Thursday 30 December 2010

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet.

A quick Friday Frock this week - as I'm sure you've noticed, it's New Year's Eve! I'm actually hosting a party, but found the time to snap my outfit and pop it up here before everyone arrives.

As I said in my last post, my friends and I aren't breaking with tradition and are having another house party this year. Honestly, though, I'd always rather be in someone's house with a nice glass of wine, comfortable on a sofa with the people I love instead of squished in some overcrowded and overpriced bar with a whole lot of annoying people. We'll probably end up spending hours reminiscing about our schooldays and then dancing like crazy lunatics around the living room to Britney Spears.

I got this LBD in America a couple of years ago - I actually was on the hunt to find something suitable for this Halloween costume and found the perfect option in Forever 21. The only part of it I dislike is the exposed zip at the back. I know they're incredibly on trend but I HATE THEM. I actually painted this zip with black nail polish to make it stand out less!

Dress - Forever 21
Shoes - Primark
Tights - Dorothy Perkins
Earrings - Accessorize
Hairclips - Primark
Necklace, bracelet & Ring - Topshop

I originally had this urge to wear a black dress with red tights - when I wore a fancy dress costume for my sister's birthday, I had to wear a black dress underneath the costume because it was so poorly made and before I put the costume over the top I was like 'Oooh, this looks really cute with red tights!' but then I saw this music video and wanted desperately to emulate Sophie Ellis-Bextor's eyemakeup and as I already dressed up like an elf-fairy once this Christmas I figured I shouldn't mix red and green again, so I wore these turquoise tights.

You can't really see them, but I'm wearing my favourite ever earrings - for someone who hardly ever wears earrings they're so long, but I've always thought they look ace when my hair is down as they kind of blend in. I do like dark green with my redder hair, too - on this occasion I was aiming for a big red curly mane of hair which didn't really come off - it pinged up too much! But I threw caution to the wind - hey, it's New Year's - and added these peacock clips that I got in Primark.

I painted my nails with China Glaze Emerald Sparkle, but then added Barry M's blue glitter to the top half of my nail to create a multi-faceted effect. It looks kinda cool, I think, especially with this awesome giant ring I got in the Topshop sale.

Anyway, I've babbled long enough - I've got to go and put the crisps out! Have an AWESOME New Year's Eve everyone, whatever you're doing, and I hope 2011 is a magical year for everyone reading this - I'll be back tomorrow (hopefully - if I'm not too hungover!) with a bit of a 2010 roundup!

I'm a professional cynic but my heart's not in it

It seems like every year, my friends and I have a discussion about what to do for New Year's. The conversation always starts out ambitious - such as renting a cottage in France. Then, as we start taking people's free time into account, France turns into rural England. Then, inevitably, we settle upon a party at someone's flat - which is exactly what we're doing this year.

During the research period, though, I stumbled across some amazing holiday rentals. And slowly but surely an obsession has been growing that one day WILL be realised... I want to have a party in a castle!! Or a manor house!! Or a mansion, even, I'm so not picky.


This one has a MOAT:

Yep, that's right, it is possible to rent out a castle or manor house as a holiday home. Isn't that amazing? I can't get over quite how much I want to do this. Granted, some of them cost about £9000 for a few night's rental, but between 20 odd people that's only like... okay, still more money than I'd like to spend, but I want to!

Actually, I've found some 20 bed properties that would cost under £100 if they were rented at full capacity, which is amazing. I'm starting to wish I was getting married just so I could force all my hens to spend a few days in an awesome house. Imagine running through the halls! I bet they'd have TAPESTRIES. And there would be GROUNDS. Actual acres! And maybe even STAFF.*

If there are any owners of pretty houses or castles or manors or mansions reading this, I will happily take pretty photos in exchange for being allowed to run riot through your home. Anyone? No? (But seriously, I read this article once about people who get to live in National Trust or English Heritage properties for next to nothing, and all they have to do is show people around sometimes and stop them being burgled. I WANT TO DO THIS. Seriously, does anyone know what I'm talking about because I've googled and no luck BOO.)

It's not something that's likely to happen this year, unless one of my friends has a rich uncle, unknown before now, who has gone off to Kenya or somewhere and requires a group of relatively responsible housesitters (please note – this happened once. It was amazing. It wasn't a mansion, but it had a lake!) but I am determined to see this obsession through to the end. I may not ever get to live in a huge house with gargoyles and ghosts, but with you lot as my witness, I will have a party in one.

*I would be awesome with staff. Kind, nice, well-paying and friendly, but above all happy. Because someone would be doing all my cleaning. All of it. And how could you be miserable when you don't have to clean?

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel.

I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas. Mine's been ace and super relaxing. From lovely presents... scoring a few great sale bargains.

I baked. A lot.

I sent and received a lot of Christmas cards.

I lazed about and watched a lot of telly.

And I bonded with family, both old and new.

I hope your break has been similarly relaxing - and hopefully, like me, it's not over until the New Year! I'm determined to be more productive over the next couple of days. *resolved*

Merry Christmas, you lovely lot.

Friday 24 December 2010

So go ahead, put your red dress on.

I said to my friend today that I've been doing a week's worth of Christmas posts and they've almost all been food-related. (Her response was 'That's what Christmas is all about!' This is true.) Normally fashiony topics are resuming today, though, I promise. Because it's Friday. And only one more sleep until Christmas!

So, it was my work Christmas Do last week. Unusually, I wasn't dying the next day - despite realising that hardly anyone on our table was drinking white wine, and therefore myself and my date (don't get excited - it was my sister) had three bottles to ourselves - although it being on a Friday night certainly helped. (Oh god, the hangover last year, when it was on a Thursday. It was BAD.)

I was searching high and low for a dress - I had something in my mind's eye (it was red, prom-style, sort of fluffy and possibly strapless - I am still hunting!) but during one of my routine hey-lets-try-on-my-whole-wardrobe evenings, I discovered how smitten I was with this Topshop number. I had seen Kelly Brook seriously working it in several magazines, so when the red version popped up in the sale, I nabbed it.

I liked it, but wasn't totally smitten, so when I finally tried it on properly - only a few weeks ago - I was a bit shocked by just HOW perfect it was. I think sometimes you find a dress that fits like it was made for you, and this is one of those dresses.

The plunging neckline teamed with the knee-length skirt keeps it JUST on this side of decent, and the fitted waist means that I don't feel like the number 8 - a problem with so many dresses for me! Plus the emphasised shoulders just makes the nipped in waist look smaller. Also, it's RED. I have a bit of an obsession with red at the moment, had you noticed?

Dress - Topshop
Shoes - Primark
Necklace - Ernest Jones (Maid of Honour gift!)

I disobeyed the golden rule that redheads can't wear red (I'm not really a redhead, anyway...) and styled my hair in a tumbling side-bun/chignon - a more structured version of this hairdo. I am a total convert to the Aussie Hi-Hold and Hi-Shine hairspray (purchased after they put a beehive in my hair at the Blogger Market which was still perfect after I'd SLEPT in it). This is how it looked at 1am - considering I left the house at 6pm, it stayed in
SO well. It was fairly simple, actually - I let it dry in a side plait, then just put loads of pin curls in it which I hairsprayed, liberally. At the last minute I took the grips out so there were tons of tight ringlets and just and gripped them all randomly to my head, and added a slight twist at the back to ensure it stayed. I got asked a few times who'd done my hair, which I consider a compliment! I know that I'm blessed to have very thick hair (believe me, I've paid my dues in getting it to behave though) but I think most people could achieve this style - it was really easy. I also don't think you need hair anywhere near as long as mine to make it work.

I would have loved to have worn my hair down, but on a dress like this, the shoulders and neckline need to be shown off. I also added some falsies (the Eylure Nadine Party Lashes), red nails and sparkly shoes (as seen better in this post).

I was in a rush - as I always am when preparing for a big night out - so didn't get a chance to snap any pictures before we went, except the first one which my sister took! So most of these are snapped on the go - even a hastily grabbed iPhone one! I took a few when I got in to show off my eyemakeup (hence the red eyes...). I was going to show off the dress too, but by this point it was SO creased. It was actually already creased by the time I got to the party, which isn't good - anyone know how I can prevent this in future? Would spray starch help?

This dress is still available in Topshop in black and blue. However, both have JUST gone in the sale, so unless you are veryvery small, the website is not going to help. Today, though, I picked up the blue version for £20. My sister
had already snapped up the black one - she's a size smaller than me so gutted she can't steal mine (I keep telling her to eat more...). However, when I was in Topshop today I spotted two staff members sorting through clothes on a rail, and I could see my dress, so I snatched it - my sister's size! I LOVE those sale moments, amazing.

Anyway, back to MY dress. Overall, it's a great dress (except the creasing) and it was a great night, as the photos showed. I'm not proud of this one.

That's a lie, I'm totally proud.

Have an amazing Christmas everyone!

Thursday 23 December 2010

And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows.

Originally - as today is my first day off for Christmas - I'd planned for today's post to show off the baking I've already done for Christmas Day. Except... I didn't end up doing any baking today. I went round the shops, I bought a dress and a hat (both for me) and came home to an exciting new toy, which I'll write about soon. No baking.

However, I'm sure that many of you are like me and haven't got round to doing your Christmas baking yet either. Or, you plan to just buy ready-made cakes, which is really what I should have done all the time - you bake once, people expect you to bake all the time! Luckily, I like baking. And eating obscene amounts of icing. So, over the coming few days, these are the recipes I'm going to be attempting...

These are probably my favourite cookies. It's an American recipe and doesn't involve Snickers, as I originally thought when I heard them referenced on Veronica Mars. However, they are light, fluffy, just-chewy-enough-but-crunchy-round-the-edges and incredibly cinnamonny. HEAVEN. They're also really easy to make. WIN.

These get raved about and snapped up whenever I make them. And they don't even need baking! They're awesome and ridiculously easy.

I'm going to take this recipe - yep, including the box mix - and make ganache again like in this post. However, I'm probably going to leave out the peanut butter and substitute the dark chocolate for milk chocolate, so they're less rich. We have double cream that needs using up, so I'm doing our fridge a service. Obviously.

Two of my besties are American ladies - Southern, to be exact - and they've cooked for me a few times. The dish I always go away raving about is the Sweet Potato Pie. Guys, it's awesome. (I'm afraid I'll never be a convert to creamed corn - sweetcorn shouldn't be creamy! It's just WEIRD!) I'm dying to make it and show my family what we're missing out on - my mum has attempted pumpkin pie before, and it's always been bland and disappointing. I am fully expecting awesome.

This is one of those life-long goals that I've never achieved. I've always wanted to, though, so one of my missions this year is to create one from scratch. I'll let you know how it goes...

Finally, here are some adorable baking experiments I found on bakebakebake...

Oh god, I'm getting hungry just writing this. What are you planning to bake this Christmas?
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