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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday best..

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Dress: Orla Kiely
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Clutch: Marks and Spencer // Boots: New Look
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Coat: Kate Spade
I can barely believe how long I've had this dress before getting around to wearing it. I think I bought it in the ASOS pre-Christmas sale in 2013, thinking that I'd wear it to an Xmas party. I then ended up wearing something else and it's been sitting around unloved ever since.

A friend came over the other day as she needed to try on potential dresses to borrow for an upcoming ball and whilst turfing some options out of the wardrobes for her, I rediscovered this one. I lost no time and wore it to the theatre that very evening.

It's silk and organza and it just feels so very perfect on - ever so princessy, I guess. I teamed it with my ever-impractical Kate Spade tinsel coat and black shoe boots and the black clutch bag I had to buy in Bristol when my other one fell apart during the day.

A fairly simple outfit all things considered, but I liked it.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

She snuck out in that cotton dress..

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Dress: Handmade // Bag: Irregular Choice
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Tights, hat: H+M // Cardigan: F+F // Shoes: Office


Another typical Saturday outfit for me. I had some Amazon vouchers to use up recently, and as well as ordering a Fitbit (more to come on that at some point), I spotted this fabric and decided I would order some to make my very own version of the CK fish dress I'd been recently lusting after. 

I used the Bette dress pattern again - a current favourite, it seems - and decided to embrace the colours in the print with the tights and shoes combination. The hat was added purely to hide how dreadful my hair looked (the main reason I ever wear hats!) and I grabbed this bag because it was big enough to carry the parcels I had to post on my way into town. 

A bit of a mish-mash, perhaps. But I kind of liked how it all turned out. 

Friday, 29 May 2015

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to..

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Dinosaur Clutch: The Whitepepper
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Burlesque Beauty heels: Irregular Choice
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Lemon print cardigan: George
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Seaside Print Dress: George
I guess I'm quite predictable and/or easy to please when it comes to what I'll like. I'm pretty much open to anything with a quirky print, anything with dinosaurs, anything colourful. Right?

So, yeah. My sister probably came up with the perfect birthday outfit for me. What a star.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

#bloggerlodge

I was recently invited by Travelodge to stay at one of their Birmingham hotels as part of their #bloggerlodge campaign. Frankly, I jumped at the chance to do something nice around the time of my birthday. We collated diaries and settled on staying for a night of the Bank Holiday weekend. 

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We set off on Sunday morning so that we could make the most of the day. Unlike most of my trips to Birmingham, I had no particular agenda. Whilst it's a city which is relatively close to me (about an hour away) and I've been before, I don't feel as though I know it as well as a lot of other places, despite playing a Monopoly game around it a few years ago. Hence, we were pretty happy just to relax, explore, and see what the city had to offer us.


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One of the most amazing (in my opinion) is the new Library of Birmingham - last time I visited the city this was still being built, so I was pleased to see how it had ended up, although the library itself isn't open on a Sunday so we had to kind of peer through the windows. 

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Close to the library is the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. We spent a good hour or so soaking up some culture and marvelling at the fact that people no longer seem to do things like model-making to the same degree. As someone who's fairly interested in architecture, it seems sad when certain things move on with the technology of the times. That said, I did kind of get to the stage where I'd seen enough ancient pottery bowls to last a lifetime. 


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No prizes for guessing where we ended up next. Well, no trip to the city would be complete without a stop at the Bullring, would it? Despite not being much in the mood for shopping (trying hard to stick to the spending ban, after all!), we had a couple of reasons to visit Selfridge's - He wanted to try on a particular jacket, and I....wanted to drool over the pretty shoes. Some things never change!

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We stopped off at The Balcony bar for a drink, looking out over the shopping centre. Plenty of Prosecco there, for those of you who might have been worried about the recently reported shortage.

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More exploring followed - I wasn't in the good books when we'd walked to the Custard Factory only to find that that too, doesn't really open on a Sunday and we had to walk all the way back again. We did get to stop into Cow, which is one of my favourite vintage shops around. My spending ban was kept only because the pretty dress I tried on was too small. Booo. 

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We did a fair amount of exploring around the canals and the Mailbox area, where there are plenty of lovely shops, bars and restaurants. Our Travelodge for the night was the Central one, which meant we were perfectly located for the nightlife. We tried out plenty of drinking establishments; my favourites being The Botanist and Fumo 

All in all, we found plenty to do and so much to see. We had a lovely time in Birmingham and it's nice to know somewhere a little better when it's not too far to visit for the day. Thanks again to Travelodge for putting us up for a night. 

Have you been to Birmingham? Would you add anything else to my list of places to visit?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Old favourites.

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Heels: New Look // Satchel: Zatchels
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Skirt: Warehouse 
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Top: Forever 21 // Glasses: London Retro

Well, I was hoping to have a post about my little getaway at the weekend, but it's been one of those days today where I can barely believe that it's Wednesday, let alone 3pm! 

So, an outfit from last week instead. I'm not sure what made me think of this skirt last week, but I decided I'd dig it out and wear it with this super ancient bird print top from Forever 21, many moons ago and worn here. I actually swapped the skirt with Sarah last year. 

Oh, this week is mental. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Tuesday Titles 048: The Mourner

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The Mourner - Susan Wilkins

More crime - you'd be forgiven for thinking I barely read anything else, lately. I have to admit, though, this one is probably one of the best crime books I've read in a long time. 

If she can't get justice, will she settle for vengeance?
Kaz Phelps has escaped her brother and her criminal past to become an anonymous art student in Glasgow. But can life under the witness protection scheme ever give her the freedom she craves?
Banged up and brooding, Joey Phelps faces thirty years behind bars. Still, with cash and connections on the outside, can an overstretched prison system really contain him?
Helen Warner, once Kaz's lawyer and lover, is a rising star in Parliament. But has she made the kind of enemies who have no regard for the democratic process, or even the law?
Ousted from the police and paralysed by tragic personal loss, Nicci Armstrong is in danger of going under. Can a job she doesn't want with a private security firm help her to put her life back back on track?
A murder dressed up as suicide and corruption that goes to the heart of government unite ex-cop and ex-con in a deadly quest to learn the truth. What they discover proves what both have always known - villainy is rife on both sides of the law.

All sounds pretty good, no? Well, I'd agree. Despite the fact that there has been a previous book, this really didn't lose anything for being the second in a series. In fact, I'm likely going to track down the first and read that too, purely because I liked Wilkins' writing style and found the pace to be fast enough to keep me turning the pages, but not so rushed as to miss anything critical. 

Another definite recommendation for me, and a request for "more, please" from this series. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

On being pleasantly surprised..

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Handbag + shoes: Primark
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Lana Dress: Lindy Bop
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Jacket: Primark


A rather hastily thrown-together outfit for a meal out to catch up with a friend a couple of weeks ago. We had a lovely meal, and then the evening was tainted slightly by getting back to my car to find it damaged with a note on the windscreen. Thankfully, it's all in the process of getting sorted out, which has restored my faith in humanity somewhat. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The world is such a cheerful place, when viewed from upside down..

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Dress: Handmade (Bette pattern from Sew Magazine)
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Jumper: F+F*
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Heels: Irregular Choice
I really was excited when I received this fabric. It took me a little while to get around to deciding what to make with it (another Bette dress? How original). But really, how awesome is the print on this fabric? Sloths! 

Once it was made I wasted no time in wearing it, paired with this short sleeved jumper and some ancient yet wonderful Irregular Choice heels, along with the most expensive bangle I've ever owned (from Jackie Brazil). I've actually since listed it up for sale on my IG sale page, although I'll be sad to part with it, as I heard that the company no longer exist, as of April this year. 

Any exciting plans this Bank Holiday weekend? I'm excited to be off on a #bloggerlodge break. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

We won't stop running till we reach the sun..

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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444)
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Jacket: Primark // Bag: Vintage
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Why Not heels: Irregular Choice


Another quick outfit catch up post. Isn't it funny how life seems to go in circles. A couple of weeks ago I managed to make plenty of time to sew, and am still catching up on posting the outfit photos of the new dresses I've made. In contrast, this week everything else seems to have taken over - four weekday nights out of five this week have been spent at various guiding meetings and the fifth at the theatre. Around this I've had to fit in baking for an event and making a couple of commissioned projects, so all sewing time has been for others, not for me. 

I'm taking more and more commissions lately - it's helping me function, whilst times have been a bit tougher than usual. I'm always happy to receive enquiries. Maybe I'll put together a post at some point of some of the things I've been making. 

So, this fabric is another which has been stashed away in the trolley for an absolute age. I wasn't quite sure what to make from it - I'd not realised that I had enough for a dress, so when I discovered that and convinced myself that the print wasn't too childish (says the girl who has more than one dinosaur print dress), I whipped up another of my favourite pattern - Simplicity 2444

Losing no time, I wore it the next day with a green leather jacket, some polka dot tights and my trusty Why Not shoes. It was election day and it kind of amused me to be able to make decisions with my feet.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Friday Favourites 145..

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001: Bear Leggings, £14
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002: Dinosaur Clutch, £40


This week's wishlist is all about The Whitepepper. So many lovely things on there at the moment. 

001: How cute are these little bear leggings? I just love them. The bear himself just looks so judgmental, no? I love him. 

002: I've been lusting after this bag since I first saw the promo photos and now it's live, I have to decide between all of the different colours. I think this yellow is pretty awesome, though. 

What are you wishing for this week? 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Gonna get myself connected..

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Revenge tee: Connected Generation*

A couple of weeks ago, I was made aware of the rather lovely premise behind Connection Generation. They sell t-shirts in a range of designs (more and more are being added to the site by the day) and if you're feeling creative you can even design your own and upload it to be printed on a tee.

Shirts cost £25 and £5 of every sale goes to help fund a project - all of the projects supported by Connected Generation are charities which benefit children, either locally or internationally.

So, you choose a t-shirt design, choose a story to support and then place your order. Even after your shirt arrives, you'll be supplied with updates so that you can see how the project you supported is going.

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Hat: Seeberger // Bag: Irregular Choice
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Athlete wedge trainers: Topshop
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Skirt: Monsoon
My tee arrived a couple of days after placing the order and it's great. Really good quality, my usual fear about white tees being a little see-through were not a problem here and the fit is great. And the design? I absolutely love it. It's a lyric from one of the designer's songs. I love the illustration - a perfect mix of slightly gothic, Tim Burton-y darkness and yet the girl also reminds me of Nadine from Twin Peaks.

As I don't ever wear jeans or trousers, I was a little unsure how to style it, but then the sun was shining and I had about ten minutes notice to get ready for a picnic, so I threw something together which I thought would be suitable.

Armed with wedge trainers (the most practical picnicking heels I could get away with for our local National Trust grounds), a huge handbag to throw just about anything into, and a straw hat ostensibly to protect me from the sun (in reality to hide the fact that my hair was a mess, as usual) I was ready on time. 

How would you style up a tee from Connected Generation? Well, you needen't imagine it; they've offered one reader the chance to win a t-shirt of their choice from the site. You can enter below. The giveaway closes on 29th May and a winner will be picked at random from all eligible entries. The giveaway is only open to followers of t*rexes and tiaras.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Treat her like a critter..

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Bag: Irregular Choice // Cardigan: F+F
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Necklace: New Look
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Dress: Handmade (fabric: Tokyo Train Ride Shibuya)
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Pearly Girly heels: Irregular Choice


So I'm still here - managed to make it through changing my domain, without losing all of my content. I'm such a technophobe that this is rather an achievement for me. 

Anyhow, one of my recent makes as this week has been a little too crazy to have found any time for outfit photos. Or anything else, for that matter. Last night I got home at about 10.30pm from a meeting and then spent a couple of hours baking cookies promised for a party at the end of the week. At least it's one more thing off the perpetual to-do list. 

Anyway, today I got my Fitbit Flex, so have set that up. I'm quite excited to see what all of the fuss is about, and I'm hoping that it will be just what I need to shake up my fitness routine. More on that soon, I'm sure. 

This outfit was a little thrown-together one from last week. I love the little critters printed on this fabric, which I bought from The Village Haberdashery when I was in London in February - that's the third and final fabric I bought from them. (See the octopus and elephants were the others.)

Worn with the dress (which is another Bette) were my trusty Pearly Girly heels and a necklace which I picked up in the New Look sale shortly before Christmas. The dress is such an odd colour but I think it will go with quite a few colours. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Tuesday Titles 047: The Post-Birthday World

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The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

This book was one I'd picked up from a charity shop last year. I've been reading my way through my heap of unread books in no particular order, which seems to have taken the pressure off and in the past few weeks I seem to have read a lot more than usual!

The Post-Birthday World centres on Irina, who at the start of the book is in a steady, long-term relationship with Lawrence. Whilst he's on a business trip, he persuades Irina that she should still keep up their tradition of having dinner with their friend, Ramsey. Irina is in two minds about whether to go, but Lawrence persuades her to and what happens that night changes her life forever. Or does it?

From then on, the book is written in a parallel universe structure, with alternate chapters showing how Irina's life would have gone depending on which decision she had made. I liked this structure, although it did mean that I was aware I was speed-reading some of the chapters as there were some overlap with some of the phrases used or perhaps some of the details were similar if not exactly the same. I didn't find that this hindered my enjoyment of the book. So, things which would happen (i.e. Irina's visit to her mother's) would happen, but the other people involved may be different depending on which universe she were in.

I also enjoyed the various twists to both of the stories. One was fairly obvious from about halfway through, but the other took my entirely by surprise.

A definite positive recommendation here. Read anything worth sharing, lately? Leave it in the comments. 

Monday, 18 May 2015

#bloggerbookswap

A little while ago, I organised another #bloggerbookswap. I love these, as I always have a stack of books I've read and would like to pass on to other people who I think would enjoy them.

I was paired with Gemma for my swap and she sent me the most beautiful parcel, wrapped up in polka dots.

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I'm a big fan of passing books on to people who I think will enjoy them. Unless they're very special ones I'm not exactly precious about books and am happy to part ways with them in the hope that others will enjoy them, too. 

Gemma sent me a couple of books which I couldn't wait to get stuck into. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've never read Emma, despite the fact that it's a classic. It's definitely next in my pile. 

I'd not heard of Hester Browne before, but have now read The Vintage Girl and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Did you take part in my book swap? Let me know what you received! 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Protein Boost..

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Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie* - part of the exclusive Sam Bailey range

Protein. It's a bit of a buzz word lately, isn't it? Everywhere you look, people are getting fired up about protein balls, protein pancakes, controversial protein adverts. It seems that these days, you can't swing a cat without knocking over someone's protein shake.

I guess that I'm comfortably on this bandwagon, I gave up my vegetarian diet about 18months ago because going to the gym more than daily meant that I was just not managing to get enough protein into my diet to compensate for the work I was doing. Since then, I try to make my meals protein-heavy and I do drink protein shakes after the gym, to try and help with the muscle repair.

I have felt for a while that my fitness journey seems to have come to a bit of a standstill. My main problem is not so much the exercise, as I do plenty of that, but with eating enough, I skip meals, I never feel hungry and I don't get anywhere close to eating enough calories per day to compensate for those burnt. So, when I'm despairing because I can't shift the pounds I'm intent on shifting, that's the reason and I only have myself to blame.

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Knowing I needed to get a little more structure into my daily routine, I took Exante up on their offer to let me test out some of their meal replacement products. Rather than using them completely instead of eating, I'd have one shake and one meal replacement sachet during the day, as well as a proper meal and snack.

I've never used any meal replacement systems before for weight-loss or anything else, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. For each and every item, you just add water. Some of the meals are then heated, or cooked in a pan. None of them (in my experience) looked anything like their photo counterparts on the website, but highlights from the products I tried were the cheese and bacon breakfast eggs, Shepherd's pie and Pasta Carbonara. These all tasted like what they were supposed to, much to my surprise.

For me, this trial did serve it's purpose. I spent a couple of weeks eating three meals per day, of which at least one was one of these. I am getting slightly better at doing this with proper food as well. I still do take a protein shake with me for after the gym as I figure it can't do any harm.

Have you ever tried any meal replacement products? Would you recommend them?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Hungry Squirrel..

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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444)
A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a competition on Instagram held by Layla Amber. Layla's a British jewellery designer of whom I'm a great fan; she's stocked in my favourite local shop and I own a few of her pieces already. 

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Hungry Squirrel Necklace: Layla Amber*
The prize was my pick of her new Secret Garden Collection and it was almost impossible to choose. In the end, I went for this squirrel necklace and as soon as he arrived, I was eager to style him up. 

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Trench Coat, brogues: F+F
Running with the blue and orange theme, I picked out this floral textured jacket and my current go-to trench coat for the miserable weather and paired them with my rabbit print dress.

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Jacket, tights: Primark