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Floral Sequin Top | Ponyskin Heels | Sequin Dress | Leather Skirt | Chanel Les Beiges | Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche | Chanel Rouge Allure |
Mulberry Campden Clutch | Sequin Cami | Glitter Mid Shoes

Christmas party season is officially upon us. And it seems like everyone I know is heading out with work this week. Having already indulged in a festive meal with the Precept lot at The Botanist last week, (where I got away with wearing my Christmas jumper from last year), we're having fairly low key drinks next week. But whether you're heading out with work or just friends, tis the season for sequins. I'm not sure whether it's the dark nights, or the approach of Christmas, but I'm all about a bit of sparkle this time of year. So when it comes to finding the perfect Christmas party outfit, I think there's nothing better than a statement glitzy piece that will stand out. Whether it's a full blown show stopper dress or playsuit covered in sequins, I think it's the right season to experiment. There's something about wintery nights that makes me want to either go bold or go home. But if you're not feeling that brave, there's always the option of an embellished top with a simple leather skirt. Lately, I've found that a lot of my outfits have focused on either top or skirt. If you're not feeling the statement piece though, black sequins can be a bit more subtle. I think a simple little strappy sequin top like the one above looks great with a pair of skinny jeans and heels, but it's plain enough to work with any colour, or even with a patterned skirt. The one above is actually from Asda (of all places!) but it looks they've sold out online at the moment so I've just linked to a similar one. It's worth looking at their site. They've got some pretty cute party dresses in stock right now too which are pretty easy on the purse if you're not looking to spend a lot. Proving that you don't have to bankrupt yourself over the holidays to still look like you've pulled out all the stops. Plus it leaves you with more pennies to spend on your festive makeup (obviously red. Obviously Chanel), and accessories.. Not that I ever need much of an excuse to want to treat myself to more!
cake boss fenwick
It's not often you find yourself being taught how to ice a cupcake by the woman who made Alexa Chung's birthday cake, in a department store. Yet somehow, that's exactly how me and Sarah found ourselves spending our Saturday afternoon! I'm not going to lie, Cake Boss isn't a brand that I'm overly familiar with. But when Fenwick got in touch asking if I'd like to go see a demonstration from leading cake designer, Juliet Sear, it seemed like a good time to learn more. And I figured there'd probably be free cupcakes in it for me.. so what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
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From learning how to make rose shaped cupcakes to tips and tricks on how to ice a cake, Juliet talked us through a range of techniques. And showed us that while some of it is in the skill, you can get a lot of help with the right tools! I'm not saying it's easy to make buttercream petals (as you can probably see from my attempt compared to Juliet's), but there's a lot to be said for having the right gear at hand. I've never been a huge baker, so I've never thought to much investing in good quality cake tools. But from turn tables to special paddle things to flatten the icing down, it seems like a pretty serious business! What is cool about the Cake Boss brand though is that it's aimed to make your life easier, from printed rollers to make your fondant icing look extra special with pretty patterns, to a letter press for icing that works as a guide for your lettering. Their tools help you create the perfect cake for any occasion.
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After dabbling with our own icing techniques, we left sticky-fingered and feeling creative with a bunch of Cake Boss goodies! Since I'm not the most ambitious baker, I've decided that my mother will probably offer them a better home, so I'm wrapping them up and adding them to her pile of Christmas presents. One thing that was included in my bag (although I'll not spoil the surprise of which one since she'll probably be reading this) was one of their cookie pans. Made from a really thick metal, it reminds me of the old fashioned madeleine moulds. I can't wait for her to see them!
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Cake Boss products are available from Fenwick's Basement (located with the rest of the baking equipment)
cafe royal brunch
It's just under two weeks until Christmas is here. In some ways I'm still trying to figure out where this year went, and in others, I'm glad it's almost over! But even though it feels like Christmas has creeped up on us, I already can't wait for it to be here. Having ventured into town yesterday afternoon though, I think it's safe to say the majority of my final bits and pieces will probably end up being ASOS orders. There's nothing worse than the hustle and bustle of the shops at the moment. And after pushing through crowds trying (and failing) to get my hands on a coat, I gave up and headed to Cafe Royal.
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After trying to venture there with Bosson on Saturday, I couldn't resist wandering past to see how bad the queues were. And much to my surprise, there was none! So I finally got to enjoy the eggs I'd been craving all weekend. As me and Sarah realised, there are only a handful of great places for lunch in Newcastle, let alone in the city centre itself. Cafe Royal is one of the few great places (besides Ernest) for eggs and they serve brunch until half 3 on a Sunday. Always great for the not so early risers (like me). The only trouble is, it's not a very well kept secret, so on a weekend they get packed. Add crazed Christmas shopping to the mix, and you can pretty much guarantee you'll be stuck waiting for a table. We must've lucked out though, because within minutes we were sat down and I'd ordered pots of tea, Eggs Royal and a raspberry scone.
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So I'm still left with a couple of pieces to get, but I'm not feeling that guilty. I'm almost sorted and it was hard enough bundling myself and braving the cold. Even it was only for brunch in the end.. Sunday's the day you're supposed to take it easy on, right?
neals yard
Christmas shopping can a bitch. Unless I've had a sudden flash of inspiration or someone has asked for something really specific, it's always hard to find that perfect present. And since I always love people to have a few things to open, I'm a big fan of stocking fillers. I like to find a lot of a little selection of small things for everyone, so naturally my Christmas shopping can start pretty early in the year if I stumble on any gems! Beauty and grooming products are always a good bet for Christmas presents. So when Neal's Yard got in touch to tell me about their new store opening in Eldon Square (right next to M&S), I was pretty excited to visit and browse of the range of goodies that they'd have on offer!
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Since Neal's Yard is all natural, organic products, they're perfect for people with skin that's a little on the sensitive side like mine. And to help promote the opening, they sent me out one of their Christmas gift sets. Priced at £14 each, they come in three varieties: Balance, Unwind and Revive, and each come with a mini shower gel and body lotion. Packaged in a cute little gift box, they're really nicely presented and are a great little stocking filler! And right now if you spend over £50, you can get a Revive gift set free! The bottles are the perfect size to try out Neal's Yard. Or if you're feeling organised and can resist trying them out, they seem the perfect travel size! While I kinda had mine earmarked for someone, when I got the Balance set I couldn't resist trying out the rose and geranium shower gel. And I think it's pretty fair to say I can do with all the balancing I can get! I've not tried the lotion yet, but the shower gel is a very delicate floral scent and leaves your skin feeling lovely and nourished. It's the perfect scent for if you're in the need of a little pick me up.

Balance gift set c/o Neal's Yard
slow
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This week I've had to take some time off work. I'm the sort of person who's always going 50 mile an hour. So trying to slow down a bit and unwind is something that doesn't come naturally. But after having a bit of a shock recently, and seeing the signs of my anxiety manifest physically, I decided it was about time to listen to my body. I realised how much I'd been ignoring all of the signs that were telling me to slow down and take better care of myself. So after temper tantrums, and a lot of support from the people I love, I've been taking some time to get back to myself. And trying to do things that will make me happy, rather than worrying so much about the stuff I can't control. Doing things like lying in and resting, instead of feeling guilty for not getting things done. Like finally getting around to reading the magazines that have been stacking up for longer than I'd like to admit. And of course eating well.

Since I realised how run down I was, I've been making an effort to increase the protein in my diet to help my body heal itself. Which generally means I've been eating a lot of eggs and avocado. The pasta in the photo is inspired by a recipe on The Londoner. But since I've not really ventured out the flat much, I changed the recipe to something a little simpler. Making do with what I already had in, rather than going out for ingredients. It's dead easy and it's full of goodness so if you want to try out my slightly more simple version (which serves 2 people), you'll need:
2 avocados
1/2 lemon (or some lemon juice)
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of parmesan (or any hard cheese)
A handful of cherry tomatoes
A handful of spaghetti
Once your pasta has boiled, peel and mash up the avocado in a small pan (I used a potato masher), squeeze in the juice from the lemon, along with parmesan and chilli flakes. Add this to the cooked pasta along with the chopped cherry tomatoes (so they don't get squished while you're mashing) and stir until the mixture coats the pasta. Then all you need to do is enjoy! Adding more parmesan is optional but thoroughly recommended.
links of london christmas list
Nails Inc Snowflake polish | Links of London ring | Links of London watch | Ikea Ranarp table lamp | Chanel perfume | Diptyque candle | Canon 6D |
Cath Kidston mug | L'Occitane hand cream | Crosley Record Player | Boden festive socks | Cath Kidston PJs

There is nothing I love more than putting together a Christmas wishlist. There's something about this time of year where I feel like you can admit to wanting to be a little more indulgent than usual. And wishlists are one of the cheapest ways of shopping. Sure I always end up wanting it all and that's never going to happen.. but there's still something that I love about making lists. So imagine if someone told you that you could win your wishlist? The other day Links of London got in touch to let me know that they're running a Pinterest competition. All you have to do is create a Links of London Christmas wishlist and tweet the link to your board to have the chance to win your entire wishlist, up to the value of £1200, this Christmas! You can find full details here.

To help promote their competition, I said I'd put together my Christmas wishlist too! Obviously in an ideal world a black lambskin 2.55 would always come top of the list. But rather than lust after things I REALLY can't afford, I thought I'd stick to a slightly more realistic budget. Since I'm pretty skint at the moment my money needs to go on presents (and not ones for myself) so I didn't want to get too carried away with myself..

Rather than one big present, I'm more interested in having lots of little things. And usually that may include a piece of jewellery, or a watch. I've noticed that lately I've been opting for quite minimal jewellery, sticking to wearing a couple of simple pieces with a watch. I've not really returned to my MK watch this year, preferring to wear my simpler Daniel Wellington watch I got last year. But I'm still after a new metal strap one. Maybe something like an Olivia Burton one or this Links of London watch, where it's still got quite a simple face.

Since I'm trying to take some time to relax, a lot of the things I seem to be picking out are perfect for cosy nights in the house. There's nothing better crisp new PJs, a nice big mug of something hot and a relaxing scented candle (Bosson has opened my eyes to the wonders of Diptyque after she got me an amazing Ambre candle for my birthday). I've also been looking at lot more at homeware lately, and I'd love to create more of a space where I can write in the flat. Trouble is space is limited since I've got the smaller bedroom. But I'd love something like this lamp and maybe a new side table that could serve as a makeshift desk. Along with nesting, I've also decided that I want a record player. Don't ask me why. It's a complete whim based probably on watching too many old French films. Anyway, this Crosley is appealing to me because: 1) it's small so won't take up much room, 2) I've already decided it'll look cute standing on top of my Hemnes chest of drawers.

A new DSLR has been pretty high on my list (although not within the reasonable price range of presents you can ask someone for) for a while now. I've been mulling over what sort of model to get, how much I really need one and what sort of spec would be good enough. I'm torn between choosing something at the higher end of the scale, knowing it will be used for work too, or just opting for a cheaper model which will do me for now. At the moment, I'm leaning towards the former and just pushing myself into getting a full frame like the 6D (so I don't get bored and ending up wanting to just upgrade anyway). But I'm definitely open to advice and suggestions?!

suede-chelsea-boots
Since the cold weather has crept up, I'm officially back to living in my boots. Ankle, thigh high, cut out, flat, block heels, patent leather, suede.. you name it, it's probably buried in my wardrobe. But since they're pretty much essential winter wear, you can never have enough, right? So when Clarks got in touch and offered me another pair to add to my collection , I couldn't resist. Ever since I was little, Clarks has always been one of those brands that I associate with good sturdy shoes. The prices are reasonable, but you know what you're buying is quality. But lately, I've really thought that Clarks have stepped up their game. For the last couple of years, their advertising has taken them away from being a sensible shoe shop to a modern but established British brand.
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While their recent collaborations with the likes of Orla Kiely have brought them more brand kudos, some of their styles are still more aimed at an older crowd. But their latest range have some great staple boots for winter. After browsing some of their latest styles, I had my heart set on a pair of black Maisie Hotel Chelsea boots, but with 20% in store and online, I couldn't find a pair in my size for love nor money! Not to mention discovering that I need to go a half size down in Clarks.. After a lot of hunting though and a (slightly harassed) trip to the Metro Centre, weaving through Christmas shoppers, I finally managed to get my hands on a pair of Maisie Hotel boots in navy suede. When I realised the black ones were out of stock, my first idea was to try out a pair of their Mariella Busby chelsea boots. But there felt a little wide, and there was something about the almost crinkled leather that I couldn't quite get away with. The Maisie Hotel boots are a lot slimmer, and since I have narrow feet, they fit a lot better.
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With well made, thin soles, they feel well made but not clunky. They're not the sort of boots I'd be heading out in the snow in (because they're you know, well suede..) but they're definitely the sort to see you through a few cold seasons. Like you'd expect from Clarks, they just feel well put together. While it's great to be able to change styles, I think investing in decent footwear is so important. I hate the idea of PU shoes that start to peel. I want something that I can wear until the leather is cracked and falling apart. And everyone knows that leather just gets better with age. The suede used on these boots feels thick and sturdy, so it doesn't seem the type that will crease and sag as they start to look more worn.
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Although navy suede wouldn't have been my first choice, the style is perfect. I was a bit gutted that I didn't manage to find a pair in black, but I thought these could be quite a cute alternative. I'm ok with the whole wearing black and navy thing in general. But I'm not too sure how well these will work with tights.. so maybe they'll be reserved as more of a summer boot, to wear with bare legs and dresses? I'm not sure yet. Although with the website promising that the black are coming in stock again soon, I'm kind of tempted to return them in favour of the ones I really want. What do you think?

Maisie Hotel Chelsea boots c/o Clarks

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