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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

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Reindeer Brooch: Layla Amber // Necklace: H+M (gift) 
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Dress: Handmade // Shoes: Topshop
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Cardigan + Coat: Primark

Another festive outfit, which I wore before Xmas but have been a little behind with getting posted. I made this dress just before Xmas 2014 but don't seem to have posted any outfit photos of it - oops! The print is tiny little reindeer with hearts, on a pale green backgroud.

The red heart details lend themselves (in my head anyway) to being accessorised with red, so I dug out these Topshop heels. For "dug out", read "they fell on my head recently, which reminded me of their existence". I also wore my red coat, although it's not really been cold enough to need it of late. 

Of course, the ubiquitous leopard print cardigan made an appearance, along with a necklace gifted to me by a friend a couple of birthdays ago and a new addition to my brooch collection in the form of this Layla Amber beauty.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Yarn Along {2}

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 My first Yarn Along in a couple of months. That's not to say I've not been knitting in the meantime; I have, but I wasn't able to share as it was a Christmas present.

Anyhow. The current project is a baby blanket. I'm knitting this as part of the #knitforwinter campaign which is being run by Sunrise Senior Living, who along with having local care homes knitting for them, have recruited a virtual knitting circle of bloggers to help them knit items to be donated to First Touch. First Touch is a charity who support prematurely born babies and I was rather humbled to have been asked to help out. I might not be the best knitter, but I was certainly happy to pick up my needles for this cause. 

As for my current read: Swallows and Amazons, as I'm taking part in Alex's Blogging Good Read in January for which this is one of our chosen books, and I wanted to re-read it, as it must have been more than fifteen years since I last read it. Nostalgia alert. 


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Irregular Choice Cuckoo Bag

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Another rather superb Christmas present, which I couldn't wait to share. This is the Irregular Choice Cuckoo bag, which I believe was released about a year ago. I assume this one was second-hand, as it doesn't seem to be available online anymore, but it's in BNWT condition, and I'm not someone who is put off by second hand things, in any case. 

It's a lovey bag; plenty of space to carry all of the essentials, in one large zipped compartment. The main fabric on the bag is a floral print needlecord, which is then edged with the metallic leather piping and heart details we've come to know so well from Irregular Choice. 

The show stopper, of course, is the wonderful cuckoo clock decoration on the front of the bag, conplete with embroidered bird, tree and squirrel, surrounded by toadstools. 

Monday, 28 December 2015

You would even say it glows..

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Dress: Handmade // Cardigan: Primark
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Take a Chance heels: Irregular Choice
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Hat: Vintage // Parcel Bow necklace: Charming Charlie

For once, choosing this year's Christmas outfit was pretty simple. I made this dress last weekend - the fabric has been sitting in the trolley for almost a year. Alex and I stopped into Abakhan just between Christmas and New Year last year and I beelined towards this in the bargain bin. 

The trouble with these bargains is that you just pay for the fabric by weight, it's not on a roll and unless you think to ask (I didn't), you don't know whether you have enough for a dress or not, until you dig it out and take a look, months later. This was two pieces in the end, a smaller one which I was able to get the front bodice from, and then piece a couple of bits together into a back bodice, and then another, larger piece, which I gathered into a skirt. 

I pretty much used the Bette pattern as a start point, narrowing the shoulders and making a more V-shaped back due to fabric constraints, but I've got something wearable at least and the cheerful reindeer print reminds me of a Chrismassy cartoon movie we used to have on VHS as kids, so I love it for nostalgia reasons alone. 

I also figured it went very well with my new Irregular Choice heels. And if Christmas isn't the time to dig out a vintage hat, when is?! 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sunday Shoes 091..



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Take A Chance heels: Irregular Choice
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I was lucky enough to receive some more pairs of shoes for Christmas (that'll never catch on, hey?!). One of the pairs which had been top of my list this year was Take a Chance. I'd ummed and ahhed about these because I have a pair of dice heels already and the blue and shape are a little similar to Tiny Ted. 

But I think that they're different enough - I really love them. The sides are holographic, they've got bows on the fronts of them and glittery scalloped edges and straps. The backs of the shoes have an embroidered phrase which reads: Always bet on the queen of hearts instead of the queen of diamonds".

I couldn't wait to wear these for my Christmas Day meal on Boxing Day.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

My #'thriftygiftswap parcel..

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 Have all the festivities died down a little, yet? I have to admit, my Xmas Day only really begins today due to family commitments. But I thought I'd share some presents with you. As well as running my annual #bloggersecretsanta swap, I took part in Janet's #thrifygiftswap this year, too. I sent my parcel off (failing to take any photos of it before sending) to my recipient, and then a few days later, received this box of goodies from Louisa.

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To be honest, my parcel was pretty much perfect! I felt as though Louisa really hit the nail on the head with things I'd love and she'd clearly done some research. So, what did she send me? 

Well, a jar full of pretty buttons and ribbons to use on future sewing projects. I particularly can't wait to find the perfect project for these amazing owl buttons. 

A mini Christmas cake, some dinosaur socks (perfect as I never have any socks!) and a rather fabulous dinosaur baking notebook, which has plenty of space to note down new recipes. A huge improvement on the way I currently tend to do things, which is writing them on the back of an envelope or a post it note, which then goes missing. 

Louisa also sent me a Ladybird book of Things to Make, and a Cath Kidston soap. I think she did fabulously well with all of my little presents and I really loved taking part in the swap, so thank you to Louisa for my parcel and to Janet for organising, too.

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Did you take part in any swaps this year? 

Friday, 25 December 2015

Friday Favourites 175..

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Merry Christmas and happy Friday to one and all. A little browsing the other day and I came up with a few more pairs of Irregular Choice shoes I'd be happy to add to the collection on my new shoe shelves.

Hopefully Christmas has brought everything you wished for. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Climb every mountain..

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Alpine Twin Set: Lindy Bop
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Red boots: Office (via eBay)

Aside from digging out the Xmas dresses I made in last year's flurry of pre-Christmas activity, my festive wardrobe has grown a little this year. I made something of a franken-dress from some Rudolph fabric I snapped up last December in the Abakhan sale. When I came to look at turning it into a dress, I realised there just wasn't as much fabric as I'd thought, and it was in two bits, so I had to rather jigsaw-piece the back of the bodice together. I'm saving it for Boxing Day and going to be sure to wear a cardigan with it. 

I opened an early Christmas present (with permission, on the basis that I'd get more use from it before Xmas than after) and I've already worn it for a couple of Xmas meals and a day of loafing around relaxing at Alex's. I really like it with these red boots, which I don't seem to have worn enough of this year (where has boots weather even been?!). 

I don't really own a lot of twin sets - I have a couple of Laura Ashley dresses which came with their own jackets, and may have lusted over a sequin dress and top set on ASOS recently, but they've never really been something I've bought into. That said, this seems super versatile in that I've also worn the dress with a red cardigan, which worked well. I guess I could also wear the jacket over my high-waist midi skirt



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Festive accessorising..

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I know I've already mentioned that I'm still (with only two days to go) not feeling very festive. I've been trying hard to combat that by dressing as Christmassy as possible. 

One of my favourite Xmas themed accessories is this Radley bag, which I was given for Christmas about ten years ago. It gets packed away with the decorations and gift wrap each year, so I tend to forget about it until I'm getting around to decorating, which doesn't always happen. 

Thankfully, this year I was pretty early with my present wrapping, so I got the box down in good time and have been using it for the past couple of weeks. 

Do you have any Christmas accessories which help to get you into the festive spirit..? 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Tuesday Titles 074..

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Dead Ringers : Christopher Golden

A definite recommendation here; I began reading this on the cross trainer at the gym the other day and all of a sudden an hour had passed and I'd barely noticed! 

When Tess Devlin bumps into her ex-husband, she's furious that he seems not to know her.
And then Frank Lindbergh is attacked by an intruder in his home ... an intruder who wears Frank's face.
In the heart of the city, a mansion stands on a hill and behind its wrought-iron fence an evil force is at work, leaving everyone who comes near it hysterical with fear.
But the real terror lies inside the house. Tess and Frank have no choice but to confront a mistake made years ago. A mistake that summoned an ancient evil ... and means even their own reflections could kill them.

As soon as I began this, I was hooked. Frank is kidnapped by his double and has no idea what is going on. Who is this man? Why is he applying for Frank's new job? And whilst Tess knows that this mystery man could not be her ex-husband, who is away in the mountains, but he looks just like him. 

The mystery takes a few twists and turns and kept me guessing right until the end. Five stars from me, for sure. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright..


So, everywhere you look, Christmas is right in your face. It's only a few days away, yet I'm really not feeling that festive excitement and I can't understand why. 

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For once, this year I managed to get all of my present shopping done before the end of October. (Partly because I've been on a spending ban for myself so I've been more likely to buy things for other people, plus I've been on a fairly strict budget of late). So there was none of that venturing out on Panic Saturday, as the media seem to have dubbed it. 

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In fact, instead I spent my Saturday at Alex's house, and we did venture out to Lark Lane for brunch, but aside from that we spent a very relaxed day exhausting the Netflix film choices. On the advice of my work colleagues, I've finally seen Home Alone for the first time. I also managed to get caught up on my outstanding penpal letters, which was good, but it was a super no-pressure day. 

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And yet, there is still this "what have I forgotten?" feeling hanging over me. I've iced the Christmas cakes I've made for family and friends, wrapped all of the presents and kept the post office alive sending the ones which needed to be sent. I've made a veritable tonne of mince pies and made all of the handmade things I'd planned to. In theory, I should be feeling smug at my level of organisation. But that, and that festive feeling seem set to elude me.

What do you do to make sure you're ready for the big day?

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Sunday Shoes 090..

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Clearing out the heaps of shoeboxes to make way for new shelves in the wardrobe room has meant I've rediscovered pairs of shoes I've never even worn before. Take these, which I'm reliably informed by Pink Haired Princess are called Squiggly Diggly

Their box was hidden down the back of one of the wardrobes, and it wasn't the original box, hence having to ask about the name. I'm afraid I don't know what season they were released, but having rediscovered them, I'm pleased to report I teamed them with my new Lindy Bop alpine print dress twinset for a meal out last weekend. 

Do you ever find things you'd totally forgotten about?


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Saturday, 19 December 2015

My #bloggersecretsanta parcel..

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For the past few years, I've organised an annual Secret Santa swap for bloggers. Most years, I've been pretty good at saving my present to open on Christmas Day, but this year I was so impatient when it arrived that I just couldn't wait. The bonus, or otherwise, depending on how you look at it, is that as organiser you know who has sent your parcel.

In fact, Jane didn't stay anonymous and wrote me a lovely card to go with the super box of goodies she sent me. My presents included some stag napkins which will be adorning my Christmas Dinner table, snowman shaped playing cards, a notebook and the cutest pen and tape dispensers I've ever seen and a cute little Xmas decoration character. 

I don't have many Christmas decorations - I don't go in for a lot of decor for the festive season, really - but the ones I do have all share common themes of being wooden and red / white, so this little cutie will fit in perfectly with the rest of the gang. 

A big thanks to Jane for my parcel, and if you've written about yours, please let me know..!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Friday Favourites 174..

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It feels like such a long time since I went shopping for coats, but my love of them has certainly not dwindled. This week's wishlist features some of my current favourites. Oh, how I long for the spending ban to be over.

001: This F+F faux fur coat was suggested to me by their #WinterStyle team recently as the perfect coat for the festive season. I totally agree - a lovely finishing touch to any party outfit.

002 and 004: I'm not sure whether the cocoon style coat really suits me, as someone who favours full skirts and dresses over jeans, but these colours are both so pretty that I'd be tempted to try.

003: Kling never fail to come up with some pretty, feminine styles for their coats. I love the contrast pastel piping on this one.

005: Polka dots on a coat: win.

006: This statement M+S piece would be perfect to jazz up any boring workwear outfit, no?

What do you look for in a coat?


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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Christmas Dinner: Solved..



A little break with tradition this year, as I'll not be spending Christmas Day with the family. My sister will be working, which means the traditional Christmas Dinner at the childhood home will be taking place on Boxing Day instead.

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This is fine, as it gives me the chance to tackle cooking my own Christmas Dinner. Although there will only be a few of us around the table, I've been panicking a little about timings and how to get everything ready at the same time (there's nothing worse than overcooked sprouts after all!). Thankfully, the internet has saved the day (and our dinner!) with this handy infographic, which I'm going to be referring to for all of my timings. I've picked the sprouts from the allotment, all I need to do now is collect the turkey from my local farm shop. What could possibly go wrong?!

Are you tackling Christmas Dinner this year? Thanks to Mayfair Granite for allowing me to share this infographic.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Specs Appeal..

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Emily Glasses - Scout at Glasses Direct*

Since getting a pair of glasses in the correct prescription recently, I've been forever forgetting to take them to work, or home again. Naturally, I jumped at the chance when Glasses Direct offered to solve this problem for me, by sending me a pair of their Scout prescription glasses to review. I've had a set of Scout frames before, in red, but they're not really right for my eyes anymore, so I've not worn them in a while. 

I've decided I love colourful glasses so I chose the Emily frames and sent over my prescription details to the team. Two days (seriously!) later, they arrived. I was a little surprised by how light they are: they weigh almost nothing which makes it easy to forget I'm even wearing them.

As for the colour, I love it. There's a lighter lilac colour on the front of the frames (although it's not the translucent effect I'd expected from the website) whilst the arms are a darker purple. 

Glasses Direct are currently offering 50% off many of their women's glasses and if you order before tomorrow you'll get them in time for Xmas, which I think is pretty great. 

What do you think of these Scout frames?

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Tuesday Titles 073..

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The Tell-Tale Heart - Jill Dawson

"Where do you think feelings are? Are they, like, inside you? Or do they sort of get inside you from someone or somewhere else?"

Well, The Tell-Tale Heart does a good job of exploring the above notion. 
When a teenager dies in an accident, it affords Patrick, a fifty-year-old professor, drinker and womaniser, the chance of a life-saving heart transplant. But as Patrick recovers, he has the odd feeling that his old life 'won't have him'. He becomes bewitched by the story of his heart, ever more curious about the boy who donated it, his ancestors, the Fenland he grew up in. What exactly has Patrick been given?

Patrick is a fairly unlikeable protagonist, but I'm always a fan of a timeslip novel and enjoyed the way there were three stories, vaguely interlinked. We dip in and out of the life of Patrick, Drew, who died in the crash, and Willie, an ancestor.

One of the most memorable things about this book, for me, was the descriptions of the landscape and countryside. Dawson really brings this area to life, which I'm told is a characteristic true of a lot of her writing. 

Read anything good, lately?



Monday, 14 December 2015

The Perfect Mince Pie..

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I'll admit, I'm not one of those people who gets that excited about festive food. I mean, turkey dinner is all very well, but for me the best part of the lunch plate is the Brussels sprouts: I love those and still have plenty to pick from at the allotment.

The one thing I do like to bake in advance of the big day, though, is mince pies. And this recipe is my tried and tested one, passed down by my mum and honed over the years.

To make 24 in a regular-sized bun tin, you'll need:

  • 12oz plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 7oz butter
  • 1lb mincemeat
  • Icing sugar for dusting 
It's all pretty simple: sift the flour and icing sugar and rub in the butter. I tend to find I need about 1 tablespoon of water to make a soft, but not sticky pastry mix. Once kneaded together, wrap in cling film and chill for 15-20mins. 

Post-chill, roll out your pastry onto a floured surface, and stamp out circular bases for your pies. Line your bun tin with these, fill each with a decent teaspoon of mincemeat and stamp out smaller shapes (I tend to use a heart or a star cutter in it's smallest size, but a shot glass works too) and lay these on top. 

Bake for 10-12 mins at 190c in the oven. Once the pastry is golden brown, bring these out and sit on a rack to cool, then dust with icing sugar. They keep fine for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin, if they last that long..

If your'e super organised, these freeze really well pre-bake. Make them up in the tins, freeze in the tins until they're solid, then you can decant them into a freezer bag so as not to take up so much freezer space. Just remember to place them back into the tins before you defrost and bake them!

Do you have any recipes you remember making when you were little? 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday Shoes 089..

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Kitty Princess heels: Irregular Choice
Another old favourite to share today, but a pair I haven't worn in a while. Kitty Princess are a fairly old style now, but I really like the different shades of blue suede, plus of course the kitty on the fronts. The ankle strap almost foils me every time; I am always convinced that it doesn't button closed around my ankle as it seems tight, but I always manage it. 

In exciting Shoe Room news, the shelving project in in progress. I can't wait!
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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Timbbbbeeeerrrrr..

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 Another thing to add to the to do list: sort out shelving.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Friday Favourites 173..

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Christmas is creeping ever closer, and there is certainly no sign of the pretty temptations letting up. Here's what's been winning me over this week.

001: I love a good pair of gloves when the weather gets colder. The steering wheel is always cold first thing in the morning and I prefer leather gloves to woolen for some reason. These polka dot ones are so cute.

002: This is one of my favourite dresses I've ever seen on the Chi Chi site. I don't think I've got any of their dresses, but if I were to start a collection, this would be the one I'd choose first, for sure.

003: I really love this jumper, which I spotted in Sainsbury's the other day. The cute ice skaters and hearts make it a rather understated festive knit, I think..

004: Irregular Choice have launched a collection of tights. As an avid tights fan and an IC fan, this excites me. (The price doesn't. Hint: Santa?)

005: I've had this cute little Kewpie wolf necklace in my favourites for a while now. He's kind of creepy but in a good way...?

006: How cute is this little sleepy star bag? A lovely holographic finishing touch to just about any Xmas party outfit.

What are you wishing for at the moment? I think top of my list has to be another week or so before Christmas itself, just so that I can get on top of things..!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Frantic Festivities..


All of the stress. 

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I'm really beginning to feel as though I'm drowning in a sea of cards to write, presents to wrap and parcels to send. I've been toting my current knitting project around with me just about everywhere, as I need to get it finished off and packaged up to send out, but it's end seems constantly out of reach.

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With plans to have some shelving built for the shoe room, I've been continuing to clear out things from my wardrobes and I'm trying to be ruthless. Anything which doesn't fit anymore *needs* to go. These are some of the shoes I've listed for sale so far (size 6, 7 and 8) and more is being listed by the day on my insta-sale page. Plus, every little helps when it comes to paying Christmas bills!

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Receiving my first handmade Christmas card the other day reminded me that I really need to finish off, write and send my cards. I'm sure that with only two weeks until Christmas Eve, the last posting dates must be looming. 

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Robot Wool - Ditto Fabrics
 I have so many sewing projects I'd love to get around to - this super wool arrived the other day and is waiting to be cut out and become this pattern. I think this is always the way when you have lots to make for others. I still have a couple of Christmas dresses to make for others, and a couple of other garments as presents. I unpacked my box of Christmas dresses last weekend for the guides Xmas weekend and remembered that I do have a handful of different ones, so that was nice. Although I'd still love to make myself one in this fabric. I also have the postage stamp quilt to finish, as well as a pile of dress fabrics ready to be made up and some lovely cord which I want to make this pattern with. I think that might be a task for next year, though.


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Last night, to finish off one of my swap parcel, I made a veritable heap of gingerbread, inspired by Paige's blog post. I've been baking a fair amount lately, with a few Christmas cakes to make (I've been using the same recipe for a few years now, as it's so easy and seems to be well-received) as well as plenty of mince pies. I need to think of a fruit-free option for my sisters for Xmas Dinner though. I'm leaning towards this, but will need to leave it until nearer the time.

What's stressing you out at the moment or are you all set with your festive prep?



Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Forest Neutral..

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Darlene Dress: Dolly + Dotty*

I mentioned there was more Dolly + Dotty love to spread and it seemed as though there was no time like the present. Since returning home from the weekend, I've been in something of a panic mode about just how much there is to do before the festive season. I'm yet to post my Christmas cards and my #bloggersecretsanta present is one of the only ones remaining to be posted. 

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Tea and Cakes heels: Irregular Choice
I made a to-do list the other day, which is more than ten pages of my notebook long, but weirdly it's been helpful to have it all written down and I've ticked a good number of things off so far. I was tempted to go to the cinema (I really want to see Krampus) last night, but gave it a miss as I figured my time would be better spent getting some of the baking backlog done and finishing some of the Christmas presents I've been making. I also cleared another bundle of things out of the wardrobe room and listed them on my clothes sale, and there's more to add.

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So, this is my second Dolly + Dotty dress. This is Darlene and I have to admit, this one more of a step outside of my comfort zone than Petal. I don't often plump for block colours and can't think of the last time I chose anything as neutral as beige. I have to admit, though, as soon as I put it on, I loved it. I also received plenty of comments on it, too. 

Obviously, I teamed with a pair of Irregular Choice shoes which were floral, so as not to have a completely plain outfit. And I wore mt floral coat, which didn't make it into the photos. It doesn't look as though this colourway is still available on the Dolly + Dotty site at the moment, but there are plenty of others to choose from.

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