Friday, 7 February 2014

#AccessAllASOS - I'm an Insider!


Hello dear readers! Well it has been a while and I must apologise for my 2 month absence. I will explain all another time because I want to keep this post lovely and positive, but for now let me just I am very sorry and also hugely happy to be back! Lots of excited news to share with you all, starting with #AccessAllASOS.

Yep that's right, I have successfully become an ASOS Insider!! eee! Apologies also for the rather excessive use of explanation marks in this post - but sometimes nothing else will do and I am so excited!!.. there I go again. Anywho, back to the story - so about two weeks ago I received a lovely email from the guys and gals of ASOS informing me that the application I had completed a month or so before had been successful. Naturally there was a little happy dance involved and the proud relay of events to my brother, who strangely was not that interested.. weird!

A few days later, look what had arrived in my post box:


There is something completely wonderful about receiving surprise post. I always experience a frisson of utter joy when anything lands in the post box with my name on it. Hard to explain but probably stems from feeling so grown up when I received my first bank statement (and piece of post like ever) aged 8. Silly but, hey it's all about the small things in life!


So those lovely people at ASOS had picked up on my love of all things shiny and gave me this rather smashing luggage tag. Brilliant timing actually because the following week I had a short trip coming up. Also included was this fab pin collar accessory that I will certainly be styling up my shirts with shortly. The fortune cookie was such a sweet (excuse the pun) touch and I loved being showered in star confetti.


I've been busy exploring the behind-the-scenes content which I now have access to, and will keep you all updated on this experience. First piece of exciting news reported - check! More to come soon.

What do you think? Are you an ASOS Insider? Do you want to be? Will you apply? Let me know!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas in a glass: Make your own Mulled Wine



Ok, it's now official, my Christmas festivities have now begun with my first-of-the-season glass of mulled wine. My confession: I didn't make it myself. Nope it was ready to use Co-op own brand left over from last year, but it was splendid! The warming, fruity/spicy goodness has put me in the best of moods, so much so that I am contemplating actually making my own this year! I know, I know, why bother when it's like £3 a bottle at the co-op and tastes so yummy? The most peculiar need to make everything myself has swept over me this year. Would you believe I have already made the Christmas cake, and am about to go and 'feed it' (read: drench in brandy) straight after this post?! Even more weirdly, I actually made the Candied Peal for it because Tesco had run out. Yep, 4/5 hours of boiling and draining fruit peel then covering the remains in sugar. Now that is dedication I can tell you. I even saved the syrup to use in something else! Honestly I don't know what as got into me, but it's like I have been let into a big, completely wonderful secret. I've always enjoyed the odd spot of baking, but this is on another level. My prediction? This Christmas my family will be overrun by Santa shaped cookies, mince pies, Christmas cake and most other delicious delicacies that the lovely Delia has to offer. I can't wait!

So, to kick the season off, here is a lovely little recipe for Mulled Wine, which makes roughly 12 servings:

You will need:
  • 2 unwaxed oranges
  • The peel of 1 lemon
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 (bruised) cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 bottles of red wine
  • 150ml ginger wine
What to do:
  • Peel and juice 1 orange and add to a large saucepan with the lemon peek, sugar and spices. Add enough wine to just cover the sugar and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes until you have a thick syrup.
  • Turn the heat down and add both the ginger wine and the rest of the red. Gently head through then serve and enjoy!
Tip: If you don't want to use it all at once, allow some of the syrup to cool and pour into a bottle or jar to use later. 

However, if you can't be bothered with all this faff (frankly I don't blame you!) then either the mulled wine sachets or the ready-to-drink bottles do the job just as well.


So what do you think? Will you be giving the make-it-yourself approach a go? Are you excited for Christmas? Let me know! 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Recent Polish Purchases

Today I thought I would do a little round up of the recent addition to my nail polish collection, and talk you through which shades I am loving this season. First up (of course) is the Barry M Matte nail paint which I bought in 'Crush'. Having never tried a matte finish before I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised! The colour is great for me being a huge fan of red nails, because this is a lovely autumn-y (perhaps not a word!) burgundy sort of colour so will work well with basically all of my winter wardrobe.

(Sorry about the polish on the 'Blue Grape' bottle)


Next up is the Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine nail paint in 'Blue Grape'. Now I am totally obsessed with this colour right now. Physical restraints have been necessary to stop me buying practically every item in this colour recently. So a very budget friendly little pot of nail paint in this colour was an absolute must for me. 

When buying that gorgeous blue shade I was also drawn to the 'Watermelon' shade so picked that as well. I think this is a lovely tone for the colder months, and darker green shades are right on trend at the moment. As always the Barry M formula is great, lasting quite a long time with a decent top coat and at £3.99 (Superdrug) they are a budget friendly pick-me-up!



During my recent shopping excursions I came across this gorgeous Revlon Nail Enamel in 'Sparkling'. Not having many glitter polishes I thought I would give this a try (particularly as it was £2 off at the time) and boy am I glad I did! It's gorgeous! Lovely on it's own or over something like a deep red, its long lasting and gives good glitter coverages (some can be a little sparse). Very happy with this purchase!

Last but not least is this interesting Sinful Colours Professional bottle in 'call you later'. Now if I'm honest I didn't think a whole lot about this one. I was queueing in Boots and vaguely looking at the Sinful Colours Professional stand when it caught my eye. When I last tried this brand I was delighted by the quality (see here) and made a mental note to pick up a few more shades at some point. My excuse is I was in Halloween mode at the time (yep, little late in posting this one), and planned to attempt some themed nail art with this. It's certainly not a usual colour choice for me, but I'm gonna give it a go and see how it works out. I will report back if it goes well! 

So those are the recent additions to my polish collection. Now lets take a look at the colours I will definitely be wearing this season.

M&S Autograph Ultimate Wear Nail Colour in City Grey, Rimmel Kate Salon Pro in Soul Session, Barry M Matte Nail Paint in Crush and Gelly Hi Shine in Watermelon and Blue Grape, Revlon Nail Enamel in Sparkling, Sinful Colours Professional in Call You Later , Barry M Nail Paint in Holograms.

I really like this colour range - it's not too bright and spring-like but has some interesting tones to experiment with. However, knowing me and my love of polish I'm sure additions with me made soon!

What do you think of these colours? Tried any of them before? What's your winter palette looking like? let me know!

Judy's Vintage Fair Cambridge

On Saturday 23rd November I made my way to Judy's Vintage Fair in Cambridge. I have been wanting to go to one of these for years now, but for one reason or another I have never been able to make it when they are over my until now.

Despite arriving just after the opening time of 10am, a cue had already formed. Entrance was £2 and you could come and go as you liked as your hand was stamped after payment, which reminded me of primary school discos for some random reason!

(Photo sourced from Judy's Vintage Fair Facebook page as I stupidly forgot to take my camera. Huge apologies for that)
At first I was a little over whelmed by all of the racks and rails of clothing, but after diving straight in the thrill of trying to find that hidden gem because quite addictive. There were styles to suit everyone, from fur coats and glittery tops to woollen jumpers and denim shorts. After a while I did find the variety of items a little repetitive to be honest. Most stalls seemed to stock the same variety of items, however it was great fun exploring them all. There were some absolute gems, but also a fair chunk of tat mixed in. I think hardened vintage fair goers must develop a keen eye for sorting the good from the bad, but it all adds to the atmosphere. My favourite stalls were actually the jewellery tables, and although I sadly didn't by any, it was wonderful looking through it all. A vintage tea party affair had also been set up in one corner which looked very tempting and dainty.

(Photo again sourced from Judy's Vintage Fair Facebook page )


Purchase wise I was very strict with myself other wise I would have come home with far far to much! I spotted this faded red leather high waisted skater style skirt which fitted perfectly, and for £20 seemed reasonable. I was particularly taken with it because leather is quite in this season, but this piece just looked so different from what I have seen in the high street shops. Once I got the skirt home I gave it a clean with some anti-bacterial kitchen spray and spruced it up a little with some clear leather polish. It's been airing since as it smelt quite musty, but its looking a lot rosier so the elbow grease was worth it!



Leaving around 12 ish I spent the rest of the day browsing the shops in Cambridge, getting ideas for Christmas presents.

On 18th of January the fair is coming back to Cambridge to hold The January Sale. So if you want to grab a bargain it might be worth a visit! Judy's Vintage Fairs are held all over the country, so chances are there should be one near you in the upcoming months.

Have you been to one before? Are you thinking of going to one in the future? What do you think of this skirt I bought? Let me know!


Friday, 22 November 2013

Top 10 Feel Good Xmas Reads

Karen Swan: Christmas at Claridges and A Perfect Present, Carole Mathews: Calling Mrs Christmas, Fern Britten: Hidden Treasures, Ali Harris: Miracle on Regents Street, Amy Silver: One Minute to Midnight, Trisha Ashley: Twelve Days of Christmas, Annie Saunders: The Xmas Factor, Laura Lockington: Stargazy Pie, Sarah Morgan: Sleigh Bells in the Snow
Personally I love a fabulous feel good story, and have no guilt over the fact that happy, 'chic lit' type books make up the majority reading material now. Why would I want to depress myself reading sad, tragic or horror filled stories? It's not really my thing. My personal justification is that I had read all of Jane Austen before I reached year 8, and have since torchered my way through The Aeneid (Virgil), Homer's Odyssey and a good chunk of the ancient Greek and Roman texts (I wouldn't recommend it myself, it's very hard going but I dabbled in Classical Civilisations for a while, and took Ancient History A level). However really no justification should be needed!

There shouldn't be any guilt over reading books you enjoy, so here I have chosen my top 10 Christmas themed feel good novels, many of which I have enjoyed re-reading each December for several years now. There are at least 10 more that I could have mentioned, and obviously this doesn't include any of the classics such as Dickins' A Christmas Carol.

A special mention must go to Stargazy Pie by Laura Lockington. I simply love this book. Unfortunately I believe it's quite hard to get hold of now, but if you can I highly recommend doing so as it is a hilarious, wonderfully descriptive story which makes me laugh out loud every time (which is pretty good going given that I have re-read this at least 10 times, but probably more). As you can see below my copy looks very well used, but I think that adds to it's character! 

One minute to Midnight by Amy Silver is probably more suited to the run up to New Year, if you want to match the books precisely. I will warn you in advance that I did cry during parts of this, but overall I really enjoyed this book and it was quite thought provoking in a light, positive sort of way. Definitely worth a read, but only if you are prepared to shed a few tears! Or maybe I'm just a little too emotional!

As you can see I have included two Karen Swan novels. Her writing is gorgeous! I can't wait to pick up the rest of her books, especially as they are a good 400+ pages at least, which gives room a meatier, more interesting story line.

Have you read any of these before? What do you think? Do you like reading Christmasy novels? Let me know!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Christmas: The Alternative Gift Guide


As much as we all love giving and receiving presents, I often wonder if I should cast aside my materialistic instincts towards this wonderful holiday in favour of a more charitable or philanthropic option. When there is so much wrong with the world, and so many that have so little it seems hugely appropriate that if you were to be charitable, Christmas is the perfect time. So I did a bit of digging and found some inspiring options. I have broken them down into present categories to show the alternatives to each type of present:

Stocking Fillers (up to £10):
Full screen preview
Source = Oxfam media images
Medium gifts (up to £30):
  • Teach a Teacher = help train teacher to provide a better standard of education for £27
  • Sheep = a source of milk, wool and manure (fertiliser) for £25
  • Goat = produce milk to drink and sell, fertiliser for crops and kids to sell for £25
  • Five Chickens = eggs aid a nutritious diet and create extra money through trade for £18
Full screen preview
Source = Oxfam media images
Large gifts 
These are just a few of the options out there. A simple Google search produces hundreds of options. I haven't included any here, but there are also charities such as Children in Need and Red Nose Day which are always looking for donations. Maybe an alternative gift might be a donation in their name? Just something to think about :)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Christmas: Stocking fillers under £10

Well Christmas is approaching, so here are some really cute stocking filler ideas, all under £10. Houston, we have a problem... we might need a bigger stocking!

Topshop:

  1. Triangle chain tassle pendant £2.50
  2. Glitter Triangle Necklace £2.50
  3. Mini Lip Bullet £5
  4. Heart Initial S Midi Ring Pack £5.50
  5. Nail Art Brush Kit in Neon Pink £10
  6. Mini Nail in Magpie £5
  7. Snowflake Handwarmer £5.50
  8. Nails in Plume £6
  9. Teddy Print Purse £8
  10. Nail File Trio £5

ASOS:

  1. Happy Jackson Thoughts and Doodles of an Undiscovered genius large notebook £7
  2. Happy Jackson set of 3 cheerful notebooks £6
  3. Cath Kidson star lipgloss trio £7
  4. New Look Addicted to Shopping Coin Purse £3.99
  5. This Works The Dream Team Sleep Duo £10
  6. ASOS Snowman Mittens £10
  7. ASOS Travel Card Holder with Embossing £6
  8. ASOS iPhone 5 Case in Digital Paint Print £8
  9. Beauticology Mini Lip and Body Bath Set £5

Selfridges:
  1. Philosophy Old Fashion Eggnog lip shine £10
  2. Meri Meri Kraft Pen and Pencil notebook £2.95
  3. Meri Meri Stripy pink notebook £2.95
  4. Selfridges large Chocolate Coin £3.29
  5. Aromatherapy Associates little bell gift set £10
  6. Mustard Knitted Mug £8.95
  7. EOS pomegranate and raspberry lip balm £5.99]
  8. Cowshed Cracking Cow Christmas Cracker £10
  9. Paul and Joe Lipstick Case £5
  10. Happy Socks Zebra Print £8
What do you think? Anything catch your eye? Let me know!

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