Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My #simplybereal moment...

Illustration by the lovely Alison Hansen
You may have seen that Simply Be have been asking bloggers to share their 'real moments'- those times where life doesn't go as planned and have turned them into personalised illustrations. You can see mine (by the very talented Alison Hansen) above, isn't it ace?! I recently bought yet another red dress (it was called Maria, how could I resist?!) and I was trying to smuggle it into my wardrobe without Mark noticing but my plan was foiled when an avalanche of clothes fell on top of me, making a huge noise in the process. They asked for my favourite outfit to illustrate and although it was difficult to narrow down, this little lacy dress is a firm favourite, whatever I am doing!

This was such a fun campaign to be involved in and I loved seeing all of the other illustrations- definitely check the #simplybereal hashtag out on Twitter! 

P.S. Simply Be commissioned this illustration for me but I received no payment for this post.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Vegetarian pea and cheese fritters recipe...

You all know how much I love Leon, their recipes are brilliant and ever since I got their Fast Vegetarian cookbook Mark and I have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  I was a little dubious about these pea and cheese fritters before I cooked them but I needn't have worried, these were delicious. We have incorporated these into our weekly eats as they are so quick and easy to do and I cannot be faffed with fussy or long-winded meals in the week! The recipe said it should make about 6 fritters but we had about 20 in the end and I could only manage 3 before I was full so we will be halving or quartering the quantities next time we make them...

Friday, 5 December 2014

Dark days and nights...


As you may have noticed, I have been  blogging a lot less recently and that is partly due to the change in seasons (winter is not a blogger's best friend) and partly because I have been feeling more than a little overwhelmed recently. There's been nothing specific that has triggered this, it's just that life seems to have sped up whilst my energy levels have dropped. Quite frankly I haven't had the energy to keep up with the relentless process of photograph, write, promote, repeat and blogging has suffered as a result. Last night, this all came to a head (cue me bursting into tears) so Mark and I decided to go for a walk and spent about an hour and a half wandering around Cheltenham, making plans and talking through everything, which despite everything was actually really nice. 

In order to try and get a handle on everything again, we decided to draw up an evening schedule for in the week in order to allow time together going for walks and exploring the lovely place we live in and also some 'self care' time (Rosie's post on this is brilliant and really struck a chord with me) which could be anything from reading, blogging or even having a bath. I think I have always been torn between missing out on things and wanting to make the most of any free time we have but at what cost? I have been feeling very overwhelmed for a long time and I was physically and emotionally exhausted last night but I slept through the night for the first time in a long time. Isn't it amazing what a bit of fresh air and a good chat can do?

I don't know quite what this post is trying to say really, I guess I just wanted to get some of the muddled thoughts out of my head onto the page. Life is never easy but it has been harder than usual recently so please do bear with me whilst I get my head back on track... I would also love to hear about anything that has helped you when you have been feeling anxious or stressed too, please do share!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lemon yellow...

I seem to be saying this a lot recently but apologies for the rubbish photos! I bought this gorgeous lemon yellow jumper a few days after my birthday and have worn it so often- it is just so darned cosy! The office is always freezing first thing in a Monday morning so a cosy knit is essential. I usually go for deeper jewel colours in the winter but maybe I can make wintry pastels a regular feature in my wardrobe again? The jumper is quite a feature on its own so I decided to keep the rest of my outfit fairly simple. I am guilty of often over-complicating things but hopefully I have managed to pare back my worst tendencies recently!

Jumper: Topshop, necklace: Accessorize, top: H&M, jeans: Warehouse, shoes: Clarks
The jumper is so deliciously cosy and is the perfect accompaniment to my current favourite necklace. As always, I am loving coral toned make-up, I bought a mini Benefit set from Boots which had a mini Coralista blusher and although I go through phases with how much I like the colour, I do wear it a lot. It is pretty subtle and adds a healthy glow to my everyday make-up but I can build it up if I want something more intense. I probably won't shell out for the full size one though, I have my eye on the Majorette blusher instead! I know I have raved about Percy & Reed's Wonder Balm before but it really is such a good product for my hair- fellow curly and wavy haired girls take note!

I was so chuffed when I found these Clarks grey shoeboots when we moved. They are ridiculously comfy to wear thanks to their slim wedge heel. Paired with my Warehouse skinny jeans they make me look much taller too which is never a bad thing! This is probably the closest match to the real colour of the jumper, I will have to take some proper pictures of it at some point!

Are you a fan of pastels?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A flying visit to Manchester....(PICTURE HEAVY...)

It's been a shamefully long time since Mark and I last visited Manchester but we headed up at the weekend to catch up with Mark's brother and pay a flying visit to one of  our favourite cities. You can see just how excited we were by these photos, we both really love Manchester and could happily live there, we did see some lovely flats too, I just need to find a job up there! 

Wearing my Seasalt coat (necessary for the rain!), H&M striped top and Mac Impassioned lipstick. 

Manchester Central Library is awesome and I could have spent all day in there, how beautiful are those windows?!

We also made a brief stop in Chinatown to try and find some Chinese figs but to no avail :( I love this archway though, the colours are gorgeous!

Takk Manchester is a super cool Icelandic inspired coffee bar/restaurant in the Northern Quarter where I felt very uncool, this was hipster inspired dining at its best! ;)

This amazing mural was by Nicholas Chaffe (@nickchaffe) and I absolutely love it. There are so many little details in it and I keep noticing new things every time I look at it. Now I just want one of my own! 

OK, so the food and drink at Takk was amazing! I had the avocado, bacon and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread with a flat white (check out the genuine graffiti-covered school desks! ) which was absolutely delicious. Mark had roast potatoes, shallots and pan-fried chorizo with scrambled eggs and sourdough which I was super jealous of! 

The graffiti was amazing, I especially loved this beautiful vine and bird one on the side of this youth hostel- isn't it gorgeous?!

This was the first time I had visited the Northern Quarter and I loved it- the rickety fire escapes and quirky shops felt very Brooklyn to me, I may have to pay another visit to keep my New York cravings at bay!

The Museum of Science & Industry/MOSI was super fun and although we spent the entire afternoon there, there was still a lot that we didn't manage to cover so a full day (or two!) would be needed to do this justice I think! 

We saw a replica of the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) a.k.a. the Manchester 'Baby' computer which was very cool...

The exhibits on Manchester's textile industry were so interesting, just look how complex this machines look!

I mean wowee! 

This thistledown coat was super cool- a must have for every fashion blogger I think ;)

They also had an exhibition on 3D printing which was brilliant, I loved how brightly coloured these all were!

These are 3D-printed frames of an animation of a bear climbing some stairs, they don't look like much here but quite something 'in action'. 

My little brother was always a fan of Bob the Builder when he was little and these were the original models they used in the show (before they remade it!)

A very cool cine camera, I love the Italian stickers on the case!

The forst all-metal printing press was invented by the Earl of Stanhope, this one was made sometime between 1810 and 1830...

The museum also houses the world's oldest oldest passenger station, originally known as the Coach Offices. Built between June and September 1830, the Coach Offices consisted of separate booking halls for first-class and second-class passengers on the ground floor. I get the feeling that Gemma will appreciate these pictures, that gal loves a good train! ;)

The steam train still pulls a little carriage around the track which looked super fun but we didn't get chance to go on it which was a shame, maybe next time!

More cool murals...

I love the contrast of the old buildings and the uber modern Beetham Tower, that is one shiny building!

This is an awful picture but it was an amazing pie! We went to Pi in Chorlton for dinner after a long day walking around town and it was the perfect finish. I am now a fully fledged Pieminster pie fan (this was the Shamrock) I just need to get my hands on some more to try...

We went to the North Star deli in Chorlton for brunch before heading back on Sunday morning, the perfect finish to a wonderful weekend! 

Where should I try next in Manchester?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Leon chilli con carne recipe...

Chilli con carne is a meal that I absolutely love but have never made from scratch before. I don't know why I was so hesitant up till now but once I saw this recipe in the Little Leon: One Pot recipe book (a very lovely birthday present) I decided that I would give it a go! This was the perfect thing to make on a Sunday afternoon and luckily it makes enough that you can have it for dinner on Monday too. We served it with rice but it is also delicious in pitta breads...

* 1½ carrots
* 1 onion
* 2 cloves of garlic
* 1 stick of celery
* 1½ tablespoons of olive oil
* 500g of minced beef
* 1½ bay leaves
* 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
* ½ of oregano
* 3 tablespoons of tomato puree
* 600g of chopped tomatoes (1½ tins)
* 1 tablespoon of paprika
* 1½ teaspoons of cayenne pepper
* 50 ml of malt vinegar
* 1 x 400g tin of drained kidney beans
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and quarter the carrots and onions and put in a food processor. Add the peeled garlic and celery and blitz until it is finely chopped. 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the blitzed vegetables and fry over a gentle heat until the vegetables have softened.

Add the minced beef and cook for 10 minutes or until browned. Add the malt vinegar...

... mixed spices...

...and the rest of the ingredients. I'm not sure why the chopped tomatoes look so neon, they were a normal colour in real life!

Cook for 2 hours on the hob (realistically this was more like just over an hour), uncovered, stirring occasionally. Add water to prevent it drying out (if necessary)

Serve with rice and enjoy!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The perfect going out dress...

Going out is always a tricky thing, I love going out and dancing till my legs are sore but staying up late has always been a problem for me (I am tucked up in bed by half nine most nights!) Recently though I have been to a couple of shindigs (showing my age there!) and this dress is usually the first option on my list. I'm never 100% comfortable in anything too revealing but at the same time I am always far too warm so this sleeveless drapey dress from Whistles is the perfect compromise, It's fitted but not too bodycon and is long enough that I can wave my arms around with wild abandon when dancing without any fear of flashing! The colour is ace, described as airforce grey, it is actually a gunmetal blue (is that even a thing?!) and is a colour that seems to suit everyone. I love the fact that it is equally at home whether it is being worn to a pub, a house party or even a club- this dress truly is something special! 

Dress: Whistles, necklace: French Connection, shoes: Marks & Spencer
Luckily it doesn't need much accessorising (if any) and this simple geometric necklace is subtle enough to add interest without being overpowering. My hair had a lot of volume the evening I wore this so rather than trying to fight it, I went with the flow and ended up with some pretty eighties inspired make-up too.  I paired some bronze, gold and navy eyeshadow with my Soap and Glory Solar Power bronzer which I have a love hate relationship with. It looks fairly natural on my pale skin in real life but photographs really badly which is not cool... Paired with my Revlon lip butter in 'Peach Parfait', I was ready to roll. I love a string lipstick for the evening but it always seems to wear off pretty quickly and I am in no fit state to reapply it precisely so I tend to go for strong eyes instead- the more lived in they look, the better, I think!

I can't be dealing with walking for miles in high heels and as I was going from a house part, into town, I plumped for this M&S pair instead. Again, nothing ground-breaking but still fun to wear (and really comfy too!) You can get a better look at the nipped in waistline and pockets (!!) here too, they are only minor details but make a world of difference to the fit of the dress. I know I am gushing but Whistles really can do no wrong in my eyes recently, especially when they are making such beautiful dresses!

What's your failsafe outfit for a night out? 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Leopard print kilt...

So my new-found love for leopard print has spiralled into a full blown obsession thanks to this beautiful leopard print kilt from Sainsbury's (they really do have some lovely skirts in at the moment!) I spotted it online but my local store didn't have it and I had nearly given up until the lovely Emma managed to track it down and post it to me- thank you internet! I have worn the skirt a few times before with my black cowl neck jumper but I actually prefer it with this thin khaki/taupe knit, it looks much more interesting and plays into my luxe/fun wardrobe split. This is the kind of outfit I will wear all winter long, with a coat and gloves all of my extremities are covered but it has enough thin layers to cope with the heat blazing from all the shops. I know it's a controversial topic but surely an ambient temperature of 20-odd degrees is better than extreme heat and cold? 

Jumper: Kookai, top: Primark, skirt: Sainsbury's, tights: Tesco, boots: Nine West
This jumper doesn't get as much love as it should, it is lovely and warm but doesn't add unnecessary bulk under a coat. Perhaps its the colour that makes it one of the last things I reach for in my wardrobe, taupe doesn't exactly scream fun! ;) My hair is not a fan of the colder weather- the dampness in the air can make my hair quite frizzy but Percy & Reed's Wonder Balm is my favourite product at the moment, there's nothing it can't fix! Whilst I love darker, more Autumnal shades, it was the Essie Russian Roulette shade I went for from my new 'ravishingly rouge' set, you can't beat a classic red lips and nails combo! This lipstick is much brighter in real life but didn't photograph very well which is a shame, it is one of my best beauty bargains to date at a measly £2!

I really like the length of this skirt and although it looks very crinkly here, the asymmetrical zip is a really fun design feature. I really love these boots, I did think I was going to have to send them to the big shoebox in the sky (sob) but luckily my local cobbler is a genius and managed to resole them and make them look as good as new. There's something wonderful about boots that have been battered beyond belief, they are just so darned comfy!

Which are the pieces that (nearly) got away from you?


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