Friday, 30 December 2011

We decided just to write, after all.

If I could, I think I would match all the time. I'd have an enormous wardrobe with colour coded sections, and every day my dress and my shoes would go together perfectly. And everyone would say 'Colour clashing is in this year!' and 'You don't want to look too matchy-matchy!' and I would skip about in my pretty coordinated ensemble and I would not care a jot. NOT ONE JOT.

My Christmas Day outfit ticks all those boxes. Sure, the shoes are too pinchy and high to be comfortable, and sure, the dress is far too snug around the middle to truly withstand Christmas dinner. And I KNOW, I'm missing the matching hair-bow (in true homage to Ladybird's The Party) although I did remember - sadly rather too late to wear out - this bow belt in just the right shade. All those things might counteract the tickyboxes, but... LOOK HOW IT MATCHES.

Dress & Shoes - New Look
Jacket - H&M
Ring - Topshop
Watch - ASOS
Bracelet - Dorothy Perkins

And I'm newly be-gingered, thanks to Amy's aid in stalking a blogger at the Motel event and demanding to know her hair secrets (Loreal Feria in Mango - I LOVE IT). Roots begone!

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Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas was better in the 80s.

Merry Christmas everyone! I know I'm a day late. I am enjoying chilling out and eating my bodyweight in cheese and chocolate, but I'll be back soon with a bit of an update of how it's all gone! For now, let me tell you: Baileys cupcakes are very, very, very nice.





Hope you're all having a lovely Christmas!

PS - I totally forgot to announce the winner of my Schuh/Vouchercodes Giveaway! It was Vanessa from Nightmares and Boners! HOORAY!!
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Friday, 23 December 2011

See that girl, watch that scene.

Lately more and more people keep telling me that I’m the girliest friend they have. Normally it’s when I’ve talked them into buying loads of makeup or spending a night in watching Enchanted and painting our nails (IT IS THE BEST FILM EVER). I don’t MIND being girlie, though. I’ve discovered that when you’re a grownup, you can be terrible at sports because you are girlie (not like when you're a kid, and everyone thinks that it's because you are a clumsy nerd, even though that is of course the real reason). That seems like a much nicer excuse!

Anyway, this is one of the reasons that I love Christmas because the parties mean an excuse to really embrace my girlie side. Which is pretty much all sides of me, but I mean REALLY embrace it. Coiffed hair, false eyelashes, flamboyant makeup, sky high heels, dripping in jewellery – oh, and a fabulous dress, of course.

BEHOLD!

Dress – Warehouse
Shoes – Matalan
Jewellery – Topshop
Nails – OPI Caught In Your Net

It was my work Christmas do last week and after scouring the shops for something beautiful and reasonably priced, I realised that I had this scarcely worn little beauty from Warehouse in my wardrobe instead. I bought it for NYE the year before the year before last and it’s seen me through one party, one Ascot trip and one wedding reception. I do absolutely love it. I’m a sucker for greeny/blue tones anyway, and you know by now I love a nipped in waist and a full skirt. I was never sure if the larger chested girl could do one-shouldered, but it turns out that with a good bra (my Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless, still going strong, still can’t recommend enough) it doesn’t matter! No lopsidedness at all!

Anyway, I went all out. False eyelashes courtesy of the Girls Aloud Eylure range (I got the whole lot half price in Boots last Christmas and have enjoyed working my way through them - the aptly named Sarah ones were my choice this time) and sparkly green eyes, thanks to Barry M. And as for my hair… well, I had vague ideas of doing a sort of curly beehive thing that tumbled down my back and it turned out to be surprisingly easy! All night I was asked where I got my hair done and was greeted by shock when I said I did it. But it was easy, honest. It’s basically just a backcombed top, put in a half ponytail, and then the rest all curled and gripped randomly around it. But it works, huh? CHECK OUT MY MULTITONALS.

Also check out Gemma photobombing in the background!

It was a fab night. Unusually for me, especially at an event with wine out on the tables, I decided not to drink. It was the night before Sha’s birthday and I wanted to save myself (and I’m SO glad I did!). It turns out that all those end-of-the-night photos where you look all cross-eyed and sweaty are not down to general wear and tear, but in fact BOOZE IS THE CULPRIT. This was taken when I got home:


Not bad, huh? And I got to be super smug when everyone was complaining about their hangovers on Saturday. What did you wear to your work Christmas do this year?

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Thursday, 22 December 2011

I'm one of a kind, I'm designer.

TBBCAR was a bit of an epic undertaking, involving lots of begging on my part – not my favourite activity! One of the companies who generously approached me right at the start though, was Stanwells, offering a £100 voucher to give away. Stanwells is a boutique with two branches based in the South (Lymington & Bournemouth) – plus they have an awesome website. They sell a lot of designer products, which I adore, but sadly do not have the budget for most of the time (I keep saying I’ll start buying less, spending more, but it doesn’t happen).

It’s okay though because they’ve branched out into Stanwells Rerun, which sells discounted and nearly new designer merchandise – the products are stunning and the prices are completely manageable! A fair few products have made it onto my Christmas list...



!

These YSL shoes are at the upper end of my budget at £106 but they’re YSL, down from £595 and BEAUTIFUL

So. Much. Pretty. You can shop Stanwells either online or in-store at Stanwells & Stanwells Rerun.

PS - This post was written in collaboration with Stanwells.
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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin', ring ting tinglin' to.

I feel like I haven't been very Christmassy on this blog lately - and suddenly it's on Saturday and I don't know what's happened! I'm actually pretty sorted - most of my shopping was done at the end of November (thank you, Amazon and Brand Alley) and I'm starting to make plans for the big day. I've been put on dessert duty, so I've been scouring the internet for inspiration. So much baking, so little time.

I've also been amazed by some of my fellow bloggers' posts on Christmas. So much creativity and inspiration! I had a bit of a Christmas tips session last year - so please do take a little look at my Christmas Wrapping Guide (it's pretty genius) and my tips for repurposing beloved toys as decorations. Here are my favourite Christmassy posts (and some baking inspiration for good measure!):

Ellie's Handmade Christmas. How awesome is her old paper bunting?


A Thrifty Mrs is Christmas mad and I'm a huge fan of her tips, especially those for for homemade gifts - I'm longing for blackberry vodka.


Elizabeth's posts on Domestic Sluts make me want to get in the kitchen. I'm so making her pecan pie this year.


Kim's blog is always my first destination when looking for baking inspiration. How much do I want these toffee blondies? A LOT. And also these S'mores Bar Cookies. Nom.


Oh, and anything that brings together peanut butter, nutella and cookies is FINE WITH ME. Thank you, Chocolate Moosey for these.


My sister-in-law has asked me to make a trifle for Christmas day. I'm not sure this, from Willow Bird Baking is what she had in mind, but now I've seen it, it cannot be unseen.

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Living in a material world.

Another day, another website with a whole bunch of awesome dresses that I want. This is becoming a problem, really. My wardrobe struggles to close, and when I get dressed in the morning I've started suffering from sensory overload and end up wearing the same dresses over, and over again. Especially to work - I actually have plenty of work-appropriate dresses but I get bored of them so easily. So, yeah, ignore the whole bit where I said I had too many dresses and look at all these gorgeous Freemans.com day dresses instead. I want them.

I love this checked long sleeve dress - there's something quite grungey yet chic about checks, I think. It looks like it could be vintage:


I suspect I am too old for pinafores but they are SO DAMN CUTE.


Love the bird-on-a-wire print on this Vero Moda dress.


This pretty little shift dress would be so cute with a cropped blazer and knee-high boots.


Now these are maybe not so work appropriate, but they'd be great for Christmas day, right?


PS - This post was written in collaboration with Freemans.
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Monday, 19 December 2011

Those days, I'd stumble in the dark.

The last weekend before Christmas always seems to be a jampacked affair (although last year all plans were scuppered and I ended up snowed in with a good friend, a few bottles of wine and a takeaway). There’s so much to pack in, although to be honest, I didn’t really get any of my jobs done. I had lots of fun though, and that’s what counts.

I was meant to go out on Friday night, but was exhausted from a night out on Thursday night so stayed in. It wasn’t very relaxing though as we were babysitting for Cameron, my baby nephew. He is adorable, but he doesn’t like sleeping all that much. His party trick is to look like he’s just about slipped into unconsciousness, then as soon as you whisper ‘He’s just about asleep…’ he wakes up and laughs at you. Cheeky baby.


Saturday was the best day of the year. I blogged about it last year, so this year I livetweeted it… CHRISTMAS PANINI DAY!!! Oh, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. One day. One sandwich. Turkey and sausage and bacon and brie and stuffing and cranberry OH MY. They were possibly the best yet.


THEN! We got changed, got our Morgan’s Spiced ‘n’ Coke on (it’s going to be the drink of 2012, mark my words) and headed off into London where we had an awesome chat on the tube with a random man about Community, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation. Then we headed to my favourite venue, Brixton Academy, for Soulwaxmas. Lots of dancing (and avoiding people who were on vast amounts of drugs) ensued. Got home at 4am. Ouch.


So Sunday was mostly lost to sleep, but we met up again in the evening for a night of Christmas movies (Elf, Muppet Christmas Carol and Bad Santa) and huge amounts of Dominos Pizza to help us get over our hangovers. SO MUCH PIZZA. It was amazing though. I’ve been dieting for so long, I’d forgotten how good it was. We indulged in a few of the great online pizza offers which meant we got a couple of their gourmet pizzas (the Quattro Formaggio is SO FLIPPING CHEESY), some garlic bread and even cookies included in the deal. Which we weren’t overexcited by, until we ate them. OH MY GOD. I kind of wish I had never tried them as now I’m just going to want them all the time. They’re amazing. Seriously.


And that was it! Back to reality for the last few days of work before Christmas. It’s so hard to concentrate when your brain is full of presents and giftwrapping, but I’m getting there. Only a few more days to go…
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Friday, 16 December 2011

That's what makes you beautiful.

Ever been to a penguin party? Me neither. Well… UNTIL NOW. (Now = last Saturday) Earlier this year, I was talking to Sha, my bestie, about what the perfect party theme would be. I’m still struggling – I’ve got a Big Birthday next year and I can’t think of anything that’s awesome, obtainable and intrinsically ME. Sha, though, got hers in a nutshell. See, Sha loves penguins – understandable, of course, because PENGUINS ARE AMAZING. So what better theme for her 30th than… A PENGUIN PARTY.

(Stop trying - there is no better theme.)


The dress code was black, white or penguin so penguin costumes were not mandatory. I decided to go penguin inspired, in an LBD (I seem to have so many more LBDs than I thought I did!) with bowtie (a brooch that was actually part of the dress already), accessorised with penguin print tights. YES YOU HEARD ME RIGHT.

Dress - New Look (belt & brooch part of dress)
Tights - Pamela Mann (Ebay)
Shoes - Matalan
Bracelet - Topshop

Top hat - Stolen from Russell

It’s a cute dress – I actually blogged about it back when I bought it – and an outfit in itself with the built in belt, although I found myself secretly wishing I was wearing something a little more… penguinny. If anyone ever sees a penguin print dress, let me know, okay? (Although I did feel a bit more dressed up once I purloined the hat. If there is a hat at a party, I will end up wearing it. FACT.) Plus, I had major dress envy as Sha looked amazing in her polka dot dress of dreams, from Vivien of Holloway. Isn’t it stunning?

Sha’s birthday is almost as big a deal to me as mine is. And, if you’ve followed this blog for any time at all, you may have noticed that I’m obsessed with my birthday. So I was hard at work all week, creating some weird and wonderful baking experiments to fit in with the penguin theme.

Winter wonderland cake! (Coconut cake with coconut cream cheese icing. Holy WOW... I did not make the little penguin sugarcraft toppers. Thanks, Ebay!)


Aaaand mutant penguin cupcakes! (Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate peanut butter icing, topped with chocolate peanut butter cake truffles and more chocolate.)

I am going to open a bakery called Ugly But Tasty.

It was the best night. Just the ultimate BEST. I loved being in a group of people who danced just as enthusiastically to My Chemical Romance as to One Direction (both MAJOR guilty pleasures, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised). As Sha put it, LIFE HIGHLIGHT.





And all night, I had this funny, warm feeling in my belly. I just felt completely overwhelmed by love. Love for all of my amazing friends who’d gone to so much effort with their costumes and who all stayed late to clear up. But most of all, love for one of the most incredible ladies I know, who would drop everything to help you out and move heaven and earth if you needed her to. Someone who shares my obsessions for seasonal food and drink and bad movies, who thinks it’s totally acceptable to take a hip flask out with you, who is always the last one on the dancefloor. It’s rare, but incredible when you have those moments of total clarity and realise the people who are truly important to you, but there you go. So I’m dedicating this post to Sha, who has been there as a constant nugget of awesome for the last 14 years. Everyone should have a Sha in their life. I really do love her a lot.


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