Thursday, 5 March 2015

Morning After // Night Before with Tokyo Laundry

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outfit 1 - top courtesy tokyo laundry, skirt - american apparel, bracelet - vintage,

A couple of weeks ago Tokyo Laundry offered to send me a couple of pieces of knitwear, which given how freezing it has been recently was just what I needed. I have quite a few big jumpers, which are great for throwing on top of everything else when I am cold, but I was looking for some more fitted woolens which would look a bit less like I was just wearing every single item I owned in an attempt to stay warm.

I ended up picking the Paloma jumper in black, which is a more dressy jumper with floral cut outs in the sleeves. I wore this to cocktail making and dinner for my friend Amy's hen party on Saturday evening. I wasn't staying on for the evening as I had to head home, so it was the perfect jumper for a nice dressy afternoon/evening. Thesecond item I picked was the Reya Whortle Berry jumper in dark denim which I am afraid to say has become my new hangover jumper! Or at least my slobby-weekend-but-actually-looks-nice-enough-to-wear-out-of-the-house jumper! It's probably my fave of the two. It feels so comfortable, but it actually looks reasonably smart and fits great.

Both jumpers look much nicer in real life than they do on the website, and I think Tokyo Laundry are missing a trick by not including shots on models on their website, as the fit and colours are lovely and you don't really get a sense of their shape on the site. I haven't washed them yet, but the fabric feels really nice and soft, and although they are both very reasonably priced, I am hoping with decent care they will last well.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Wardrobe Clear Out

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I've been on a bit of a spring cleaning kick, and despite originally thinking I would leave my wardrobe until the weather got a bit better, and I could take unwanted items straight out of my wardrobe and off to a car boot fair, it was driving me so mad I ended up just going for it on Sunday morning.

Above is the before situation. James and I both have one Ikea Pax wardrobe each, which have been a really good buy. I like how customisable they are, so we both have slightly different set ups on the inside, but they look neat and matching from the outside. I have a rail across the top which is where the majority of my clothing is, two baskets down the bottom, which start out neatly ordered but as you can see quickly descend into chaos. There is also a shelf right at the top for handbags and hats, but it's a little bit too high for me to reach, so I don't have much up there. I also have a separate chest of drawers in the spare room, which still needs dealing with at some point. But that's a job for another day.

If I bought it again I think I would swap out the baskets for drawers or shelves, something I could add dividers to so my clothes wouldn't end up in quite such a mess. As it is they do fine though, they just need sorting every so often, and I can't really use the bottom one anyway as the cats have taken it over and created a nest down there which invariably ends up covered in cat hair.

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The first thing I did was to take out the things I knew I definitely didn't want. Mainly clothes which were totally worn to pieces, were mistake purchases in the first place (but old enough my guilt has died down enough to see it was time for them to go!) and things that just aren't my style any more. For me this was really old tired workwear, Peter Pan collars and a few nicer pieces that for whatever reason just didn't work. A sleeveless black dress for example, which fits nicely, but I never have an occasion to wear.

I could have taken everything out and looked at it one by one and decided stay or go that way, but actually ridding my self of the easy items first meant I already felt like I had been successful, and it gave me a good boost to keep going.

At that point I did take everything else out of my wardrobe, and started putting things I knew were staying back. This again was relatively easy - my extensive collection of Breton tops, an excessive number of party dresses (lesson learnt - I do not need any more party dresses!). I ordered everything in groups - evening wear - weekend wear - work wear, which for me is the best way to organise my clothing because I have such a big divide between my workwear and my weekend wear. The only thing that really crosses over between the week and the weekend for me are cardigans. If I didn't have such a divide in my wardrobe I would probably order by clothing item (dresses, skirts, tops etc) but I find it so much easier to put an outfit together when I order it this way.

This left me with the most difficult task. Sorting through the maybe items left.

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Interestingly the largest maybe category was clothes that are old and worn, but that I need, so I can't get rid of them until I buy replacements. Mainly some old worn out work clothes. In the end I had to make a note of these and put them back in my wardrobe. At least now I know what I need to replace, I'll get rid of them as and when I pick up replacements.

The hardest maybe category was the more recent purchases that I just haven't worn. Honestly a number of them were things I bought when out shopping with my mum - she is a terrible enabler and loves to shop! Again, lesson learnt - when shopping with my mum I need to go in with a list, or I will come home with a load of things I don't need!

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The end result - ahhhh - much better! Everything has more space to breathe, is hung on nice hangers (not grotty metal ones from the dry cleaner!) and the baskets are limited to my work out wear and pjs in the top one, and my gardening/DIY clothes down the bottom for my cats to sleep on! Basically everything which doesn't matter if it gets crumpled.

I also know exactly what I need to put on my shopping list. Weekend and workwear skirts, cardigans, summer dresses and coats. No more stripey t-shirts and party dresses! Well, I'll try...

This post was very inspired by Katie, Lily and Bri's own wardrobe clear out posts - so definitely check them out if this has got you inspired!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Midi skirts for short people

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hat - urban outfitters, scarf - dkny, top - uniqlo, skirt - miss selfridge courtesy house of fraser, shoes - faith at debenhams

For ages I was convinced I was too short for a Midi skirt. I used to stalk them online, but it was too depressing when you'd look at the details and discover the model was 5 foot 11 and the perfect midi on her was definitely not going to work for little old 5 foot 2 me. Recently the petite ranges in the high street have caught on however, and I've gone a bit nuts over them.

This particular number is from Miss Selfridge, kindly sent to me from the House of Fraser petite collection. I admit this outfit is not terribly different from this previous midi skirt outfit, but when I find a style I love I tend to rebuy it over and over! 

I read recently (I can't actually remember where!) that when matching skirt length to heel height an above the knee skirt works with a low heel, but a knee length or below skirt looks best with a high heel, so I put on my tallest shoes for this one. I think they may have a point, particularly when you are on the short side already. Which means if I am going to keep buying longer skirts I need to get a few more pairs of heels into my arsenal!

Monday, 23 February 2015

eFrame Review

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One of my resolutions this year was to take more photos with friends, and although I am still working on that, thanks to eFrame I now have a bit of inspiration to keep me getting the camera out. They asked me to review their custom framing service, which allows you to upload your photo directly to the website, design your frame and voila, it arrives in the post ready to hang!

I love how easy digital photography makes it to take photos. I'm old enough to remember when you still had to give your film in at Boots and hope for the best, but I am definitely guilty of letting my photos languish on my hard drive or in my phone too often these days. Wanting to actually give my photos an airing is part of what keeps me blogging, and instagramming too!

Having said all that this photo obviously has me in it, so it was actually taken by Reda (thanks Reda!) late last year on our Bristol extravaganza with my lovely school friends. We went on a graffiti hunt down Gloucester Road, drinking excessive amount of coffee and eating cake as we went! We are spread all over the country these days, so its rare we are all in the same place, which makes this photo that bit more special.

The framing service itself was super easy. There are clear instructions and it takes you through all the options, and shows you what they will look like on your picture, so it was easy to see what my photo would look like framed up. It also tells you if the quality and resolution of the photo will work for the size of print you have selected, which was really helpful as this was a phone camera photo, and I would have been so disappointed if it had arrived and been all fuzzy and pixelated. As it was I was able to resize it, so the print looks perfect.

Getting a custom framing done is obviously a pricy option compared to just picking up a premade frame from ikea or similar, but for something special it's worth it, and I would definitely use eFrame again.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A picture of the week

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Happy weekend! It's been a bit of a quiet one here. March is absolutely jam packed with work and social events for me, so I am enjoying a bit of calm before the storm. 

I went to a talk on Pop Art on Friday night with my mum, which was fun and a bit different. A friend of hers was giving the talk, and was really good. It was detailed and interesting and full of little tidbits about the artists, but also pacey so I didn't get bored. I particularly loved being introduced to the work of Pauline Boty, really the only female British artist of the movement, who died tragically young.

On Wednesday my dear friend Kate gave birth to a little boy, which is sooo exciting. I've been going down a rabbit hole of cute baby gifts ever since, getting way too over excited by tiny things! She's the first of my good friends to have a baby, and so along side all the weddings I've been to over the past year I'm slightly freaked out by how much better everyone else seems at being a grown up than me! But its exciting too, just a little scary. I'm 28 in a few weeks and while I do feel in some ways I have my shit together, in other ways I really really don't. I guess everyone feels like that though huh?


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Makeshift Dressing Table

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The battle for the bathroom in the morning has gotten to the point where I have had to decamp my makeup to the spare room. I have a bit of a makeshift dressing table on top of the chest of drawers at the moment. In my ideal world I'd like something like this or this, allowing me to more easily fit a chair in, and to prevent access to the kitties who love hairbands and anything which they can roll around on the floor - aka everything on my dressing table!

This set up does the job for now however, and it is nice to have everything together, easy to access and neat and tidy. Storage wise, I have gone for the old blogger classics - cleaned out candles and Muji acrylic storage. It's fairly stereotypical, but there is a reason they are popular - they work, and they look pretty cute! I have a couple of candles (no Dyptique alas - one day!) which I used up, the Murdock one is slightly larger and perfect for brushes, and keeping my mascara, eyeliner and concealer out of my cats' paws. The smaller one was a Penhaligons candle and is now the perfect size for cotton buds.

In terms of Muji acrylic storage, I have the narrow two drawers with the flip lid. I think most beauty bloggers have the wide version, but they seemed too big for my small makeup collection. Admittedly that was before my lipstick obsession got quite so bad, but they still do the job pretty well. The only downside is they get dusty and smudgy so easily. When I do finally have a proper dressing table I will keep less used makeup in the drawers, and just use this for my everyday staples.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Best Ever Peanut Butter Cookies

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For some reason the urge to make peanut butter cookies came over me a couple of weeks ago, and since then there has been a never ending stream of batches baking in our kitchen, as James and I have attempted to create the definitive recipe.

This, my friends, is IT.

It's based on an American recipe (they know their cookies), so everything is in cups, but we've anglified it a bit. And if I'm really honest, I quite like the idea of measuring everything in cups. It suits my rather haphazard style of baking to not measure everything out exactly.

Ingredients

1.25 cups plan flour
0.75 teaspoon baking soda
0.5 teaspoon baking powder (this is not the same as baking soda, which is an exciting new thing I learnt!)
0.25 teaspoon salt
0.5 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter (crunchy is the best, but I suppose you could use smooth if you are a heathen)
0.75 cup caster sugar
0.5 cup muscavado sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, and meanwhile mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Then using your fancy stand mixer (This is the point where I mention my mum bought a Kitchen Aid because it looked nice and we borrowed it six months ago and haven't given it back yet. And don't intend to ever.) to beat together the butter and peanut butter. I'm pretty sure you could do this by hand if you don't condone Kitchen Aid theft. Slowly add the sugar, egg, milk, vanilla extract and flour mixture.

Portion out into small balls and place on a baking sheet lines with baking parchment. Cook for 10-12 minutes, being careful not to over bake. I sat by the oven and pretended I was on the Great British Bakeoff. 

Be warned this makes a lot of cookies. I have become very popular at work because we have made an insane amount of cookies over the past couple of weeks.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. I'm probably not cool enough to pull of a bandana, but these look pretty awesome 2. House made from a converted grain silo? You fulfill all my circular living dreams! 3. Sarah made the best looking cake ever 4. And at the other end of the spectrum Jen talks about being well 5. Behind the scenes of monument valley  6. Carrie's five new things

Hello hello! Did you have a good Valentines day? James had to work on the actual day, but on Friday I did come home to a card and homemade peanut butter cookies (recipe coming soon - they are amazing!) On Saturday I pretty much spent the day cleaning, which was romantic... well, maybe not romantic, but I clean to show I care!

We aren't generally very in to Valentines Day, but it is nice to have an excuse to do something a bit special, even if it is just order pizza and watch a movie. This year I made (well, made is a strong word, I bought a kit!) crispy aromatic duck, which was a little too remeniscent of Bill Bailey's Love Song for my liking, but it was tasty!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Uniqlo

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I went to Westfield at the weekend to buy James some new shoes, and ended up wandering into Uniqlo where they had all their new collections in. Uniqlo is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to shop. The quality is good, the prices are excellent, and I love the mix of classic basics but also the limited edition collections of more unique items. 

Alas they didn't have any of the Ines de la Fressange collection I have been coveting (it's online and in the Oxford Street branch only) but I picked up two tops - both very nautical themed. I have been looking for a red Breton top for a while to add to my stripes collection, and this is perfect. The material is thick and feels great quality, and the cut is really nice. The second top is from the Thomas Paul collection, which has some awesome graphic print tees. The whale print jumped out at me immediately, although it is way too cold at the moment to wear it without a million cardigans on top!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Sunday Brunch

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A Sunday brunch of leftovers - toast with poached egg, avocado and goats cheese. I've never been one for a big Sunday lunch, or a breakfast fry up. Not that I am particularly self-righteous when it comes to food, I just am more of a grazer than a big meal person. Unless someone else is cooking I like to keep things simple and speedy.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A picture of the week

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The blog was feeling a bit lacking in cat photos this month, so I had to make up for that :) Here's Emmy looking regal and getting fluff all over my white bedspread. Excellent.

This weekend's been a fairly busy one, Reda came over on Friday night and cooked penne arrabbiata, but both she and James thought the other one hadn't added any chili flakes and so we ended up with a sauce that set my mouth on fire! Thankfully we had Eton mess ready for dessert with her homemade meringues to cool things down!

Then on Saturday my sister came over in the morning, we popped to Westfield to pick up some shoes for James and a sneaky Nandos trip, and then in the evening we went to see Kingsman with my parents.

Today is thankfully a bit quieter by contrast - time to get the house in order, do washing and make packed lunches for the week.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Alexander House Hotel

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As I mentioned on Sunday James and I took a brief but wonderful trip to a spa this weekend. James had never been to a spa, and I have only been to Bath Spa on my friend Kate's hen do, so it was a very new experience for both of us.

The trip was a Christmas present from my parents, so we had a set budget to play with and were looking for somewhere within easy distance from London and offering a decent package deal. In the end we plumped for the Alexander House Hotel in Sussex, which was offering an overnight stay, dinner and breakfast, along with access to the spa and a treatment each. Oh and champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries upon arrival. It wasn't a cheap trip by any means, but I felt like when you add up all the individual components you are getting your money's worth.

On top of that we were made to feel so special and welcome, it was just the perfect little trip away. Upon arrival our bags were whisked away, and we were told we had a complementary upgrade from the classic room we had booked to a junior suite! That sort of thing never happens to me, so I was feeling pretty jammy before I even got past reception! The suite was pretty huge, with the biggest double bed I have ever slept in, and the staff really did everything to make you feel comfortable and at home. There were fires burning in all the lounges and I felt so warm and cozy the whole time. Considering I have perpetual cold feet that was pretty impressive for me!

The spa itself was lovely - my favourite bit was the outdoor hot tub even in the current freezing weather! We both went for a full body massage for our treatment, which was the first time I have ever had a massage and it was lovely. I was a bit apprehensive going in, thinking 'what do I do?' 'what do I wear?' 'what if it hurts?' but it was nothing to be scared about. My Masseuse took me through what she would do, and what to wear (knickers!) and the 55 minutes passed in a flash. I also read Olly Mann's spa virgin's guide to massage which was very informative!

Initially I was a bit worried about whether I would get bored doing nothing but relaxing for 24 hours, but I could easily have stayed for a week! I am a total spa convert.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Lazy Sunday Links

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1. Love this idea for a mac and cheese party! 2. This glimpse into a vintage home is so gorgeous 3. This photoshoot is dreamy 4. And ts houseboat looks amazing, although I can't help but wonder about the dusting it must require! 5. Bri's closet makeover is fab - so organised! 6. This house looks so peaceful.

It's been a bit of a bad week - I spent two days in bed so sick. I always get ill around this time of year - I think my body is saying enough winter now, lets stay in bed til Spring. Luckily I made it back to work on Friday, to clear out my inbox (78 unread emails, urgh!), as I'm having a long weekend this weekend, as James and I are off to a spa this afternoon! 

I have been to a spa once before, and James never, so this is a fairly new experience for us - I will report back! I think James is probably more excited than I am. We got a good deal, and it seemed like the perfect end of January treat. I just hope the snow that's been making its way across the country doesn't spoil our fun! We got a little dusting this morning but not too much so fingers crossed the trains are all still running and we can make it there (and back!) ok.