Sunday, 31 August 2014

Instagram: August 2014

august begins • pinning soft colours • mac spice lipliner • baking cookies • chick flick sunday • serious salt beef sandwich washed down with fentiman's rose lemonade • finally got rid of the bleach blonde • marshmallow creme • black heels are a must in any girl's wardrobe • sleep interrupted by this little tyke • tea and reading - standard setup • kat von d lipsticks for all seasons • artsy globe • white on white • pastel icing is my fave • the bestie sent me some lush goodies for my birthday - only 8 months late, haha • the white company lusting • huge raspberries for breakfast • my (neglected) workout gear • addiction to sanpellagrino lemonade • graduation tickets arrived for october • more interior loving on pinterest • hazelnut whirl pots of joy are amazing • heart blouse from matalan • fresh produce from the farmer's market

Phew! I've actually managed to post a photo on Instagram every single day of August. I don't know if that's an accomplishment or just an indication of how obsessed I am! Either way, I really love looking back on what I've done over the months, and dating the posts has helped to keep my organisation in check. It kind of looks like tons has happened - it really hasn't. I've been working nights all this month so have been going to bed at 6am and waking up past midday (something I haven't been used to doing since I was a teenager...) so my days are pretty much wasted. It's been a lazy month, except I have now been actively looking for a full-time job and feel like I've already found my perfect one. I'm just desperately trying not to get my hopes up but fingers crossed for an interview at least! I also had a lovely evening with old friends this past week, reminiscing and have a right giggle over lots of wine. We always leave it so long between meetings - life really gets in the way nowadays - I think the last time I saw them was a week before my driving test back in January! We're definitely going to make the effort to see each other more often. I think it's so important to keep in touch with people you've known since school!

I guess one of the biggest changes I've made this month is my hair colour - ooh, I'm so daring! I have wanted to go darker for months, mostly because I started to hate how dark my eyebrows looked compared to the bleach blonde. After years of bleaching the hell out of my hair it obviously wasn't in the best condition despite using all the hair masques and heat protect products I could get my hands on. I'm talking super brittle split straw here. I've wanted to go ash-blonde for I-don't-know-how-long, but my hairdresser Mum was always worried that it would go green after using so much peroxide on my hair. Luckily, after a couple of patch tests, the colour looked so pretty and not at all green so we went ahead with it all. We chose shades from the Affinage Infiniti range, which are professional colours available from salons and online hairdressing wholesalers. The base colour was Cafe Latte, with balayage highlights in Arctic Blonde and lowlights in Milk Chocolate. I'm hoping to get my hands on some Foxy Locks extensions in Latte Blonde once I get paid. I was thinking of dyeing my bleach blonde ones but I've had them ages so I think it's time to reinvest! I'm going to try and make a much more conscious effort to take care of my hair too - I just get so lazy at the moment! 

So who is looking forward to September? I wrote a whole post about why I love Autumn and what I'm looking forward to the most. I won't bore you any further; just know that it's my favourite season and I love the cold, crisp but sunny days. Nothing makes me feel happier!

How was your August?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Meet Me in Portland

Hello everyone, hope you're having a lovely bank holiday weekend! Today I have for you a rather photo-heavy post as yesterday we travelled down to Dorset to see my Aunt get married. I couldn't resist sharing a few of my favourite photographs with you!

I love history, especially the Tudors, so I was really excited when I found out we were going to be witnessing my Aunt getting married at Portland Castle. Overlooking Portland Harbour, the castle is an English Heritage site that was built for Henry VIII in the early 1540s to protect against French and Spanish invasion. It's quite a small fort but the grounds and views from the top are absolutely stunning. Pretty stone walls, low archways, steep stairs, roaring fireplaces, gun platforms and an armoury all feature, and really add Elizabethan character to such a beautiful location. Did I mention that you could dress up? That's exactly what my cousin Ed did. Oh my god, you seriously cannot take him anywhere, haha!

The wedding ceremony was lovely and low-key - all in all about 40 guests were invited - and we were all seated comfortably in the upper hall to watch my Aunt exchange her vows with her husband-to-be. My Uncle acted as Father of the Bride as my Grandfather is no longer with us, and my cousin Amy was my Aunt's Maid of Honour. That left little Evie in the care of my Mum who had no problems entertaining her throughout. Seriously, Evie is just the cutest baby I've ever seen and so, so well behaved! 

After the signing of the register, we all gathered in the Tudor Kitchen downstairs to have champagne and nibbles. During this time we had group photographs and explored the castle. I had so much fun teetering about in heels while dressing up in old Tudor clothing, and playing Shove Groat with my cousins! Then came the surprise for all of us... We were lined up and ready to throw the confetti when a helicopter landed in the castle grounds for the newlyweds! It was so loud it made my ears pop! Steve had arranged for the pair to take a sky tour around Portland Bill before jumping in a BMW which would whisk them away to the reception venue.

The reception was held close-by at Harbour Lights Bar & Restaurant which was right on Portland Harbour - as you'd expect. The decor was so modern and the staff were all really friendly and accommodating. We had the whole of the upstairs to ourselves, which contained a private balcony that overlooked the beautiful harbour and a free bar that we certainly took full advantage of! 

Four big round tables and a head table for the wedding party made the room feel really cosy and relaxed. The couple went with a red and white theme; we had bubbles, heart chocolates, wine, and disposable cameras on the tables too which was such a fun idea, especially when you've been on the champagne since 11am! There was a sit-down meal which was delicious but sadly there is no evidence of it because we were all starving after our long journey and the intrepid exploration of our surroundings. 

Nevertheless here's a run-down of what we enjoyed:

STARTER - Beer-battered cod pieces on a bed of pea puree, served with crispy game chips
MAIN COURSE - Roast chicken in a creamy bacon sauce, served with mashed potato, purple-sprouting broccoli and Heritage carrots
DESSERT - A generous slice of rich chocolate torte, served with fresh summer berries and double cream

After the meal, the tables were cleared for the evening festivities. During this time we went for a walk around the harbour and drooled over all the pretty sail boats docked by the jetties. When we came back it was time for music, and the first dance. It turned out to be a YouTube moment, when the slow-paced Bryan Adams song cut out and they started dancing to a mix of classic party tunes - so entertaining!

Our day started at 5.30am Saturday morning and ended 1am this morning so we're having a rather subdued Sunday to say the least. Many of us are probably nursing a poorly head on the sofa with copious amounts of tea to hand. But it was worth it to see my Aunt so happy after a turbulent few years. All that's left to say is congratulations to the bride and groom, and thank-you for a beautiful day in the Dorset sunshine!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Sunday Edit #4

We may be in the middle of August but I am so so SO ready for Autumn, and I think the weather is too! Autumn has to be my absolute favourite time of year. The cold, crisp but sunny days; the leaves changing from green to an array of reds and oranges; the comfy oversized knitwear; the khaki parka and wellington boots combo; the hot chocolate by the open fire; the pumpkin carving; the stodgy dumplings in a homemade beef stew on a chilly evening... Mmm yes, I'm looking forward to it all! And I've spent a lot of my time (and money) planning my Autumn/Winter wardrobe this month - because you can never be too prepared, right? I found some fabulous clothes from Matalan of all places, who have really gone up in my estimations as of late. I also got some gorgeous suede ankle boots from there (link), which I can't wait to pair with my old faithful Joni jeans all throughout the colder months. 

I think I enjoy being outside a lot more when it's colder, is that weird? I just love taking my dog for long walks in the countryside, all wrapped up in my staple parka (it has the loveliest softest lining, ahh), tartan scarf and wellington boots. The warm breath clouds in the cold air as you chat to a fellow dog walker about how nice it is to be in the peace and quiet after the Summer rush - peace and quiet... I think I'm getting old!

So all this thinking ahead has got me pondering on what makes me happy. One of my goals over the next few months is to take a lot more photographs. I want to capture more memories for the future, and I think it'll be much easier now I have a pretty new camera to play around with! I'm going to try and lug it around with me a lot more often so I can capture picturesque scenes in HD, rather than just taking a quick snap on my phone for the purpose of Instagram. It may be impractical, carrying around a heavy DSLR camera, but at least I can get a workout in at the same time! Any old excuse, eh?

Do you love Autumn as much as I do? What's your favourite thing about it?

Monday, 11 August 2014

Pastel Sugar Cookies

Some days I wake up and just fancy baking all day. And this weekend, while helping my Mum bake treats for a cricket tea, I went ahead and made these super easy vanilla sugar cookies for us lot! You know that I well and truly have the baking bug, but now the Great British Bake Off is back (thank god!) my level of want is sky high! 

So in ode to "biscuit week" here is the recipe to make these delicious sugar cookies...

Makes approximately 36 small cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups self raising flour

Preheat your oven to 350˚F or gas mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. I started off with a mixer but realised my butter wasn't soft enough so ended up doing it the old school way with a wooden spoon. Next, beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking powder, and add a spoonful at a time to the wet mixture. You can do this with an electric mixer, a metal spoon, or by hand - whichever you prefer. The great thing about this dough is that you don't have to chill it or let it rest at all to be able to work with it. Simply flour a countertop and roll out in batches. You want the cookies to be thicker than normal (about 1/4 inch thick) and they need to be spaced out when baking (about six cookies to a tray). Bake the cookies for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown, and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, I didn't do any measuring. I simply used a tiny amount of concentrated gel food colouring (rose, leaf green, sky blue) to get the pale pastel shades - as you know I'm loving pastels at the moment - and added icing sugar and a little water until the icing was a paste consistency. I popped a heaped teaspoon onto each cookie and used a palette knife to spread into the heart shape. I'm impressed with the results; I think they're pretty cute, and tasty too!

What have you been baking recently?

This recipe was adapted from In Katrina's Kitchen

Thursday, 7 August 2014

MAC Spice Lip Pencil

When I was younger I thought that lip liner belonged on Pamela Anderson and was literally just used for its namesake - to line lips. As I've grown older I have realised that while beauty trends may come and go some things never go out of style. The nude lip liner is one of those staples you should have in your makeup collection. Like that stylish fitted blazer hanging in your wardrobe, this product can be dressed up or down for a variety of occasions.

MAC Spice is likened to a "pink cinnamon stick" but serves as a lovely fleshy nude colour with my paler skin tone. It's great for lining, shaping, and filling in the lip completely. I also find lip liner really useful for keeping your lipstick in place for much longer. In the photograph below I've paired Spice with Chanel lipstick in Boy - near enough the perfect match! The great thing about these pencils is that they suit a range of lipsticks, not just from MAC, and come in a whole host of shades to suit a plethora of skin tones.

MAC are known for gorgeous formulas (and so they should be for their price tag) and this one is no different. Rich in nourishing vitamin E, the pencil is really soft and blendable, and the colour transfers well onto the lips. I've known some pencil liners to be quite sharp and hard to draw with which has put me off using them - I can't tell you the amount of high street liners that have just been left in the back of one of my draws! I have a feeling I'll be giving this one a much longer shelf life in comparison to previous contenders.

What do you think about lip liners? Is it a product you reach for?

MAC Lip Pencils retail at £12.50, and are available from MAC stores and online.
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