I have a few dresses like this one which I have to wear with a little top underneath, and every time I wear them I wonder who they are made for. I mean, sometimes you want to wear a super low-cut number and wow the world with your amazeballs cleavage, but also sometimes you have to go to work and amazeballs cleavage is generally frowned upon in the office. This? This is the face of experience.
Despite the inappropriate neckline, this is a great dress. Polkadots, swishy skirt, looks good with a red cardi - I'm sold.
This week I'm focusing on the fact that in a week and a few days, it's Easter and we totally get a four day weekend! By focusing on this now, it means that next week I will STILL be cheerful about it. And then the week after, it will be the four day weekend! ALL THE JOY. And also chocolate.
Here are my reasons to be cheerful...
1. Lee Pace. If you don't know who he is, I implore you to watch Pushing Daisies. You will fall in love with him. He's also in Twilight and the Hobbit, but he's best in Pushing Daisies. Such great eyebrows.
I've talked a lot about trying to save money for buying a house, and part of that means less shopping. But actually, I've just been budgeting more and it means that usually, once a month, I can get away with the odd cheeky purchase still... within reason. I posted a few weeks ago about a new dress that I'd completely fallen for, but when I went back to the shop, I found my pretty blue dress in an even prettier green. DILEMMA. I mean, having them both surely wasn't an option... right?
I do love this dress, though. It's Mela Loves London, which is a concession I usually find in New Look, but I also spotted it in TK Maxx for a bit cheaper. It's well made, well fitted, and super flattering. And if a red version comes out, I cannot be responsible for my actions.
PS. Here's a bonus Lola photobomb for your trouble:
Happy Mother's Day! I spent mine with two of the most important ladies in my life, my Mum and hers - my Granny. They both mean an awful lot to me, but I wanted to talk about my Granny, because I don't talk about her much on her. Granny is 97, and she's pretty amazing. She lives alone, looks after herself (and everyone else) and polishes off 3 bottles of wine a week. We have fantastic conversations about literature and travelling - I mean, she's nearly 100. She's lived a fascinating life, and what's more, she still remembers all of it.
I love talking about people's grandparents - these people mean so much to us, and their generation has seen so much - just think how much the world has changed in the last hundred years!
In celebration of fantastic Grannies, 888 Ladies Bingo are running the Granny Awards! There are lots of different categories, and if your Granny wins she could get an iPad Mini, Pandora jewellery or £100 of shopping vouchers. There's more info on the 888ladies Granny Award here, and on their FB page. Also, have you ever considered how much your Granny is like a cat...?
Welcome to the March edition of Books are Amazing! This month's guest poster is the lovely Franky from Love Audrey with a children's books special. There are two of my absolute favourites here, so I thoroughly approve. Take it away, Franky!
The first module I took for my English MA a few years ago was called ‘Transatlantic Childhoods: Literature and the Child Study Movement 1880-1920′. Apparently, the class examined ‘tensions in attitudes to, and representations of, children in the nineteenth-century, when emergent sciences, especially evolutionary theory and psychology, raised significant theoretical challenges to previously cherished “Romantic” assumptions about children’s innocence, malleability, and intuitive, spiritual creativity’. Thrilling stuff.
While much of the theory was lost on me, what I did take away from the class was a new found love for the simple pleasure that is reading children’s literature as an adult. Since then, returning to books that permeated my childhood has given me no end of pleasure. Not only do I find myself drawn in by the story and its characters, I also lose myself in memories from my past, relishing the nostalgia I feel for the time I originally read the novel. Looking at things afresh, through the lens of adulthood, and contemplating how much of the person I am today is down to the books I read way back when, is fascinating.
My contribution to Sarah’s ‘Books Are Amazing’ series is a handful of suggestions for those of you that might want me to join me on this literary trip down memory lane...
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The classic tale of little Mary Lennox and her secret garden at Misselthwaite Manor has been my favourite children’s book to return to as an adult. The story of Mary, a disagreeable orphan who is sent from India to live with her estranged uncle in the Yorkshire dales, is magical, dark, mysterious and whimsical in equal measure. Burnett captures what it is to be an awkward child perfectly, while still imbuing Mary with enough feistiness to turn the whole household upside down. The description of the garden as a wilderness, hidden behind a locked door for many years, and its subsequent transformation at the hands of the children makes for compelling reading.
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wealthy Sarah Crewe is trying to make friends and settle into her new boarding school when she suddenly learns she’ll never see her beloved father again. Plunged into a world of poverty and endless drudgery, she soon learns that kindness and generosity are the only riches she needs. It is Sarah’s imagination, illustrated so beautifully by the author’s description of her story telling and day dreaming, that I love most. The notion that our dreams can elevate us from a difficult situation and that we can be whoever we chose to be remains a powerful message, even in adulthood.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I re-read this book in one sitting. The intoxicating tale of a treasure map, a perilous sea journey, a mutiny lead by Long John Silver and a dangerous scramble for buried treasure, all seen through the eyes of young Jim Hawkins, is filled with action, intrigue and adventure. Stevenson may have written it with a young audience in mind, but I was on the edge of my seat all the same. If Jack Sparrow is the only pirate you’ve had dealings with recently, I’d really recommend giving this a whirl.
Little Women by Louise May Alcott
I vividly remember reading this for the first time, and I’m pleased to say my love for the March family endures. Again I wept when Beth fell ill and I still love Laurie. Once more I was overcome with a desire to disappear into the domestic world created by Alcott within the pages of her book. I still want to step inside that cosy cottage and live Jo’s life, poverty and all. I was struck by the book’s celebration of the simple things, as well as the fact that Jo and her sisters are rich despite their lack of wealth or material possessions. There was a little more religion than I remembered, but it’s a beautiful read that I found no less inspiring the second time around.
This year I’m planning to re-visit The Little House books by Laura Ingles Wilder which I adored as a child. I read most of them by torchlight, long after my Mum had told me to go to sleep! Now you’ll simply find my Kindle glowing among the bed covers while my husband dozes next to me.
I always think when you do an outfit post featuring something that you wear all the time, it feels a little like you should apologise for it. Of course, being all ‘This old thing? I wear it all the time!’ seems a little fake but honestly, I do wear this old thing all the time. It’s actually been one of my favourite work outfits recently, although photographing it has made me realise that it is way shorter than I thought it was… so maybe I should keep it out of the office in future.
I wore this exact outfit a few weeks ago to the Voucher Codes Swap Shop party, which was similar to last year’s event (there are some pics here). I picked up some great bits in the swap, although sadly none of them fit me. WOE FACE. It was a great night though – there’s quite a rush in coming home with bulging shopping bags having not spent a penny!
The lovely ladies at Witch Skincare have given me some products to give away to you all today, hooray! It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Witch products - ever since I became part of the Flawless Friends, I've been using their products religiously and have really seen a big difference in my skin. I love their exfoliating face wash so much - I refuse to use anything else now!
Here's what you'd get...
Blemish Stick, Blemish Gel, Foaming Facial Wash, Exfoliating Face Wash, Stick Concealer, Skin Clearing Primer and Cleansing & Toning Wipes.
I might have a million dresses just like this one, but there’s not much that can go wrong with a red flowery dress, is there? I’m always stubbornly against the rule that redheads can’t wear red – if anything, I’ve worn it more since I became a redhead, and even have a little red car arriving next week so I guess I’ll clash even more of the time. Clashing is in fashion though, right?
Dress – Primark
Shoes - Clarks c/o Spartoo
This weekend I’m off for lunch with a lovely group of much-missed bloggers to celebrate Fiona visiting from Copenhagen, and I’m also getting a haircut. Which sounds very boring, and it kind of is, but my hair is in that awful state where it hasn’t been cut since October and so I’m actually super excited about being able to go out on a walk without looking like birds could roost on my head. I’m pretty sure they have before.
Let me tell you something about me; I just really, really like mushrooms. They're the most amazing of vegetables, and if you add garlic and butter and cheese to the mix and serve it up for me, then I will probably just marry you right here. So many awkward conversations in restaurants, you have no idea.
I've made sauteed mushrooms a few times (such as in this Mushroom Lasagne and in this Cheeseburger Casserole) and I love them like I love disco, but sometimes I find that they get a bit drowned by the other ingredients in the recipe. So I wanted to make something which was all about their buttery, mushroomy goodness. I basically just made this up, although I bet I'm not the first person to put this all together. It's not groundbreaking, but it is so, so, SO good. Exactly what I wanted it to be - garlicky, mushroomy, buttery and creamy.
Garlic & Cream Mushroom Pasta
30g Lurpak Lighter
250g Light Mozzarella
6-8 x fresh garlic cloves
2 red onions
4 x punnets mushrooms (about 1000g)
200ml reduced fat creme fraiche
Salt & pepper, to taste
9 WW Points / 407 cals a portion
1. Boil some water and pop your pasta onto cook according to the package instructions.
2. Slice up all your mushrooms (which will take forever, sorry) and your red onions.
3. If you are not using pre-peeled garlic cloves (they are the best), peel those too so they are ready to chuck in as you're cooking.
4. Heat up your pan and add a little bit of your butter, one of your crushed cloves of garlic and a handful of your mushrooms and onions. You may need to add a splash of water to stop them sticking.
5. Stir the mushrooms around with a wooden spoon until they are soft and dark, and add a little salt. Then remove from the pan and add the next handful with a bit more butter and more garlic.
6. Continue frying the mushrooms and onions, handful by handful, along with a little butter at a time and a clove of garlic each time you throw them in, until everything is cooked.
7. Drain your mushroom and onion mixture (but save the juice) and re-add to your pan.
8. Drain your pasta if you haven't already, pop back in the pan (heat off) and then add the liquid you drained from the mushrooms. You don't have to do this, my hope was that it would absorb into the pasta!
9. Add your spinach and cook with the lid on, stirring frequently, until it is all wilted.
10. Pour in the creme fraiche, and then chop up your mozzarella and stir that through. I didn't let it melt entirely so there were still chunks left. Yum.
11. Drain the pasta again (again preserving the liquid) and add the pasta to the mixture. Then add as much of the fluid as you want until the sauce is how you like it (mine was slightly too runny because I added it all, but it was still yummy)
12. Serve with a sprinkling of black pepper and prepare not to snog anyone for a while, because you are now in garlic central, my friend. But it's worth it.