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  • The Wong Shop

    5 reasons to start Pilates

    I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I’m giving you another workout suggestion when you’re struggling to make time for a sit up.

    There are more than five reasons to start Pilates. A reduction in stress, better sleep and improvement to your pelvic floor (wink) aren’t on this list, but they could be. If you practice yoga, you’ll love Pilates. Now I’m not an expert, but thanks to the lovely team at John Lewis, Pilates babe Lottie Murphy & Hayley from The Nutrition Coach, I’ve discovered some new health & fitness tips, and I’m going to share them with you.

    PS excuse my weird feet. No amount of photoshop can save them.



    Pilates is a mind-body workout, it emphasises on proper breathing techniques. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who do not breathe properly during workouts. I was encouraged to breathe through the nose and exhale via the mouth.

    Total Body Workout

    Pilates works the body in a practical way; the movements are designed to prepare you for the physical challenges of daily life. The sequences encourage the use of all muscles in the body.

    Core Stability & Postural Alignment

    Many of us suffer from poor posture. Pilates teaches you to maintain optimum alignment in the spine and core.

    Muscle Tone and Strength

    Pilates elongates and strengthens the body, developing muscle elasticity and joint mobility. Due to the nature of holding positions for extended periods of time, you’ll improve your stamina.

    Improved Body Awareness

    Pilates encourages you to be aware of your body. In practice, you’ll notice how far you can push yourself and which areas of the body that you should pay particular attention.


    As part of the John Lewis Wellbeing Campaign, we made delicious smoothies at the Oxo Tower (recipes below).

    There are more smoothie and juice ingredients that you can pop into your blender than you think. Let’s start with the basics. Add in your favourite: fruits, vegetables & herbs (I love orange, carrot, mint & spinach). Then combine with water or coconut water. If you’re making a berry-based smoothie, it’s a treat with milk (almond & soy are great vegan alternatives). If you have nuts/seeds and olive/flaxseed oil lying around, pop those in too. If you’ve got spices; add a pitch of those (turmeric is a good one as it’s anti-inflammatory). I’ve recently discovered Matcha, Spirulina and Cacao powder; oh boy they’re delicious in drinks.

    To cover all your juicing needs, here’s what I learnt from the event:

    • Don’t forget to fill your smoothie cup to the brim! It keeps it fresher for longer.
    • For best results, drink your juice straight away or within twenty-four hours. Methanol levels in stored fluid can develop a naughty formaldehyde, which is toxic in the body.
    • Post workout, the thirty-minute recovery window is when the body is at peak for juice uptake.

    As promised, here are the smoothie recipes that we made on the day:

    Get your game on green smoothie

    This glass of green goodness has lots of leafy greens, teamed with the benefits of electrolytes in the coconut water; this is perfect for an energy boost!

    Two handfuls baby spinach leaves
    300ml coconut water
    One ½ cups fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
    One tsp coconut oil
    One scoop whey protein powder
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    Manuka honey to taste
    One tsp maca powder (optional)
    One scoop spirulina powder (optional)

    Red ambulance recovery shake

    Packed full of antioxidants, this alkaline shake is a yummy way to muscle recovery. The turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits which help with body retrieval.

    1/3 can coconut milk
    100ml coconut water or plain water
    1 banana
    One scoop whey protein powder
    ½ cup frozen berries
    One handful cos or romaine lettuce leaves (not iceberg as this is the lowest in nutritional value)
    1-2 tsp Manuka Honey
    One tsp cinnamon
    One tsp turmeric

    I hope these health & fitness tips have helped you. If you’re a Pilates guru, did I miss anything?

    Location: Bedfordshire
    Photographer: The fabulous Simon Richardson 
    Calvin Klein Bralette | Calvin Klein Shorts | Nike Running Tights | Nars Concealer | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Clinique Waterproof Mascara |


    Top 5 Afternoon Teas in London

    If you’ve been following my Insta, you will of occasionally spotted a tower of treats, followed by my delight.

    Afternoon tea is a British institution; it’s the ultimate indulgence. A few people have asked for recommendations on where to take friends & family in the big smoke.

    If they enjoy the sandwich, tea & cake combo as much as I do, then here is my guide. Welcome to my top five Afternoon Teas in London.

    Sketch (quirky)

    Sketch is magical. The domed hall is passionately pastel pink with a confection of David Shrigley’s artwork on the walls. If you like tea with elegance & slightly eccentric decor, I’d recommend this place. Highlights: mini cheese toastie, cute ceramics with witty messages and the funky bathroom.

    Tea Rating: 8/10

    Sandwich Rating: 8/10

    Scone Rating: 8/10 (warm & fluffy; bonus points for homemade jam) Cake Rating: 8/10 (mini spiced apple tart was my fave)

    Recommendation: go with the girls.

    Sanderson (quirky)

    The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea Party at Sanderson is a childhood dream come true. There are lots of quirks; I think I said ‘ooh’ fifty times that day. The menu is inside an old book, the sugar is in a jewellery box, and the flowers are edible. The Courtyard Garden has a laid back and chilled vibe. Highlights: different flavours of bread, pocket watch macaron, drinkable dessert and passionfruit ice cream.

    Tea Rating: 8/10

    Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (sandwiches are great, but I wanted more because I like carbs)

    Scone Rating: 7/10

    Cake Rating: 8/10 (mini spiced apple tart was my fave)

    Recommendation: go in the summer to lounge in the courtyard. Go if you have the dietary requirement as they cater to those.

    Browns (classic)

    If you’re looking for a side-serving of grandeur and sophistication with your tea, then book a table at Browns. Classy and traditional, Queen Victoria used to have her tea here. I was impressed by the range of infusions. BTW: tea, sandwiches & cakes are unlimited. Step to it. Highlights: Coronation chicken sandwich (I asked for more of those bad boys), spiced pumpkin and ginger eclairs.

    Tea Rating: 9/10

    Sandwich Rating: 9/10 (bagels & sandwiches are served)

    Scone Rating: 8/10

    Cake Rating: 7/10

    Recommendation: take your parents to this one.

    The Goring (classic)

    If a Belgravia-based hotel were a person; it’d probably be a smart and a well-dressed gentleman that knows how to charm your pants off. Welcome to The Goring. Kate Middleton’s favourite hotel. It has a more boutique feel compared to the bigger hotels like The Ritz. It’s quintessentially British. Highlights: giant macaron and a blood-orange-mousse dome. You’re offered refills of tea without having to ask.

    Tea Rating: 9/10

    Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (you get bagels & sandwiches)

    Scone Rating: 8/10

    Cake Rating: 7/10

    Recommendation: Order the Bollinger Tea (Goring’s own special loose leaf tea blend).

    Mayfair Kitchen (bit of both)

    Set in the sophisticated yet unassuming Mayfair Hotel — it’s the most contemporary of the bunch, and surprisingly best value for money. If you’re not looking for traditional then this is your best bet, it’s afternoon tea with a Mediterranean twist. Highlights: bruschetta, Amaretto or Sicilian lemon scones with vanilla mascarpone. I’m currently craving the white peach and oregano pannacotta as I write this.

    Tea Rating: 7/10

    Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (you get bagels & sandwiches)

    Scone Rating: 7/10

    Cake Rating: 8/10 Recommendation: go with your mates for catch ups as it’s got a brunch-y vibe.

    The runners up are The Waldorf & The Dorchester. Overhyped: Aqua Shard (the view was breathtaking, but I didn’t like the food). Places I’m planning to go to next: Ritz, Claridges, Fortum & Mason, Savoy and The London Edition.

    I hope my post has helped you organise your next gathering filled with scones, clotted cream, finger sandwiches and cakes.  If it has, I’d love to hear from you: we can be friends on Twitter here, Instagram here and Facebook here.

    Bon Appétit!

    Location: London

    Topshop Cami | Nars Concealer | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Clinique Mascara |


    Happy Chinese New Year: six steps to achieving your goals

    Happy Chinese New Year (春节快乐). It’s the Year of the Rooster. Do you know what Roosters do? They wake up & get sh*t done. The aim of this post is to lead you to your dreams so that you can be the best version of yourself (and all that jazz).

    For the first time in my life, I’ve started this year as a freelancer, so I have no excuse for being unorganised. Anyway, this isn’t about me, let’s begin the journey to a goal getting you.

    In the Chinese Fire Rooster spirit, I’m going to split this up into three sections: health, happiness and prosperity.



    I don’t work-out to look like a Victoria Secret Model; I exercise because it drives my motivation, confidence, determination, willpower, organisation, and of course, my health. If you don’t know the benefits of regular exercise, you must be living under some (excuse the pun) large rock. Besides from naturally making you feel sexy (hi endorphins), exercise improves your mood, sleep, energy, *ahem* sex life, concentration and learning. I enjoy yoga, pilates and flexibility exercises. But everyone is different, find your sport that makes you thrive and set goals.


    Apparently, I’m a ‘human dustbin’. The fact is, most of us are, and we do not eat well. I’m an advocate of food education because most of us lack the time and knowledge, so we settle for quick and easy junk food. If you don’t know how to cook; start with the basics. Fry, scramble, boil or poach an egg. The ingredients for salads or wraps are endless: mix up some lettuce, avocado, peppers, beans, sweet corn, salsa, mushrooms, peppers and meat (or falafel if you’re vegetarian). It’s quick and easy to make homemade fresh pesto, soups and smoothies with a Nutribullet. If you need a kick up the bum, join cooking classes. The benefits of eating fresh are again: better energy, focus, mood (from sugar) and sleep. Being a great cook means that you develop a greater appreciation for good food and you save money by not eating out.



    Friends & Family

    Alright, this may sound like an obvious one. But listen up, it’s important. Many of us, overlook our relationships and we don’t give them the time and attention necessary to keep them healthy and happy. If you want a long and happy life, spend time with your loved ones. I can’t tell you how much better I feel with just half an hour with my friends. Don’t make distance an excuse; no one wants to hear it. As humans, we need physical contact. Try and be physically touched every day. And no, I’m not asking you to start touching people up because that’s creepy AF. It could be as little as shaking hands, hugging or sitting next to someone. Get in contact with those (not the drama llamas please) who you haven’t seen in a while. You might be surprised at how receptive they are to meeting you.

    Confidence & Honesty

    Plato said, “the man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily”. Having a good relationship with yourself and thus, the people in your life is the key to happiness. The two keys to happiness are confidence and honesty. I will write about my journey to confidence soon, but in short, many people don’t like themselves, and this hinders them from their potential to do amazing things. My advice (unless you’re in danger) would be not to give a flying f**k about what people think. You know your path more than anyone else. And always be honest. If you don’t, I promise you; it will bite you in the ass. And this is why. Lying breaks trust. Individuals who lie, carry a burden of guilt and unhappiness that they (unconsciously) bring into their future situations, which in turn causes karma towards themselves (and they always get found out eventually anyway).





    I believe that we all have a creative outlet within us. It’s a such a shame that 1) most of us are too busy to channel it and 2) most jobs are process-driven and not imaginative. By performing the same tasks every day, you’re blocking yourself from potentially prosperous opportunities. There’s no harm in making a habit of regularly performing an activity that you enjoy. Painting, knitting, making pottery, photography, singing, dancing, playing instruments — if you enjoy a venture, do it. Aside from organising your mind, uninhibited self-expression opens doors. You could meet like-minded friends who will contribute to your success in the future; you could win yourself an award or get to perform on stage. You get the gist.

    Reading & writing

    We’re so lucky to live in a country that has educated us to read to and write. I can’t express to you how fundamental these creative skills are. The written word is the basis for civilisation. Without the capacity to feel each other’s thoughts, we have no sense of identity. I know that I’m not the greatest writer that has ever lived; for god’s sake, I pose for a living. But as a skill, you need to be able to communicate with people at all levels, in a clear and coherent way. The mind is a muscle that we need to exercise. If you’re going through a tough time, write it down. Writing helps structure your thoughts so that you think clearly. Treat yourself to nice stationery and write down your ideas. I love all of my beautiful notebooks; Kikki K is my fave brand ATM. If you’re reading this and haven’t developed the urge to facepalm, you probably already enjoy reading. People who read regularly are smarter, well-informed and are better at generating ideas. It’s cliche, but knowledge is power. If you aren’t enjoying a book, stop reading it. And find material that you enjoy.

    To achieve your bigger goals, you need to form habits. These are your smaller daily goals. They are the basis of substantial achievements. It’s about being consistent.

    The benefits of exercise, food, reading & writing, confidence and honesty overlap of each other; they affect you in all domains: physically, emotionally and socially.

    I’ve been so excited to write and release this post. I would love if you could share it with your fellow fire roosters.

    Love Monica x



    Location: Richmond Park, London

    Photographer: Hattie Day at Wild Young Minds (FB here)

    Red Dress | Nars Foundation | Nars Concealer | Nars Multiple | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Loreal Eyeliner | Clinique Mascara | Guerlain La Petite Noire Lipstick |


    Black Friday 2016

    Brace yourselves, it’s Black Friday.

    Last year, I launched my first Black Friday post. This year, it’s an even bigger event that will extend into the weekend.

    Avoid the scrum, stick the kettle on and join me; we’re going to bag to best deals together.

    Amazon & eBay have already launched their Black Friday deals. Now is the time to buy Christmas presents. Warning, while browsing, you may end up buying your entire wish list of treats for yourself.

    If you’re in need of gadgets, Currys & PC World Black Tag event has some great TV & PC deals.

    I’ve recently bagged a bargain smart TV, and I can’t believe I’ve waited that long to have one, they’re amazing. Mine is Samsung; they will be selling fast from their midnight launch so have a look and compare prices.

    Don’t bother with wrestling your locals at Tesco; you can get it all online.

    Argos also couldn’t wait any longer and has already launched their Black Friday. The three things that I want are here, here and here.

    Turn your home into a sanctuary with John Lewis. They had the cheapest NutriBullet in the market one year; I’m dying to know what it will be this year. I need this and this in my kitchen.

    Christmas has indeed come early at Selfridges (receive 20% off your Christmas Shopping with code SELFCCE).

    ASOS: 20% off everything with code GOGOGO.

    Shop at River Island with the code: BFRIDAY16 for 20% off and Mango with code: Black

    Up to 50% off at the sale you’ve been waiting for at Topshop & Urban Outfitters, Nike, New Look and French Connection today.

    Replenish your beauty cabinet from Feel Unique (Code: MAKEITMAGIC), Boots & use code RUSH at Look Fantastic. Stock up at The Body Shop with up to 40% off. Code: 19805.




    It’s Thanksgiving at Bloomingdales and use code: thanks at Macy’s. Go crazy at Missguided and Boohoo.com.

    There’s up to 50% off at Mark’s & Sparks, Very.co.uk and at House of Fraser. It’s VAT-free on fragrances at Debenhams.

    There’s 20% off in the shoe world. Run over to Kurt Geiger, Shoeaholics (Code: BLACK20), Office (Code: WONDER) or Clarks (BMERRY16)

    If you feel like running away from all this Black Friday madness, there’s up to 25% off flights from British Airways.

    I’ll be posting and updating this page throughout the Cyber weekend.

    If you’ve got any deals to share, please comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

    Location: London

    Photographer: Hattie Day at Wild Young Minds (FB here)

    Make Up: Vanessa Mcmillan (Insta here) | Products used: BareMinerals Primer | Urban Decay Palette | Nars Multiple |  NARS EyeLiner | YSL Waterproof Mascara | NYX LipGloss