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 catwalk, this does not surprise me in the slightest as they had such a strong A/W 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 Clothes Show Live here 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 the coming year!

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:

Striped tunic 1  //   Motel dress   //   WhitePepper smock dress  //   Striped tunic 2
Long boots   //   Ragged Priest cable knit  //  WhitePepper smock dress //  Leigh black jeans

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, so be it.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Jar Jar Binks // the Laura Ashley lamp of dreams

This year was the year that I first discovered the versatility of The Jar. It was the year I first went to Meat Liquor and loved 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 where 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. 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?

Sunday 12 January 2014

Winter Style with Debenhams

[competition now closed] 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 secondly a party look - with a budget of £250 per outfit. Here is my entry:

Day look:

Red Herring grey strap watch - £24 // Andrea Bucci purple tights - £7.50 // Quiz black cut out ankle boots - £34.99
Black leather gloves with fleece lining - £11.20 // Henry Holland wine quilted stud duffel bag - £14.50
The Collection beige eyelash jumper - £24 // Warehouse coat - £95 // Red Herring black check skirt - £30

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:
Coast faux fur jacket - £99 // Phrase Eight black & gold dress - £99 // The Collection wine court heels - £12.50
Principles by Ben de Lisi gold clutch - £21 // Lancôme l'Absolu Nu lipstick - £10.50

Outfit total: £242

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, do free feel to have a nose on the Debenhams website here. I am already very tempted by the grey coat, cut out boots and the watch, so watch this space!

Thursday 2 January 2014

Hello New Year

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 as luck may have it, 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 a birthday. I won't be blogging about my new year's resolutions as I never really make any.

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