All Hallow's Eve

I hope everyone's having a Happy Halloween!  I'm going to watch a Tim Burton film and devour a graveyard cake I made earlier, complete with cinder toffee icing, biscuit gravestones and meringue ghosts!

How are you celebrating? 

Autumn/Winter Trend : Tartan

Tartan is one of my favourite trends at the moment.  I think it's partially been fuelled by the blogger hype for the H&M red tartan scarf but for me tartan also conjures up images of log fires and Scottish winters, so is the perfect thing for Autumn/Winter.

Kate Moss walking for Westwood's Anglomania show - A/W 93-94.  Images via here and here

My first fashion related memory is of seeing a Vivienne Westwood tartan wedding dress on The Clothes Show in the early 90s.  I remember admiring Westwood's alternative choice of colour and pattern; despite it differing greatly from my early attempts at wedding fashion (think a four-year-old me and a net curtain)!

For this post, I'm also taking a leaf out of Viv's book.  I think the tartan works well cosied up chunky knitwear and Fairisle patterns, as she did with the fur.  A fair few high street stores have toughened up their tartan pieces with studs, the embellishment of the season, providing an echo of tartan's punk past.  Topshop have used this theme and added zips to their red and black checked blazer.  I couldn't resist adding in Mulberry's new twist on the Alexa.  The studs and tassels make this bag the perfect partner for a tartan ensemble.
 H&M Cushion Cover  |  Topshop Blazer  |  New Look Shirt

How would you style tartan this season?

Egg Yolk Hair Mask

This hair mask is a great way of using up left-over egg yolks.  It's also incredibly simple to do, with just the addition of a few kitchen cupboard staples.  After I had made the Coconut Macaroons from my previous post, I was left with two plump yellow yolks.  To these I added 1 dessertspoon of honey and 2 dessertspoons of olive oil and combined them all together with a fork.  I applied the mask to damp hair and covered my head with clingfilm (although if you have a shower cap, use that instead)!  I left the mask on for about 45 minutes.  Make sure you wash it out with cold water so that you don't end up with scrambled egg in your hair!  Then shampoo and condition as usual.  

There are so many combinations you can try for homemade hair masks.  Bananas and avocados are potential ingredients to keep in mind, as well as other oils, such as almond or caster oil.  After using this mask, my hair feels stronger and my split ends are less noticeable.  It's definitely worth raiding your kitchen for homemade beauty alternatives.

What homemade hair treatments have you used?

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are the perfect afternoon treat to cheer yourself up with on a chilly day.  I've been enjoying mine with a mug of hot chocolate while cosied up in fluffy slipper boots and a chunky jumper!  They're really easy to make and there's also something rather magical about watching egg whites turn from a yellow-ish gloop into white fluffy clouds.  You can even jazz up your macaroons with some chopped glace cherries, or drizzle some melted chocolate over them if you're feeling naughty!

Coconut Macaroons - adapted from Nigella's recipe
Makes about 16

2 large egg whites
100g caster sugar
30g ground almonds
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
250g dessicated coconut
  • Pre-heat oven to 170C/Gas mark 3.
  • Beat the eggs with a whisk until they look like frothy, fluffy clouds and form soft peaks.
  • Add in the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, and continue to whisk so that your fluffy clouds turn silky and glossy and can form slightly firmer peaks.
  • Fold in the almonds, salt, vanilla extract and coconut.  Use a large metal spoon and try to use as little folds, or turns, as possible.  The mixture needs to be 'just-combined'.
  • Spoon onto a lined baking tray.  Nigella recommends 'clementine-sized domes', and this shape worked well for me.
  • Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden.
  • Transfer them to a cooling rack and once cooled.

What's your favourite afternoon treat?

Cosy Casuals

The wintry weather we've been experiencing has meant I've been reaching for comfy and easy to wear outfitsMy main staple item of clothing are my black skinny jeans.  After my faithful Topshop Baxters finally fell apart a year ago I set about replacing them.  The newer version of my beloved Baxters just didn't feel the same (sob) and I ended up picking up a pair of New Look's Super Skinny jeans.  It's now a year on, and my New Look pair have fared well.  They fit fantastically and are so comfortable (they're also a lot cheaper than Topshop)!  They've been my most reached for garment since the weather turned chillier.

My go-to tops of the moment generally are either navy and white or black and white stripes.  This particular one is from the Primark basics range!  Not only is it super-cheap but it's perfect for lounging about in.  H&M are also a favourite of mine for plain tees and jersey tops.  For days when cosiness is key, I keep accessories to a minimum.  I teamed the stripes and skinnies combo with my trusty nude ballet pumps and an ever-essential red and white polka dot umbrella!

My laid-back looks tend to have a slightly Parisian feel to them which is ideal for lazy days spent dreaming of meandering around the French capital, Ladurée macarons and pretty garçons!

What are your wardrobe essentials?

Discovering Melabelle

This weekend I popped along to Ascot Racecourse for their fashion sale event.  Over two days, 140 exhibitors had the opportunity to showcase their clothing and accessories to the hoards of women (and a handful of disgruntled husbands) who passed through the doors.  I have to admit that most of the brands were aimed at a slightly older customer, but there was plenty to keep me occupied too.  I spied some gorgeous ostrich bags by Ostrich2Love and am so pleased I discovered Melabelle, an up-and-coming British fashion brand created by Bella Cager.  

The new Autumn/Winter collection is inspired by an envelope belonging to Bella's grandmother which contained silhouettes of dancers.  These dancers are one of the main features of the new collection; they look especially cute on silk scarves.  All the fabrics are hand dyed and the prints are designed by Bella herself.  You can read more about the inspiration behind the collection here.  

The range has a simplicity and elegance of the early 20th century.  My favourite item was definitely their pea coat.  I really love the structured cut and the androgynous look it could give to an outfit.  Another item that really stood out was the 'Cute' dress, which features bronze beading around the neckline and hem. 

I'm pleased I went to the event, despite it not being something I'd usually attend.  It was such a great place to discover some new boutique brands, and was the perfect girly day out with my Mum!  

I'm really looking forward to see more from Melabelle.  What do you think?

Creating a Relaxing Bedroom

Recently my sleeping pattern has been all over the place.  The first thing I tried in an attempt to get a more normal night's sleep was to make my bedroom a nice place to relax in.  So far it seems to have worked!  

I usually read for a while to take my mind off things and to generally wind down.  For me it really helps to dim the lights before I go to sleep and so I have fairy lights wrapped around my bed frame and often light a candle.  At the moment I'm just using plain tea lights but different scents, such as lavender and chamomile, can really help you unwind.  I also keep my diary close by my bed so I can jot down a plan of things I need to do the next day.  This really helps to reduce any anxiety I'd have the next morning as I know I'm all organised for the day's events.  

I think it's also really important to create a space that you feel happy in and find aesthetically pleasing.  For me this means popping a few pretty things on my bedside table.   Whether it's a memento of a summer gone by, an old perfume bottle or a childhood favourite toy, they all make my room look nice and cosy!

What are your top tips for getting a good night's sleep?

My New Vintage Bag

I've been searching car boot sales, charity shops and eBay for ages now in the hope of finding a vintage leather bag.  At one of the last car boots I went to this beauty was hiding amongst some belts and scarves on the end of a clothes rail.  It instantly caught my eye and I tentatively asked for the price.  To my delight, the lady only wanted £2 for it!  It's got an old 80s Clarks label inside (along with a deceptive amount of space) and is in really good condition.  It's certainly one of my favourite thrifty buys of this year.

It's the perfect bag for casual daytime outfits.  Today I teamed it with a skater dress and scarf for a spot of shopping with my Mum.  I bought this dress last year in H&M and it's great for unpredictable autumn weather as it layers well.

Next on my vintage wish list is the perfect white silk blouse and a beaded trophy top!

What thrifty bargains have you bought recently?

Getting Out of Bed

Over the last month I've taken a step back from blogging and, as it happens, from most other things too (I've retreated to my bed).  In doing so, I've realised what's important and what I want to focus on.  I've been finding overcoming my lack of self-confidence a big challenge and it's stopped me from doing the things that I enjoy the most.  It's become clear that baby steps are the way forward and that I shouldn't be unhappy because of what I think other people's opinions might be. 

I'm well aware that things aren't going to change overnight.  Changing your mood and outlook on life takes time.  Accepting that it's OK when you're not feeling great is the first step and finding the confidence to talk about it is the next.

I started composing this post in my head last night.  In all honesty, I've wanted to write something about this for a while now.  Seeing A Thrifty Mrs's post this morning about living with a mental illness, I was inspired to go ahead and publish this and not hide it away in my draft posts.  Reading her brave and honest words reminded me that I'm not the only one who wants to hide away from the world now and again and that more people should speak out about their experiences of mental illness.

I intended this post to be my first baby step to feeling like myself again.  It turns out I set myself a huge challenge as it was a lot harder to find the words than I thought it would be.  I certainly feel a lot better for sharing and if I've helped someone reading this post then it's been worth it.  :)