Santiago almond cake recipe...

Cake will always be a firm favourite chez Fallon and this delicious almond cake is the latest addition to my (limited) repertoire. My friend had a 'countries stereotypes' fancy party for her birthday a few weeks ago and I went as Spain so took along this (supposedly) Spanish cake as my contribution- along with the ingredients for this lethal, yet delicious, pomelo fizz. I'm not 100% sure this cake came out as it was supposed to as I found this recipe quite confusing but we muddled through and we rewarded by a light and zesty sponge which went down a treat with everyone, even with people who don't like almonds!

Grecian glamour...

It seems like a long time ago now but I had a couple of days off a few weeks ago which coincided with the nice weather we were having. I have to say, there's nothing better than being a lady of leisure, especially in the week. It always feels like you are bunking off when you are wandering around a blissfully empty town haha! This dress was a bargain £5 in the Warehouse sale last year and I have been wanting to wear it for ages- thank goodness the weather played ball! You know how much I love maxis and this one is lovely. It is made from a lovely heavy jersey material and drapes really nicely. Cobalt blue is one of my favourite colours and is one of those that looks good on everyone as it is just so cheery! I felt really glamourous in this outfit and although I was just doing my shopping (Tesco has never looked so glam!) there's something about getting dressed up that puts a real spring in your step! 

Dress: Warehouse, shoes: New Look, bracelet: Accessorize
Apologies for the pose-y photo but I love the back on this so much! It also stopped the straps on the dress slipping down my shoulders which I really liked, there's nothing worse than having to constantly hoick stuff up! I went for fairly neutral make-up here, mixing the Nars Orgasm illuminator with my beloved Dr Jart BB cream for a natural glowy finish. Lipstick-wise I wore Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipstick in Pink Brandy- it is just such a lovely peach colour!

I really love this bracelet and it was perfect for tying together the outfit without looking like I was wearing a costume. I don't usually wear gold jewellery (unless it is pale gold in colour) as it can look odd on me but I think the warmness of it here makes the whole outfit feel more summery

I did feel a little (read very) silly posing like this but I felt super slinky in the dress and I wanted my Angelina moment! ;) I rediscovered these wedges in the bottom of my wardrobe last year and they were the perfect match for this outfit. The wedge is comfy enough to wear all day (assuming that the straps don't rub your feet, sob!) and they added some much needed height. I'm not very tall so maxis are pretty long on me so I do need a helping hand sometimes, haha!

What is your most glamourous outfit?


Tips for starting a new job...

As you may have seen (!) I have just started a new job and although it has been a bit of a whirlwind so far, I thought sharing some hints and tips might be useful to anyone starting somewhere new. I was at my last job for 3 years so it has been a while since I was a newbie and I was in a right tizz last Monday! I thought I would share my tips for starting a new job and my thought processes for them. Please bear in mind that this is only my experience and one working in a fairly smart office so please be led by your company's guidelines!

Left- dress: Oasis, shoes: Marks & Spencer, middle- top: Warehouse, trousers: ASOS, shoes: French Sole c/o Spartoo, right- dress: Sainsbury's, shoes: c/o Tesco

* Wear an old favourite on your first day- you need to look professional but feeling comfortable is so important! Originally I was going to wear trousers but I always feel more comfortable in a dress so I went for a navy Tesco dress (which sadly I didn't manage to get pictures of). I am contradicting myself slightly here as I only bought this dress in the charity shop a few weeks ago but both the colour and shape felt classic Maria so it was hardly out of my comfort zone! So far I have worn my smarter dresses and trousers with blouses rather than t-shirts and have only had positive feedback which is good!

* Be led by your colleagues on dress code- this will save any embarrassment, for example I found out on day one that jeans were a big no no (except on dress down Fridays) so I had to mentally revise some planned outfits as a result. I did find out that brightly coloured hair was OK though so that gave me some food for thought ;) This also means that you won't go out and spend unnecessary money on clothes that won't be suitable, whilst giving you an excuse to buy 'stuff for work'!

* Neutral make-up is key for your first few days. I am a massive fan of bright lipsticks but my first day was probably not the time to be worrying about whether it needs reapplying or if I have smudged it. I went for soft peachy lipstick and kept the rest pretty simple. You want people to remember your face, not just your make-up! Now I am in week 2 I feel a lot more comfortable and I am back to my usual colourful self!

* Wear comfy shoes- you will be introduced to a lot of people and probably shown round the office. I have done a lot of walking this week so have been wearing flat shoes to save my poor battered feet. It is only a mile or so each way but I may have to become one of those people who wears trainers to walk in and just change my shoes at work instead...

* Get a floor plan- this is really helpful when trying to learn people's names and also means you don't have to wander around awkwardly trying to find the toilets...

* Take plasters, paracetamol etc. but don't overpack your bag- I am very accident prone so being prepared is key but there is nothing worse than having to heft a huge bag around, especially on an unfamiliar commute!

* Take in a water bottle- this at least means you can stay hydrated until you know what the situation is on tea and coffee. There's nothing worse than having a dry scratchy throat, especially as you will be doing a lot of talking.

* Food- luckily my diabetes means I have an excuse for carting around so much food (ahem) but I can guarantee that you will be absolutely starving. Nerves and adrenaline are a lethal combination and if you're anything like me, you will be ravenous by 10 o' clock so making sure you have a bag filled with food is always a good idea...

* Take a notebook and a pen in with you- I took the one which I had used for interview prep and was able to refamiliarize myself with all the notes I had made previously, whilst waiting for people to arrive etc. It gave me something to focus on and I felt slightly less out of my depth as a result.

* Bring something to do- Until you know what the deal is with your training schedule and lunch tomes, it is probably best to not go wandering off at lunchtime. I normally have a book or something to do in my bag and so far I have read The Talented Mr Ripley in my lunch break and have nearly finished The Secret History so far. I never seem to get much reading done at home so my desk is an ideal spot to catch up on my 'to read' list...

* Chewing gum- this is pretty self explanatory but I am always super paranoid about my breath, especially if I am meeting lots of new people.

*Take up opportunities to make friends- I am super shy when I meet new people and being the newbie is always hard, especially when you are moving into a close knit team but I have found that gestures like going out for lunch or offering to make tea or coffee will go a long way towards endearing you to your new colleagues. Obviously you are all lovely people but it doesn't hurt to remind people of this! ;)

* Ask lots of questions- you may feel awkward about it but it is better than going wrong and having to explain that to your new boss or team. They will want to help you and you can get away with pestering people a lot more easily in the first few weeks!

* Write everything down: I am a keen note-taker anyway but your induction means taking in a lot of information and having things written down makes it a lot easier to go back over them when you have time.

* Don't be afraid to push for training or to be included in meetings- when you are new, people can forget to include you in an an email or add your name to a list. I gave found that being perky and inviting myself along to things I think are relevant or helpful for my job has been really useful and things have slotted into place a lot quicker.Being pushy can be hard but it saves scrabbling to catch up later!

* Give yourself time to get used to the change- moving jobs is a big deal and you will probably be massively overtired and emotional for your first few weeks. Make sure you take care of yourself and don't beat yourself up if you haven't got your routine settled yet. I am not ashamed to say that ready meals and chippy runs have kept me going this past fortnight along with long showers and plenty of early nights...

* Sort out your routine- I am someone who thrives on structure in their life so finding a new morning routine has been important, if a little tricky. I found that the easiest way to do it was work out how long it would take me to get to work, and then work backwards to see how long I needed to get ready in the morning. It's not quite set in stone yet, but I'm getting there!

Hopefully this is slightly helpful for people, please do let me know if you have any other questions and I will do my best to answer them!

Seersucker stripes and Liberty print...

Long time readers will know just how little I enjoy summer. I am always warm and comfort can be hard to find when the temperature keeps rising but this cute seersucker striped dress is one of my favourite things to wear in the heat. I would usually wear heels with this but for some reason I woke up wanting to dig out my Keds. Don't ask me why, I guess style inspiration comes from some very odd places and I must have seen something, somewhere to trigger this, maybe the tennis?! I look slightly crumpled here but this outfit put a real spring in my step- and not just because of the bouncy soles!;)

Dress: H&M, camisole: Tesco, tights: Tesco, shoes: Keds c/o Spartoo
This dress is pretty indecent without a camisole under it but luckily I have several of these cotton ones which I picked up in Tesco. They are invaluable for outfits like this and don't add too much extra warmth or bulk (always an issue when you are the human radiator!) This Bourjois lipstick is one of my favourites and brightened up my face perfectly. My berry lipstain would have been a better match but it is nowhere near as fun! I hate the fact that it doesn't match my nails but nobody has time to paint them to match every day, amirite?

I didn't realise how crumpled this dress was until I saw these pictures, oops! I guess it just adds to the casual vibe I was aiming for, let's just pretend it was deliberate rather than me just being a slob, haha!

I know Keds aren't everyone's cup of tea but I really love mine. The Liberty print on this pair is gorgeous and although I'm not really a trainers kinda gal, they have to be some of my favourite shoes. I really want a pair of the Kate Spade ones, I just don't know which sparkly pair to go for first!

What's your failsafe summer outfit?

Sunshine yellow (or when I dressed like an egg yolk) ...

I thought I would resume normal scheduling (hopefully) with this bright outfit which I wore a few weekends ago in the blazing sunshine. Isn't it cheery?! It was (another) Gap sale purchase and it is the perfect outfit for this humid weather. This was potentially a horrendous outfit for me as bright yellow usually doesn't suit me but I loved the dress so much that I couldn't leave it behind - even if I do look like I'm dressed like an egg yolk, haha! Certain outfits are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and this is definitely one of them! The straps on this dress make it look slightly like a tabard but they are flattering, even if  I look like a member of the von Trapp family ;)

Dress: Gap, sandals: c/o George at ASDA
I have been using macadamia oil on my hair again recently, the summer sun always frazzles my hair but a couple of drops of this help to smooth the frizz and improve the condition. I try not to wear make-up in the sunshine (nothing worse than it melting down your face!) but a swipe of blusher and a neutral red (is there such a thing?!) make me feel slightly less naked. 

My favourite thing about this dress is that it has pockets! What more could you ask for in a dress?! I spotted this bracelet in the Accessorize sale and although I usually find jewellery too fussy to wear all day, this one doesn't clank on my desk (always a win!) and its neutral tones mean it goes with anything- not bad for a few quid!

I love a swooshy skirt and this one is super fun, especially paired with these gorgeous sandals, I was skipping all the way to the park, haha!

Which colours do you find tricky to wear?

Be right back (hopefully!) ...

I just wanted to thank you all for your lovely messages of support and for your patience since starting my new job. Obviously I am still in the midst of my first week and although it is (understandably) manic and sometimes overwhelming, I am loving it so far. I have found this week a bit of a whirlwind and I haven't quite got my routine down pat yet, but once I do, I hope that normal service will be resumed! I was also thinking about writing a post (or two!) about starting a new job, so let me know if this is something that you would find interesting and/or useful !

Hopefully be back soon!


The perfect bikini...

This post contains a bikini that was sent for review

Buying a bikini can be stressful, especially if you are not a standard size or a consistent size on top and bottom. I love my red ASOS bikini but it needs just a few tweaks to be perfect. Luckily Surania have come to the rescue with their custom bikini maker where you can choose the style and fabric you want and then choose your size to get a perfectly fitting bikini or swimsuit. I'll be honest, I had never heard of them before they got in contact but as soon as I saw their offering, I fell in love and have been raving about it to anyone and everyone ever since. When I ordered mine, I had a lot of fun going through the different fabrics and styles, finally opting for the balconette top and high waisted bottoms. The whole process is pretty easy and best of all is super fun, I could (and did) spend hours on here trying to decide what to go for!

I like the fact that there are lots of different shapes to choose from, I prefer quite a retro look but I imagine that there is something to suit pretty much everyone's taste. The best part though is that fact that you can enter your own measurements and have something that you know will fit you like a glove. For instance, I have an 8 inch difference between my waist and hips which usually means that clothes fit one but not the other but this arrived and it fits perfectly!  The regular sizing goes up to 90-93 cm but the custom sizing allows bust, waist, and hips from 70cm up to 200cm. Still not every size but a hell of a lot more inclusive than your average swimsuit shop!

The fact it has 'Maria's measurements' as an example swung it for me! ;)

Bikini: c/o Surania
It came pretty quickly once I had ordered it (I think it was with me in about a week and a half, two weeks) which considering that they are making it from scratch, is pretty impressive! I was a little dubious about what it would look like but I couldn't have been happier. The material is sturdy and it feels like a really high quality product. 

I just love the little ruffle on the top- isn't it the cutest?!

Mark and I decided to head to our local lido to test it out properly and I spent a lovely morning swimming (badly), eating ice creams, sunning myself and enjoying The Knockoff, (my latest trashy read) in the sunshine. It was just what I needed to relax and I will definitely be back, I love that there is somewhere like this so close to home! We did get a couple of strange looks when Mark was snapping these photos but I wanted to try the bikini out properly and share some pictures of it actually being worn as I think it can be difficult to visualise what it looks like on otherwise...

Honestly, I felt like a million dollars in this, it fits me perfectly and that gave me all the extra confidence I needed to put a real spring in my step. The print is awesome and paired with the shape I felt like a 1950s pin up, never a bad thing in my opinion! 

Body confidence is a strange thing and although I hardly have an unusual shaped body, I hated it when I was growing up. It all came to a head for me when I saw a family of photo of me, on holiday when I must have been about 15 and I am hiding behind everyone else because I hated how I looked in a bikini. Fast forward ten years and although there are always things I would like to change (like the scars on my tummy from my cannulas) this body of mine is pretty darned awesome. It has been through a lot over the years and this photo of me just brought home how far I have come, no more hiding behind anyone else but revelling in how good I look and feel in a bikini and spending a day just enjoying myself. These photos aren't the best quality as it was so  bright but trust me when I say that I will always love them because I look and feel so alive and isn't that what summer is all about?! 


P.S. I was sent a voucher to order a bikini to review but if I didn't love it, I wouldn't feature it!

Date nights and decision making...

Thank you for all of your lovely messages on my last post, making big decisions and changes can be overwhelming (understatement of the century!) but I am really excited to see what the future has to hold! As soon as my initial wave of enthusiasm subsided, my first thought was what on earth do I wear?! I didn't get much of a chance to scope out the office when I was in for my interview but that hasn't stopped me picking up (more than) a few pieces for my new working wardrobe! ;) I spotted this top in the Dorothy Perkins sale and although I have tried not to wear any of it before I start (it gives me something to look forward to!) this was the basis of a perfect date night look to celebrate. We had a pretty early dinner so I didn't want anything too fancy so jeans and a top were ideal. I really love the length of this top, it is super flattering and I feel really tall when I wear it which is never a bad thing! I have to say that Dorothy Perkins is not a shop I think to look in regularly but having a browse reminded me how good their clothes are, especially for work and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more bargains...

Top: Dorothy Perkins, jacket: c/o George at ASDA, jeans: ASOS, shoes:Marks & Spencer
Smoky eyes always make me feel dressed up but they can feel a bit 'much' when it is still light outside so I stuck to a swipe of liquid eyeliner instead. Max Factor's Glide & Define liquid eyeliner seems to be the only one that works on me but I would love to hear your recommendations. I'm (still) a novice but it's definitely something I want to finally master this year! 'Julianne's nude' by L'Oreal is another of my make-up favourites. It never photographs very well but it is pretty peachy on me and is perfect for when you want a subtle colour that won't vie for attention with your other make-up. 

The top had a waist belt included but I can't ever get that type of belt fastening (double D-ring FYI) to work so I ended up knotting it instead- much less faff! This gorgeous burgundy nail varnish is the 'Die Another Day' shade from the Opi 'Get Bonded collection' which I recently rediscovered in my vast collection. I thought a break from my beloved Essie shades was well overdue! ;)

Which is your favourite liquid eyeliner? What do you wear on date night?

Changing lanes...

Yes, it's another day, another printed navy dress worn here at Frills 'n' Spills HQ! Dresses will always be my favourite thing to wear, mainly because they are just so easy to throw on in the morning and this one is a worthy addition to my wardrobe. It is another Sainsbury's bargain and I absolutely love it, the jersey's super flattering and the print is just to die for: it has the cutest illustrations of buildings and dogs on! Apologies for the dearth of posts recently, you may have seen that I have a new job (eek!) and things have been pretty manic here. I start my new job a week on Monday and I'm excited and terrified in equal measure. I don't know what my new routine is going to look like but hopefully I will still be able to snap outfit pictures and fit in some blogging! Change is always nerve-wracking but it is definitely the right decision for me, I am just anxious to get started so I can stop worrying about it, haha!

Dress:Tu at Sainsbury's, belt: Sainsbury's, shoes: Marks & Spencer outlet
MAC Lady Danger is a gorgeous orange-y red and although it's not subtle, it is super fun and it matched my outfit so perfectly- what more can you ask for?! I look particularly pale in these pictures, but that's the joy of wearing factor 50 every day! I got this ace Eucerin sun fluid mattifying lotion in my Glamour beauty box and I really love it. My family is prone to skin cancer (and I have already had one mole removed) so anything that makes protecting my skin easier is a winner in my book!

I really love the print of this dress, cute illustrations of pretty buildings and cute dogs will always float my boat! You know I can't resist a belt (I am worse than Gok Wan in that respect!) and this red patent one is lovely. Paired with Essie Russian Roulette shade this outfit felt quite retro without looking costume-y (I hope!)

I picked up these orange-y red suede shoes when I went to the Gloucester Quays outlet back in April and although I have only worn them a few times so far, I really love them. Little pumps with block heels like this are so comfy for everyday wear and I would have them in every colour if I could!

Any advice for calming my nerves?