Monday, 27 January 2014

The NEXT big thing

At work the other day I read an article written by one of our journalists about how the British High Street fared over the festive period. I don't know if you've noticed, but more and more retailers are starting their sales on the lead up to Christmas ahead of Boxing Day. However Next held off until the New Year - a strategy which paid off and as a result, they came out on top. Reportedly their sales were up 7.7 per cent and their online sales, up 21 per cent over the festive period. But having seen their key trends Christmas 2013 catwalk, this does not surprise me in the slightest - such a strong autumn / winter campaign. Right before Christmas I popped into my local store and found the perfect winter warmers:

NEXT soft to the touch cream jumper
NEXT jumper styled with Boohoo necklace and Zara coat

This cream furry jumper is something a little bit different to the fluffy eyelash sweaters which seem to be everywhere at the moment. Plus I find some of those knits really itch and irritate my skin. White / cream personally isn't one of the most flattering colours on me, but when I touched the material in-store, I fell in love. Softest material ever. I got in my usual size - 8 - but it's a little over-sized so I probably should've gone smaller. It's over-sized, comfy and long line so you can even wear with leggings. It's been perfect for layering with on long commutes and for trips to the cinema where I always feel a bit nippy.

NEXT faux fur collar cardigan
NEXT cardigan styled with Zara coat

The faux fur trim cardigan is similar to one I saw in Topshop once and is nice and cosy layered under my khaki Zara miltary coat. I wore it to CSL and it kept me nice and snuggly when I was coming home from Birmingham and waiting outside in the cold for a very delayed train. Whenever I wear it I feel like a Game of Thrones extra! WINTER IS COMING

I've been really impressed with both items so I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for what Next has to offer in 2014.

Do you shop at Next?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Je ne regrette rien

This post is classic why-you-should never-shop-when-you're-mourning. Faced with some crushing news yesterday, I honestly let my feelings get the better of me and a harmless Internet browse to cheer myself up soon turned into quite the Topshop order:

Total spend justified thanks to a discount code, cash back, and x4 vouchers that I've been very kindly gifted over the last couple of months. For the time being, I am still hurting. A lot. But these things take time. Sooner or later you need to put your brave face on and face the world. And if a new dress (or five) makes this a little easier, then so be it.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Jar Jar Binks

2012 was the year that I first discovered the versatility of The Jar. It was the year I first went to Meat Liquor and was delighted with the novelty of drinking from a jam jar. It was also the year I went to DonnoWhat2Cook's first supper club where we drank from - you guessed it - glass jars. Feeling inspired, I picked up some jars of my own from Hobby Craft. Fast forward to Christmas 2013 I received two of these amazing Laura Ashley Marina jar lamps:

The jars are in fact usable so you can unclasp and voilà... another - very neat - storage option. When the lamps arrived, I was stunned to discover that the jars were a lot bigger than what I expected. I'd planned to display a few sweets or a flower or something but with pumpkin-like capacity, I am left wondering what on earth I can store. Because with jars this big, I could probably store a small dog (not that I would). Pinterest to the rescue. After browsing Pinterest for the last year or so, I decided I should probably sign up with my own account already. You can find me here. Or click my little Pinterest bottle icon on the right hand side of my blog. My boards are still very much a work in progress, but I have found some lovely ideas of what to fill my jars with:

There are also some wonderful ideas on the Laura Ashley blog which I have also pinned:

Any other ideas of what I could pop in my jars?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New year, new start, new hair

I don't know about you, but for me, going to the hairdressers is a bit like drinking an absinthe based cocktail. Feels like an excellent idea at the time, but results in the biggest headache the next day. Is it just me, or do hairdressers never seem to listen? Are we speaking Martian when we sit in that chair for our initial consultation? "Don't take a lot off" suddenly translates to most of your hair in clumps on the floor. I don't know what it is. Maybe they like to think they know best. It's for this very reason that I'm always a bit nervous about going to the hairdressers. I know it will cost me time and money - that I won't get back - for a cut that will take even more time to grow out. Correct me if I'm wrong, but hair is incredibly precious to a woman. Good hair equates to a good day. On a bad hair day, everything around us turns to shit. So it's only natural that we want a hairdresser we can trust, who listens to our needs and enables us to leave their salon confident, head held high, and feeling on top of the world. I shamefully haven't had my hair cut since last June. Now is the time. What better time than the New Year? New year, new start, new hair.

I recently joined Pinterest and having finally booked up a hair appointment for this week, am seeking out hair inspiration. I'm forever influenced by the "Rachel" - simple and looks great both straight and wavy. With the dreary weather of late, I feel the need to brighten things up a bit so will also be getting a few highlights. Nothing too out there, just something to give my hair a little more texture. With naturally wavy hair, here are the sorts of cuts and colours I've been pinning:

Sources: as found on Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest? 

My username is LucyAngele and you can find my recent pins here

Are you getting a New Year hair cut?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Winter Style with Debenhams

Debenhams are currently inviting bloggers to post about two winter inspired looks using items from the Debenhams website. One lucky winner will win £500 in vouchers and there are runner up prizes up for grabs too. All you need to do is create two winter inspired looks - one for day time, and the second a party look - with a budget of £250 per outfit. Here is my entry:

Day look:

Outfit total: £241.19

At this time of year it's all about layering and staying cosy, so I chose this very warm looking eyelash knit jumper, burgundy tights, and fleece lined leather gloves (fashionable AND practical!). The Henry Holland duffel bag is the perfect shade of berry and great for day time with its across the body strap. Tartan skirts continue to be big this season, and the cut out boots have a sensible heel which is ideal for day time. The coat is £95 but worth every penny - beautiful colour, beautiful cut... don't you think? And the watch... words cannot express who much I love this watch... who needs a Michael Kors, eh? ;)

Night look:

In December and January, my party look tends to revolve around black, lace, sparkles, and berry for a splash of colour. Looking on the Debenhams website I couldn't resist this embellished dress, metallic clutch, and Lancôme lipstick. Also essential at this time of year... a cosy faux fur jacket for the chilly journey home and a sensible sized heel - meaning you can party all night long without nasty blisters ruining your night! With my party inspired outfit coming to less than £250, there's £8 spare for a cheeky cocktail!

If any of the above has caught your eye I have provided links to all of them above - so free feel to have a nose on the Debenhams website! I am already very tempted by the grey coat, cut out boots and the watch...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

There's no time like the present

I know that Christmas present posts aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I actually really like reading them. For me they are brilliant gift guides and provide me with gift ideas for friends and family in the up and coming year. Or maybe I'm just a nosy parker ;) As ever, I was blessed to have friends and family who know me so well. Here are some snippets of what I received:

LOVE the French cushion //  Keep Calm and Carry on Shopping mug  // beautiful multi-coloured slippers
Cupcake book  // Green & Blacks cook book  // few books including Perks of Being a Wallflower
Various DVDs  //  money and some generous vouchers  // bag in the most beautiful shade of blue from Alison
Goodies from Germany from my lovely friend Charlotte  //  Yankee candle gift set  //  games  // Laura Ashley gift set

What's inside the pretty box? Even if the gift was the box itself, I would've been happy!

Inside I found a glass teapot and a selection of different flowering teas. I first discovered flowering tea in 2013 through various trips out for dim sum and afternoon teas. I've used one of the flowers already. It's so dreamy the way the flower opens

The biggest surprise was two games I used to play when I was younger. Knights & Merchants I had a free demo of with an computing magazine I used to get back in the day - so tracking this down was amazing! The Pokemon game has kept me entertained on the commutes between London and Suffolk over the festive period. Always when I watch Sucker Punch I am reminded of how alternative but awesome the soundtrack is - my favourites being "Army of Me" by Bjork, "Sweet Dreams" and "White Rabbit" - an Alice in Wonderland inspired track. Now I no longer have to trawl YouTube for them!

I mostly had books and DVDs to be honest with you. I love Luther so was really excited with this Luther novel from my grandparents. I've never seen Red Riding Hood before, but I'm really into fairy tales and the trailer looks promising.

What sorts of things did you receive this year?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Hello 2014

I'd originally pinned my hopes on seeing the London fireworks with friends this year, but with the rain quite literally putting a damper on things, we quickly changed our plans. As much as I love a meal out, New Year's Eve prices are ridiculous - £80-100 per head for tiny portions? No thank you. With the last minute offer of a free house, we decided to have a night in instead fuelled with cider, home cooked food and a bottle of bubbly. The menu I devised was very last minute but hit the spot. We ate devoured:

Sea bass coated with a garlic, herb, lemon and cheese crust, roasted Mediterranean veg, and potato croquettes with a chestnut crust:

Balsamic mushrooms stuffed with spinach, garlic, pine nuts and cheese:

Deliciously rich chocolate cups topped with a chocolate straw

We filled up glasses preparing for the countdown

And nibbled on shop bought macaroons from M&S as a post-dinner treat:

Seeing the Southbank on the TV and all the rain, we had no regrets whatsoever and consequently had a much better view of the fireworks this way ;) Relieved to be indoors and dry, we laughed, talked and danced into the night. New Year's Day was a bit of a bed day to be honest with you. I'm staying on a couple more days then I'm heading back home for the weekend for someone's birthday.

I won't be blogging about my new year's resolutions as I never really make any. Unless eating even more burgers in 2014 counts as one? ;) I could probably do with losing some weight and exercising, but I'm realistic and know that's just not me.

What did you do on NYE? Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?