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Monday, 31 October 2016

Well I am an idiot walking a tightrope of fortune and fame..

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It's been a jolly lovely weekend, all things considered. I spent Friday evening catching up with some of my favourites. Saturday was filled with running, baking, errands and a trip to watch Pinocchio at the theatre, which was one of my favourite performances in a long while! And then yesterday, I packed up my overlocker and pootled over to Rach's new house for a day of sewing. 

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One of the things on my #2016MakeNine list was to try out the Linden sweatshirt, from Grainline Studio and since Rach is The Jersey Queen, it seemed only fitting that we'd tackle this one when I went to visit. I'd printed and cut out the pattern pieces before I went, so began by cutting the fabric out (and discovering I'd probably end up with sideways print sleeves, as I was a little short on fabric). 

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This fabric came from Fabric Rehab, which had a bit of a sale on last week, and I ordered one metre, which was enough for me, because I was using some ribbing (from here) for the cuffs and hem.

Apart from a couple of little mishaps (somehow I managed to cut a hole in my fabric, and at one point I *may* have had to unpick a seam because I'd stitched two sleeve sides together or something. But, I eventually got the hang of it, and ended up with a wearable, finished garment. This is good because I've found the perfect fabric to make a version for my best friend for Xmas, now that I know what I'm doing. 

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Shoes: Irregular Choice // Dungarees: Vintage 

These vintage dungarees turned up last week and I'm pretty pleased with them - although I'm still not entirely convinced about whether I can pull off the whole trouser look. But I figured it would be a good thing to try out this top with, and was quite pleased with the result.

The Linden brings me up to 4/9 from my #2016MakeNine goals, and it's almost November, so I guess I'd better get a move on. My quilt is almost finished; I just need to figure out how to bind it.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

'Cause in your warmth I forget how cold it can be..

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Collar Clips: Layla Amber // Cardigan: Handmade (Andi Satterlund Miette)
Over the years I've built up quite the collection of Emily and Fin dresses but this is possibly my favourite. I saw it in the shops an absolute age ago, and ummed and ahhed because I already own other seaside print dresses. Then it went into the sale and I remembered how much I adore the seaside as it calms me. And so, I justified it to myself and here we are.

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Dress: Emily and Fin // Pretty Poodle heels: Irregular Choice // Bag: Marc Tetro

I know, I'm pretty weird. I'm learning to be cool with that. 

Also very much liked the opportunity to wear my Miette cardigan again - I really want to make another but there is so much knitting to be done first. I have a huge list of knitting to do before the dreaded C-word. These collar clips go pretty nicely with it, though, I'm pleased at the prospect of wearing them on cardigans, as I rarely wear blouses with collars. 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

And walking out on you's still the best thing that I ever did..

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Necklace: Sugar and Vice
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Jacket: H+M /. Dress: Great Plains* // Heels: Irregular Choice

An outfit from a little while ago, hastily snapped after getting home fairly late from a long day, hence looking a little more tired than usual, if that's even possible. 

Very much liking this Sugar and Vice necklace - I wore it a couple of weekends ago and my friend was frankly getting tired of all of the people (mostly hairdressers) who commented on it's brilliance. Plus, one request from a friend to wear it to the sewing show next week. Which I probably should. 

This week seems to have zipped past in some ways, and yet dragged it's heels in other ways - mostly because I've been missing my favourite. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Friday Favourites 219..

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001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005 // 006 // 007

Another themed wishlist this week because it seems that lately, everywhere you look there are book prints and frankly, I approve. So, my favourite book-themed items.

001: This Lindy Bop dress sold it in next to no time, but we're being assured it will be back very soon, so keep checking!

002: What better print for a Kindle cover?!

003: Punky Pins have it right - I can't think of an occasion where the book wasn't better. 

004: I love Jelly Button Jewellery's new range of enamel pins and this one, which reads Drink Tea and Read Books would be perfect for so many people I know. I'm holding out for the coffee version, which is currently only available for pre-order, though. 

005: I know I've mentioned this awesome book bag from Yoshi in the past, but it's back in stock and worth mentioning again. 

006: Another gem from Joanie - this book print is the best one I've seen, and comes in a dress version too. 

007: Cath Kidston's book print is still going strong - available in other dresses and skirts, too. 

Celebrated your inner bookworm, lately? 


Thursday, 27 October 2016

And the last one out of the circus has to lock up everything..

I kind of broke all of my own rules with this outfit. I'm not sure why, but I've never been tempted by the whole shorts and heels thing - I just don't consider myself to have the right kind of shape.


And yet, when this playsuit arrived from Trollied Dolly, I was suddenly convinced that they might match quite nicely with the Daisy Street macaroon heels which I picked up from ASOS a little while ago. I think the colours of the heel match the pretty floral print really well. 

Thankfully, the playsuit itself isn't as short as some of the ones I've seen in the shops lately, and although I probably wouldn't wear it with a pair of heels without the tights, I think I'll wear it without tights with flat shoes in the warmer weather. 


The fabric is actually really lovely - I've been chatting quite a lot recently about fabric types; although I know that some people are a little wary about synthetics, I actually don't have a problem with them. I'm more interested in the feel of the fabric, I guess. And this is rayon, with a pom pom trim. 

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Brooch: Gift // Necklace: Primark
I dug out this necklace and was reminded of this cute little woodland imp brooch, which was a present from a penpal quite a while ago. I figured that the colours would work well to pick out the print, and quite enjoyed the effect. 

I will confess - I actually thought these were plain black tights, because I didn't read the packet properly in my bleary-eyed 5.30am haze and by the time I went to change from my gym gear into my clothes after my workout, it was too late to do anything about it. I don't mind the floral clashing effect, though.

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Zada Shoes: Daisy Street .. Tights: M+S


Are you a fan of playsuits? How would you style this one up? 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Everybody's waiting for the next surprise..

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Dress: Lindy Bop // Tights: H+M // Throw A Six heels: Irregular Choice
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Cardigan: Topshop // Ghost Brooch: Asking for Trouble // Necklace: Vintage

I know it seems a little early for Halloween, but I felt like wearing this dress anyway, so there we are. I snapped it up from Lindy Bop a few weeks ago in my order, but it seems to have gone out of stock by now.

I can't resist wearing this little glow in the dark ghost brooch pretty much constantly at the moment - Marceline's website is a new find for me, but it's filled with cute jewellery and stationery and is definitely worth a look. 

In other jewellery news, I picked up this necklace at my favourite local vintage store the other day because it reminded me of one my Nan used to let me wear when I was staying at her house as a kid. I'm not sure what happened to it, but this looks pretty similar and I love it just for that. 

They haven't photographed too well, but I picked up these glittery tights from H+M last weekend and I think I'll be wearing them rather often - they're lovely and thick which means that they're keeping me warm now that my office temperature seems to have plunged into coldness.

Finally, an ancient Topshop cardigan and my dice heels, which a friend reminded me about last week, and I was done, and rather liked the effect. I'm not often that fussed about actually celebrating Halloween - I can't remember when I last really *did* anything for it, but I'm all about a theme when it comes to outfits.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Fighting off the Mean Reds..

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After a little emotional wobble last week, I feel as though things are back on track. A long conversation with one of my favourite people on Saturday and an evening with another one worked wonders to make me feel more like myself again. I'm pretty lucky and I am all about focussing on the lovely things at the moment. Here are some...

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This super duper Audrey brooch turned up from Deer Arrow last week. I love Breakfast at Tiffany's so much - I remember reading the book as a child even before I discovered the beautiful movie and I definitely find myself channelling Holly when times get rough. I bought a pink dress from a local vintage shop on Saturday which totally reminds me of the party dress from this movie, too. Oops.

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I made some progress with my PodDolly rag doll kit. She's all cut out and I'm super excited to get her done and share the whole process. I know that my sister would very much appreciate her but I think I want to keep her. Watch this space. 

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Other happy things from the weekend have included Parkrun, finally getting some time to do some selfish sewing, getting my Christmas cakes started (using this foolproof recipe), fresh bed sheets and a big clear out of some of the clothes I no longer wear. I'll gradually list them over on my sale account, but it's nice to have a little more space. 


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Hollow Harper..

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Harper dress: Joanie Clothing 
It's been a bit of a funny week. A change of scene, which I wasn't really pleased about, ended up giving me a bit of time to reflect on some things which were bothering me, so in actual fact was probably very useful. I got a bit emotional and wrote an epic blog post draft which I doubt I'll ever post. And I was more productive than I've been for a while in terms of actually getting some stuff I'd been putting off for ages done. And felt a couple of massive weights lifted from my shoulders, for various reasons. I feel a lot more "me" again. That can only be a good thing. 

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Penguin Bag, Tights: F+F 
So, sticking with a focus on the positives, I'm excited about an evening out for dinner and the theatre, giving me an opportunity to wear this lovely new dress from Joanie Clothing. I'm absolutely fangirling over their site, lately - and they keep dropping more and more fabulous stuff on there. The Harper dress arrived last week and I knew I wouldn't be able to wait long until I wore it.

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Blazer: H+M // Necklace: Karen Mabon
Teamed with these velvet sandals and a pair of patterned tights, I opted for a plain black blazer to match this cutesy penguin bag. The dress seems such fabulous quality - a lovely, thick satin feel to it, very reminiscent of the recent Kate Spade offerings, and the skirt is nice and full due to it's pleats - no need for a petticoat here. I'm sometimes a little wary of wrap fronts, as I don't have much of a bust, but there's plenty of overlap on the bodice so no fear of baring too much flesh!

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Sandals: Topshop


Saturday, 22 October 2016

How to solve the Fear Of Missing Out..

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Recently, I've felt a little bit lost, incredibly tired and frankly, I've not been as strong as I should have been. Instead of pushing myself to be the usual busy bee that I am, I've been letting my mood sink further and allowing myself to sink into hibernation mode whilst I did so. If I've had plans, it's not taken me much persuading to abandon them and that's something I'm not proud of. 

Having been someone who thrives on being busy, this change in pace has definitely had an effect on my mood. A friend told me that he was worried that I seemed sad recently, and that I worry too much. And I know he has a point. I have been. I've noticed the triggers and I don't want my illness to rear it's ugly head so I'm squashing it, resolving to grab more opportunities with open arms, and make #GOMO my new thing. Going Out More Often.

We're always hearing about the FOMO concept - the fear of missing out. Social media doesn't help, as we look at the things other people are doing and we wonder why we weren't included. I'm starting to understand that. Why our life doesn't look like that, or we aren't doing the same things. Well? Why aren't we? What's stopping me, you, any of us from grabbing those opportunities and making things happen? I need to restore the natural order and fix this. 

I know I can be the absolute worst at taking my own advice, in so many instances, but I'm forcing myself out of my funk. I need to stop being so scared of what *might* (but probably, in reality, never would) go wrong, and have a little more self-confidence. In myself and in my ability to achieve a little more. 

Sure, I often set myself goals - run 5k, lift 100kg, tackle a new project, whatever it might be. I reach those goals, meet those targets and still feel a little dejected. It's not enough. I'm not clever, talented, strong, thin enough. In short, I'm not enough. 

I'm starting a list of the things I want to do this Autumn. Here's what I have so far.
  • See fireworks. Fireworks are one of my favourite things, so I'm definitely going to a display or a party this year.
  • Go to a gig - it's been so long since I last saw any live music and I miss it. 
  • Keep Parkrunning. I'm enjoying seeing the change of season each week in our local park.
  • Walks through the leaves. 
  • Make some progress at the allotment - I want to build some raised beds in readiness for next year. 
  • Take more photos outdoors.
  • Visit the seaside. I think I have that one covered at the end of November.
  • Finally book a city break. 
What are you planning to do this Autumn? Do you suffer from FOMO? Or do you prefer to stay cooped up and cosy?


Friday, 21 October 2016

Friday Favourites 218..

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001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005

I think it's almost officially Autumn, which is the time when the nights start getting colder and I consider shutting the windows a little at night. I mean, I'm not thinking about putting the heating on or anything *that* crazy (hasn't ever happened in all the time I've lived there), but for me, closing the window, even a little, is a big deal.

So I'm seeing all of the cutesy knitted accessories everywhere and getting excited about the prospect of coats and layers and everything. Here's my pick of the autumn accessories which have caught my eye this week:

001: Joanie Clothing are fast becoming one of my new favourite websites and they've had another bundle of loveliness arrive this week. One of the things I'm loving is this fox scarf. So cute! 

002: The George pub is a classic Vendula design, but the colours are perfect for the leafy tones of autumn - I'd love to add it to my fast-growing collection. 


003: Little Moose have some wonderful new bits in their new collection - I'd love these little girl earrings to finish off just about any autumnal outfit.

004: Lindy Bop have been getting more and more new items (although not the four I'm holding out for, just yet) and this masquerade print skirt is superb - I figure it's rather versatile as it would be a classy solution for a Halloween costume party, but is also understated enough that you could wear it anytime...

005: Oh, autumn always has me thinking about ankle boots, as I *always* feel as though I need to make sure I've got something suitably transitional. I wasn't sure about the returning embroidered boots trend. That is, until I saw this Miss Selfridge pair and now I've decided that I need some in my life. 


What are your Autumn essentials?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The owls are not what they seem..

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Dress: Lindy Bop 
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Tights: H+M // Blazer: George*
Ugh. This week seems to have been a bit of an emotional slog and it's only Wednesday. I'm sure there's some little rule somewhere that life waits until you think everything is pretty cool, and then unravels bit by bit. A reminder not to let my guard down in future, I guess. 

Anyhow, I was excited by the selection of tights in H+M at the weekend, and managed to pick up a few pairs. I've been ruining tights so much lately, so hopefully will have more luck with these. This pair is a kind of rusty coloured lace, which makes me think autumn. 


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Beach Trip heels: Irregular Choice // Bag: Aldo*
I'm not sure why it's been so long since I last wore these shoes, but I figured they went quite nicely with this dress - one of the new prints to hit the Lindy Bop site, of late. The Audrey dress is such a classic shape and I love a cute print, so it seemed like a natural addition to my wardrobe! 

And a change of handbag, just because. I seem to flick between my daily handbag, and will use one for a week or so and then switch it over. I get bored easily. Which seems to be the reason behind some of the emotional nuisance at the moment, I guess.

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tuesday Titles 110..

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The Two O'Clock Boy (DI Ray Drake) - Mark Hill 
I'll admit that quite often I am told about a book before I read it and often these descriptions contain words like "amazing", "powerful", "brilliant debut".  Rarely does a book's description contain the words "This is crime as it should be." - and even more rarely does a claim like that turn out to be so apt.

A new crime-detecting duo comes about, as newly promoted DS Flick Crowley is given a new case, under the expertise of DI Drake. Crowley is eager to learn, whilst Drake, in contrast has a feeling that the murder scene they've just attended is a message; a mere taste of things to come. 

As with so many detectives in recent crime books, Drake has his demons and they come back to haunt him in this book. 
 
Skipping back to days spent in the Longacre childrens' home under the control of the formidable Gordon Tallis, we gradually learn what has become of the children who grew up there. As we know from the front cover, one became a detective, one became a killer...

With it's graphic descriptions of the murders, layers of subterfuge, darkness and deception, as debut novels go, I think this is an amazing one and I absolutely can't wait for more of the series if the twists are anything like the ones contained in the Two O'Clock Boy. A five star review from me if ever there was one.




Monday, 17 October 2016

Are you a #JoanieGal?

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I love to discover a new website, and the blogging community seem to be on the ball when it comes to sending over a heads up on things one might like, so when Donna told me to keep an eye out for the launch of Joanie Clothing, I knew it there were good things to come..

A week ago, Joanie Clothing launched and I couldn't wait to place an order. Having seen teaser photos online of this amazing green floral dress, I knew it wouldn't be long until it fell into my basket and dropped through my letterbox.

This is the Harper Floral Wrap Dress and it's even nicer in the flesh than I'd imagined. The fabric (I'm always a little wary of polyester) is amazing. Lovely and thick, resulting in a lovely structured skirt and a fabulous print. I can't wait until I have an occasion to wear it.

I also ordered these cute sheer rose ankle socks, which I'm planning to wear with some velvet sandals, maybe. 

Feeling rather under the weather today, hence the lack of outfit photos, but hopefully I'll power through it and be back to normal soon.

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Have you discovered Joanie yet? If not, hop over there and take a look. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Polka dots and piano bars..

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Dress: Collectif 
So, a couple of weekends ago I went to the opera. I'd never seen Carmen before, although I'm a fan of some of the songs, so I was really pleased to get tickets - it was only showing for one night and sold out fast!

Despite feeling exhausted, which seems to be the norm for me of late, I managed to have a burst of enthusiasm and was pleased to have an opportunity to wear a dress I'd snapped up from the Collectif sale. It's got an overlay of tulle net which is embroidered with coloured polka dots and it reminds me of party dresses I had as a child. Nostalgia strikes again.

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Jacket: River Island 
This coat is one I always dig out when I want something to take me between seasons. I love the neck detail and have been looking for a sewing pattern with similar details, but the half-length sleeves make it a little weird to wear in the depths of the colder winter season. It was perfect to go over this dress for the walk to the theatre a couple of weekends ago, as it was a rather mild evening. 

Another opportunity to use my lovely new piano bar bag - I'm still absolutely besotted with this. It's such a cute and detailed design. I actually removed the cross-body strap before I left the house as I think it works better as a handled bag for an evening event.

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Piano Bar Bag: Vendula // Tiny Ted shoes: Irregular Choice

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Thoughts I have when I'm running..

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If I'm entirely honest, I never expected my Saturday mornings to consist of donning my leggings and my new trainers and heading to the local park to join the Parkrun

When I was a kid, I took part in a couple of "cross country" races and although I plodded my way through them, I was never very good. I never took it any further and remember one utterly mortifying sports day when I was nominated for the long distance race (I think it was only a few laps around the track on the field) and being only halfway round when all of the other houses had finished. 

I spend more time at the gym than is probably wise and yes, sometimes I use the treadmill I hate it. I find that the only way I can really run on it for very long while is to set up my Kindle and rest it in front of the screen so I can't see how fast etc I'm going. 

Sometimes I'll go for a run in the morning, if I'm away for the weekend or can't get to the gym for some reason. However, despite all of the above, I would not say that I'm motivated in any way towards running. I don't enjoy it, I never look forward to it? I'm yet to be bitten by the bug which a lot of my friends seem to have experienced, that's for sure. 

My typical thoughts when I'm out for a run go something like this:

  • The sooner I get round here, the sooner I can go home and have a coffee. 
  • I wonder if my trainers are too small. [They're not.]
  • Look at all of these people who have *proper* running t-shirts. They've done races. Wow. I'll never be one of those.
  • This hill is always steeper than I expect. 
  • I need to finish this without stopping. As long as I keep going, I don't mind about my time.
  • I wonder what my time is, though. 
  • Maybe I should get some kind of running tracker. Or bring my phone with me so I can run the Strava app. [I never do.]
  • Look, kids are running this. (Parkrun.) And they're faster than me. And they're not stopping. If they can do it, I've no excuse.
  • Oh shit, is that someone I know?! Please don't talk to me.
  • Maybe I should have warmed up more. 
  • Oh man, a dog. I am so scared of dogs. Don't go near the dog.
  • Steep downhill. I wonder if the grip on my soles works better on the path or the grass.
  • Can I go home yet? 
  • Maybe I should just walk for a bit. 
  • I bet I'm heaps slower than I was last time/ yesterday/ last week. 
  • I should visit the park more often. It's pretty.
  • Imagine running a marathon. Or even 10K. I think I'd die.
  • I hate this. 
  • What am I doing? 
  • I'm never going to be skinny. 
  • Thirsty. Maybe I should have brought some water. 
  • But then I'd need the bathroom. 
  • I really need to replace the Velcro on this iPod armband.
  • Is it going to rain? 
  • I wish I had one of those jackets which runners wear. But I'd be too hot in it. Where would I leave it? Is that why people have rucksacks?
  • God, not even on the home straight yet. 
  • I hate running. 
  • I'll never be a runner.
  • Why do I do this? If my Parkrun time is rubbish, it'll ruin my whole day.
  • I wonder how people learn to pace themselves. 
  • Ugh, can't wait to get home. 
As you can see, I'll never be a runner. Man, I hate it. 


Friday, 14 October 2016

Friday Favourites 217..

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001 // 002 // 003 // 004 // 005 // 006 // 007

Happy Friday one and all! I've got a little gem to share with you this week. A new discovery of mine: Bamble Vintage, which sells a rather lovely selection of vintage clothing and accessories. 
I've picked some of my favourites from the site to share with you

001: I love this bright polka dot dress - perfect for summer days or for layering up, pinafore-style with a long-sleeved body underneath. 

002: I love vintage knitwear; there's something so much cuter about it, IMO. 

003: I love a good floral print and this blouse would be lovely teamed with a pencil skirt and a set of pearls for a meeting.

004: I'm embracing hearts lately, and this bracelet is no exception.

005: This shiny mac would be super useful to see you through the crazy weather days we've been having. 

006: Love this little sundress - so very 80s. It reminds me of a duvet cover set we had at our gran's house when we were kids.

007: This houndstooth jacket might be my favourite of all - I love to layer a good blazer over a dress.

Happy news - the lovely Soph, who owns BambleVintage has given me a discount code to share with you. TREXESANDTIARAS  at the checkout will give you 15% off any order of £10 or more. That's valid until the end of October 2016. Let me know what you choose! 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Send in the clowns..

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Shoes: Lindy Bop
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Jacket: H+M
So. I'd completely forgotten about this jumper until I was hearing all of the clown-related chatter yesterday. I don't understand any of that, but I dug out this sweater as I fancied wearing it. He's such a sad looking Pierrot and I rediscovered this skirt as well. Everything is ancient and from H+M in this post, apart from the shoes and the tights, which I unpacked the other day and laddered immediately. Not having a lot of hosiery luck of late.

This jacket is currently having a bit of a moment; I bought this so many years ago on a little mini-break in London, where I basically did nothing but shop all day whilst my ex was at work. I don't think I've worn this jacket in so long, but finding it last week was grand - I don't seem to have taken it off since!

Um, well we're past midweek and I have very little else to add, really. I have a headache which just won't budge and am drowning in things I need to do, but there you have it. Roll on the weekend and a chance to hibernate. 

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Jumper: H+M // Skirt: H+M
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Wednesday, 12 October 2016

When the grass is jewelled..

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Coat + Tights: ASOS
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Dress: Handmade w/ Cotton and Steel fabric
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Hamble Oak Brogues: Clarks 
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Bag: Vendula London*
I feel as though finally, the seasons have turned and Autumn is here. For me, this means tights and brogues and coats, for rainy errand-running in town. Don't get me wrong, I love summer, but there's something kinda awesome about layers.


I couldn't resist adding these sparkly tights to my ASOS basket when I ordered this coat, although I wasn't really impressed with them. By the end of this one wear they'd laddered really badly on the heel and I ended up chucking them out, which is annoying. I don't usually have problems with ASOS hosiery and really liked them with these brogues.

I couldn't decide whether I loved this coat or not when it arrived. I fell for the lovely textured jacquard online, but hadn't realised quite how thin (and therefore really, for a coat, ineffectual) it is. More of a lightweight coat really, which wouldn't be so weird were it not for the big furry collar. 
After a little umming and ahhing, I decided that I still do like it enough to keep it, and it's pretty good for those funny autumnal days where it starts off chilly and brightens up.

My new piano bar bag has been my go-to, since the moment it arrived and it's the perfect size for carrying all of my essentials. I love that you can add the cross-body strap when you want to use it more as a satchel, as I did here. But that you have the option to use it as just a hand-held bag for more formal occasions (which I did with the theatre, the following night). 

Are you pleased about the change of season? I'm enjoying the cold nights.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Tuesday Titles 109..

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A Boy Made of Blocks - Keith Stuart


I feel as though there's been a bit of a trend over recent years, to write books with a focus on a character who has autism or Asperger's. This is purely an observation, and has been done so well in books such as The Curious Incident and The Rosie Project, that I'm always a little intrigued to see how others will portray a character with autism. 

Here, the character in question is Sam; an eight year old who likes to see his days go to the plan which his parents write out for him every morning. 

Sam's dad, Alex is finding the stress of working hard to provide for his family is getting to him. He and wife Jody don't really talk about anything other than Sam anymore and it's taking it's toll. Alex doesn't know what to do when his world begins to crumble from under him. 

Filled with his mother's advice: You need to look to the future, rather than living in the past", Alex eventually finds a way to move on from something in his past which has been holding him back. 

I loved this book and I think it's mostly down to the fact that it's told entirely from Alex's POV, so rather than being preachy about autism, the focus is on the way a regular parent deals with this. Sometimes I might not have agreed with Alex's actions, but I enjoyed being part of his journey to find his feet, and so much of the book just felt so...real. 

Honestly, I don't want to ruin this, so I can't share too much about the plot. All I can really do is implore you to read it and if you do, share it with the #MadeOfBlocks tag.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Like a soul mate he's your penguin..


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So, at the weekend my best friend had a birthday party. Her OH asked me to bake some cakes for the occasion, with the only stipulation being that they'd be penguin themed. Cue an information-gathering Pinterest search and a shortlist of ideas. 

One of the cutest things I found was the idea of jellybean penguins - my friend managed to find me a bag of black jellybeans from the local sweet shop and I used white candy melts for the stomachs and eyes, writing icing for the beak and a little orange fondant icing for the feet. They're pretty small and fiddly but they're the kind of thing you can make in advance and keep without problems, so I was fairly prepared and made these a week in advance. 

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I used them to decorate a chocolate sponge, which contained chocolate buttercream and cherry jam, as I know that's what my friend prefers in cake. I'd had all these grand ideas of turning the cake into an igloo, forming icing blocks and building it around, but in the end it didn't go quite to plan. 

With being so poorly last week, I still wasn't feeling great by Friday evening so a friend popped over to assist with the actual baking of the layers, which was really appreciated. I was feeling so queasy by this point that I don't think I'd have managed on my own and it left me with a lot less time than I'd hoped to decorate. So I went with a royal icing layer on the top and some penguins. 

Because I wasn't quite sure on the number of guests confirmed for the party, and my constant fear of under-catering, I supplemented the cake with some cupcakes, which I topped with blue candy melts and more jellybean penguins, dragging some skating lines in the top of the covering as it set. 

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I also made my first ever cake pops, having seen some amazing ones online. I wasn't quite sure how to make them, but with an abortive layer of cake on Friday which we took out of the oven a little too soon, which ended up crumbling, I had ended up making that layer again so had some spare cake. The American recipes seem to suggest that the best way to make cake pops is to mix cake crumbs with frosting, form the spheres and then use candy melts to cover them and to attach the stick. 

It seemed to work OK, and I'd make them again. I think they look like they're obviously penguins, I guess, even though I don't think that they're particularly amazingly decorated.

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Thankfully, everyone at the party seemed to enjoy the cakes and there was plenty to go around. So much pressure, though. 


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