. 
The Bride eventually sent back the N200,000 to Something Peridot and that's that about that.
Don't get caught up in the hype.
We will look nice in the pictures (if you use your Instagram Zoom feature, you will see some of the flaws, despite the filters used), 'cos we all posed at angles that were flattering and did our best to hide the flaws of the dress (i doubt you'll find any professional pics showing the back of the dress) plus the photographer was good at his job. 
However the experience we had with the dresses and having to manage them to make our friend happy will stick with us for a long time and honestly bridesmaids shouldn't have to be put in such a position after committing their time,money and energy to being a part of their friend's special day. 
We are lucky to be living in a time where we can capitalise on social media and use it to promote businesses but no one can deny the power and impact of an outfit speaking for itself (people complimenting you, asking where it was made and for a contact because of how good it looks on you), referrals, recommendation, feedback and word-of-mouth which was how most businesses made their name back in the day. 
Feedback/Positive Criticism is crucial to the growth of any business/brand.
This review is to help other brides-to-be & bridesmaids make a somewhat informed decision when selecting a dressmaker/designer instead of falling for the pretty Instagram pictures and ending up let down. 
I believe as Nigerians we need to do better with reviews, if you had a bad or good experience with a product or service (salon, dressmaker/designer, makeup artist, etc.) write or talk about it (give feedback), it will help other customers know what to expect and make informed choices and ultimately the business owners will have to improve their standard. 
We settle too much and this is why we are handed the mediocre for over-the-top prices. Any Brand that wants your hard-earned money should be able to meet up with the expected quality & service delivery. 
Buying Nigerian shouldn't mean compromising on quality. 
We could have easily gotten a great ready made dress and had it fitted to our individual sizes for way less than £100 which is the approximate equivalent of what the dress cost.
I don't know if our experience was a one-off (maybe too many orders, December holidays, workers acting up, etc.) and if the store-owner usually puts out better dresses & service than what we got but all it takes is one time to make a bad impression and your brand/business pays for it.
I am officially done with being a bridesmaid in this lifetime and sadly i would not recommend the 'Something Peridot' brand.
I'm glad and relieved to put this entire episode behind me, thankfully i still had fun at the wedding after changing into another dress. The experience was unnecessarily draining and i felt bad the bride was dragged into the discussion  after the wedding on our feelings about the dresses 'cos of my call to the store-owner and the refund made.
Check out this YouTube Video on Nigerian Tailors.
I hope there is a resolve to do better in 2017.
Toodles!XooX

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Beginners' Guide to Solo Christmas Cooking

This post was inspired by Ummi's post on Naman Sallah for Beginners. Do check it out.
Christmas cooking and sharing food to neighbours is one of the things i looked forward to and dreaded at the same time about having my own family. It was a tradition in my parent's house and i couldn't wait to make it my family tradition as well but i dreaded doing it all on my own as it can easily get cumbersome, overwhelming and stressful to execute all alone (i don't have a maid); especially if you don't intend spending your entire Christmas eve and Christmas day cooking.
My 1st Solo Christmas Cooking (Dec 2014)
I have already commenced preparations in full force for my Christmas Cooking therefore i thought it best to put up this post as someone may find it useful. I wouldn't say i do the cooking completely solo 'cos hubby has really started helping out with cooking especially dicing & slicing all veggies and i'm loving it!
Christmas (Dec 25th) is on a Sunday this year so if you haven't done your shopping for your key ingredients, you are carrying last. The only thing you should be buying a day to or on Christmas day in my opinion is veggies for your salad (Cabbage, Lettuce & Carrots)so they are fresh.
The reason for my statement above is mostly hiked market prices, the traders know the meals most people cook during the Christmas and Festive period and increase the prices for the ingredients in order to make maximum profit (can't really blame them). Also some things get sold out and the traders don't bother to restock.
I kinda carried last too 'cos i was too busy to go to the market and i don't have a maid to do that; i finally did my shopping on Friday, Dec 16th and the prices hurt my pocket quite a bit.
The major key to a successful and stress-free Christmas Cooking is early preparation.
1. First thing is to create your Christmas Menu and the days it'll be convenient for you to get them prepared with minimal stress, mine is as follows:
I don't like to cook on Dec 23rd 'cos its my birthday and all i really want is a proper lazy day after work (my office typically closes for the year on this day).
2. Find recipes for all the meals on your menu (Check the links for mine above), review them thoroughly and draw up your market shopping list. Last time i went to the market (Utako) the prices for popular items were as follows (after bargaining on some):
  • Orobo Chicken -N1,200 per Kilo
  • Soft Chicken -N1,200 per Kilo
  • Turkey -N1,300 per Kilo
  • Turkey Gizzard -N1,600 per Pack (it used to be N1,200)
  • Tomatoes- N700 per Regular Basket 
  • Tatashe a.k.a Romano Pepper- N800 per Regular Basket 
  • Rodo a.k.a Scotch Bonnet Pepper -N100 per Medium Bowl
  • Onions- N200 per Medium Bowl
  • White Yam- N600 per Medium size
  • Plantain -N1,200 for a huge bunch (I bought an unripe bunch so they are ripe by the time i'm ready to use them)
  • Palm oil -N800 for a Small bottle (it used to be N600 for a big EVA bottle)
  • Sweet potatoes -N500 per Regular Basket
  • Crayfish- N1000 for half Mudu (it used to be N600)
  • Smoked Fish- N400 per Medium Size (Depending on your bargaining skills)
  • Plain Flour- N300 per Mudu
  • White Sugar- N700 per Mudu (it used to be N300)
3. Draw up your budget and go shopping
4. Sort out your food items, do the necessary preparations and store them in your fridge or freezer
  • Blend and Boil your peppers
  • Marinate and Boil your Meats, Gizzards, etc.
  • Clean and dice/slice your veggies (You can get hubby to help out)
  • Dice your boiled Gizzard (sure most hubbies would volunteer to do this.lol)
  • Make your spring rolls & samosas 
5. Make your Christmas meals according to your menu and designated dates. Check out my post on Tips for Easier/Faster Cooking.
  • I boil the rice for my fried rice on Christmas Eve (i prefer using day old rice for my fried rice)
  • Wake up early enough to prepare the meals you have designated for Christmas Day, defrost the necessary ingredients before you are ready to cook to avoid unnecessary wait
  • I make my Fried Rice on Christmas Day (Morning) with my already cut veggies  (I'm not a fan of store bought frozen veggies)
  • I make my Peppered Chicken/Turkey on Christmas Day (Morning) with my already blended  & boiled peppers and well marinated boiled chicken/turkey (and i get tasty stew after taking them out)
  • I fry my plantain on Christmas Day (Morning)
  • I make my special salad dressing & add it to my pre-made & chilled salad (You can also make your salad on Christmas morning for freshness)
  • I defrost my pre-made Gizdodo, add more sauce and heat it up
  • I fry my already prepped Spring Rolls & Samosas on Christmas Day (Afternoon)
  • I make my puff-puff on Christmas Day (Evening)
I'm usually done with the major Christmas Day Cooking in 1-2 hours (that's around 9-10am). The thing with cooking Nigerian meals is that it's usually the prepping of the ingredients (blending, dicing, slicing, marinating, etc.) that take the longest time.
I make more than enough so i can have lots of leftovers for us to heat up as needed and enjoy.
6. Share the love and Food with your neighbours, security guard, gardener-everybody! I prepare a tray with a warmer of the different meals and some drinks and give them. 
For my Neighbours
7. Relax, eat and enjoy your dishes with your partner or family and friends.
If i can pull it off, trust me you can as well. 
Remember Jesus Christ is the Reason for the Season. 
Spread the Love through Sharing whatever you have.
Toodles!XooX