Monday, 1 September 2014

FASHION // WINTER BOOTS

With the weather being so horrid these past couple of days, I can't help wishing for a nice pair of winter boots to warm my tootsies. It's no longer the weather for sandles, ballet pumps and the like. Instead we're all itching to buy ultra warm boots that will not only keep our feet warm but also, more importantly, dry. Thankfully the shops have answered my prayers and are beginning to stock lots of winter fashion right now which of course includes lots of shoes for winter.

Here are some of my top picks of the boots I'm lusting after right now.

And please excuse my poor Polyvore editing effects, I'll keep practicing, I promise...

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There's kind of a mix here, although typically a lot of boots are in the usual autumn shades of browns, beige and black etc. But thankfully there's a real mix of different styles and not just ugg boots *shudders*. The H&M ones (aka the stylish ones) are probably my favourite which is weird because a few years ago these would have been the kind of style that I'd avoided at all costs! But I suppose working in retail (and around these shoes constantly) does alter your opinion, especially when you see the way they've been styled and I'm definitely loving them at the moment. I think these are the proper 'stylish' pair of the collection.

The ones from Deichmann (the edgy ones) are also a favourite of mine, if even because I've been after a similar pair for a good few years now. Ever since I've seen the biker/military boots (I don't even know the proper name for them) that Sophia Monk wore in Blink 182's video for 'Always', I've wanted a pair. I think they can look so edgy and rock chick but I've found it increasingly hard to find a pair that are a little feminine too as often they look very manly. I spotted these when browsing the shops before work the other week and let me tell you, the picture doesn't really do them justice, 

The going out pair, from River Island, I think are super stylish and cute. These are ideal for a night out when it's really cold outside because no one really wants to be wearing strappy heels when it's been raining or it's snowing or whatever (not to mention heels are really dangerous when it's icy out). These are a bit more safe and warm without being too boring. I think they're also really fashionable too.

The practical pair from New Look are just that - rather then being suede and more likely to get wet for example, these leather look finish boots are perfect for the really snowy days. They're knee high which means they'll be really warm as well, and I doubt the rain and snow will get through these! I'm not too keen on the length of them but the colour is nice, as well as a contrast to the darker browns that seem to be so popular this winter.

Finally, we have the super comfy ones from Dorothy Perkins that kind of have me wishing for cold weather. I can just imagine my feet being sooo warm in these knit collar ankle boots. They're really cute too and I can't stop thinking about how sweet they'd look with thick tights and a skirt, proving that you don't always have to live in jeans or trousers once the weather gets cold.

What do you think? Will you be treating yourself to a new pair of boots this winter? Let me know!

P.S Both H&M & Dorothy Perkins are offering 25% discount online at the moment!

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A DAY OUT // INVASION SCI-FI EXHIBITION @ STOCKWOOD DISCOVERY CENTRE

I wasn't actually going to blog about this - and this certainly isn't a review by any means - but I had so much fun at this sci-fi exhibition yesterday that I just had to pop up a little lifestyle post about it. Stockwood Discovery Centre, which is situated just outside of Luton currently has a small exhibition on called 'Invasion', which features props from famous sci-fi movies and the like. Although the exhibition only runs until this Sunday, the rest of Stockwood Discovery Centre has a lot to offer too. There are some beautiful gardens that are lovely in whatever weather, and all year round exhibitions too. It was a pretty gloomy and miserable day yesterday so, as I had the afternoon off work, I decided to go along and check it out so I could geek out a little! 

I'm not a MASSIVE fan of sci-fi movies but I had a lot more fun then I expected to and because my Dad is a big fan of them, I kind of grew up watching them. I was surprised to recognise so many of the props from the films actually. Entry to the exhibition only cost £3.95 and entry to the rest of the gardens and museum was free, so it was a really cheap day out.

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I mostly had fun acting like a child, running around and trying to complete the quiz and squealing with excitement when I recolonised a prop. I instantly recognised costumes from films such as Mars Attacks & Lost In Space (personal childhood favourites!) and more popular sci-fi films such as Star Wars, Star Trek etc. Some of the costumes and masks were super creepy though...

I also got a bit snap happy with, er, snapchat!

After a million laps of the exhibition to ensure we had all the answers to the quiz, we took a quick look around the rest of the museum then spent longer exploring outside. The gardens were really gorgeous and even though I'm not interested in gardening, I've always had a soft spot for pretty gardens. I love the idea of following down half hidden winding paths to discover secret gardens, and Stockwood had lots of these! I couldn't help but think how pretty it would all look lit up at Christmas.

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Even though I've lived in Luton all my life, I can't believe yesterday was the first time I'd ever visited Stockwood Discover Centre! Luton doesn't have much to offer in terms of culture, so it was a surprise to find something so fun and interesting right on my doorstep. I'll definitely be returning this winter if they have any Christmas events on.

Have you ever discovered anything fun right on your doorstep that you didn't know about previously? Or have you (or would you?) ever go to a sci-fi exhibition like this? Let me know!

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Monday, 25 August 2014

WE COULD LEAVE THIS TOWN & RUN FOREVER // ONE PLAYSUIT | TWO WAYS

I've never really been one for playsuits, fearing they'd never suit me, but after spotting this effortlessly cute one in H&M I just had to have it. It's soon become my favourite staple piece because it's just so simple and versatile. It's plain, but the little lace detail on the chest stops it being too boring. It is a tad short, but because it's not a dress I think I can get away with the length.

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I've really loved how versatile it is and have worn it on a number of different occasions since purchasing; from mini music festivals to grotty rock clubs & nights out with my friends. It can so easily be dressed up or down and today I'm going to show you how in a mini 'One outfit/two ways' guide & outfit post in one.

I wore this at a local music festival recently and really dressed it down as much as I could. I opted for layers and accessories to liven it up a bit. The loose kimono made it a lot more casual, whilst the stacked bracelets and jewellery gave it a slightly boho hippy look which I loved. With the addition of a hat and a belt to clinch the playsuit in and give me more shape, it dressed up the whole thing and really emphasized how it can be worn as a simple staple or beginning piece.

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I really love the contrast been the bold, basic black and the pastel, floral & floaty kimono (another H&M find)

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For the evening look, I kept everything a lot more simple. Because it was a rock club we were going to, I kept the same belt and shoes and instead focused on my makeup to glam things up a little. I added my studded silver bracelet (my other clustered one being long lost on the beach in Brighton....) and a long beaded necklace from Accessorize. Again, since the playsuit is fairly short and has a lace front, there wasn't too much I needed to add to glam it up for a night out.

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Heavy eyeliner and a deep red lipstick (which admittedly looks pink in these photos) was more than enough to create a simple 'vixen' like look. Much like the little black dress, I've come to find that the little black playsuit is an effortless and easy alternative for a night out (although a little more stressful when it comes to having beer bladder & having to almost remove the whole thing off every time I need the loo).

I think this affordable playsuit is the perfect option for day-to-night events too. It's so easy to just throw a loose kimono on over the top with a few accessories, and pack maybe a pair of heels and a deep bold lipstick for the evening. It saves you having to wear jeans and a top in the day, having to change into a dress or something similar in the evening. It's also perfect for lazy days spent at the pub with a pair of sandles, or even for a family or formal event with the addition of tights!

What do you think? Do you have a staple playsuit that you can dress up or down easily? Let me know!


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Saturday, 23 August 2014

EVENT // PIZZA EXPRESS CHRISTMAS MENU LAUNCH

Recently - on behalf of UK Bloggers - I was invited to attend the launch of Pizza Expresses Christmas menu. I couldn't wait. I love all things food and I love all things Christmas so this was the perfect opportunity for me. Like most other people, I also think the Pizza Express garlic dough-balls are to die for!

I arrived at the event, being held in their Spitalfields restaurant, only to be greeted with fake snow, Christmas music and a glass of delicious Bollinger Champagne. I wasted no time in working the room and trying the different dishes they had to offer. 

Their Christmas menu boasts three brand new pizzas, as well as some new starters, desserts and some new drinks too - Bollinger Champagne and Aspall Blush Cyder! There is a wide range of starters on the menu this winter, from Melanzazine (a mini starter version of Melanzane & including marinated aubergine, passata, Gran Moravia cheese & more in a little pot!) to Pork & Pancetta Croquettes served with a delicious spicy Arrabbiata sauce. And lets not forget - be still my beating heart - the ever so amazing Dough Balls Formaggi (aka cheesy dough-balls!). 

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Dough Balls Formaggi!
For main, Pizza Express have really outdone themselves. There's the delicious Carbonara (which is basically what you'd find in carbonara pasta but on a pizza instead - it doesn't sound too yummy but it's delicious, trust me!), Anatra  - a mouth-watering pizza combining pulled duck and a light plum hoisin sauce and, perhaps most exciting of all, Festiva. This pizza is the ultimate Christmas pizza and includes a creamy b├ęchamel sauce brie, mozzarella, fresh rocket, Gran Moravia cheese and more.

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Carbonara Romana (top photo) & Melanzane Romana (above)
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to stick around for the desserts (but doubt I'd have been able to eat them anyway), although from the pictures I've seen, they are just as amazing. No matter what type of sweet tooth you have, you'll be spoilt for choice between the Chocolate Tartufo, the Mince Pie Cheesecake or the - can you believe it - Snowball Dough Balls! I am gutted I did not have time to try these but I guess it means I'll just have to book myself in for a visit for when the Christmas menu launches on the 11th November....

Many of the menu options are also gluten free or suitable for vegans and vegetarians which is ideal, and Pizza Express will also have two low-calorie Leggera dishes this winter, perfect for anyone who wants to keep an eye on their calorie intake over Christmas!

I must also mention that Pizza Express are also launching their own Pizza Express Homeware range! For all you budding chefs, the range includes a pizza stone, a wooden serving platter, an oil drizzler and more. Being so cheap and coming wrapped beautifully, there's no doubt I'll be buying some of these as gifts this Christmas!


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Some goodies from the homeware range
What do you think of the Pizza Express Christmas menu? Will you be paying them a visit this winter? Let me know!

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

TRAVEL // MY TOP CITIES FOR LONG WEEKENDS AWAY

Some of us haven't yet had a holiday this year, which means the idea of a long weekend/mini break somewhere is ever so tempting this winter. I've never been a massive fan of sun or clubbing holidays and enjoy the idea of going on an adventure or visiting somewhere where I can really soak up the culture, which is probably why a city break always sounds so appealing to me. Even in the middle of winter with cold weather I think these type of mini weekends away can be really fun. And if you're really not planning to go for a full week, even a short Thursday-Monday break can be really cheap whilst still giving you enough time to get a perfect taster of a city.

Luckily it's not too late to arrange something with your girlfriends, family or other half for towards the end of this year. But the tough part is deciding where to go! Here are some places I think are definitely worthy of a little visit this autumn/winter.

AMSTERDAM
We're actually hoping to go to Amsterdam towards the end of next month and, despite what people say, I think there's a lot more to this scenic city then just drugs and sex! Amsterdam is actually really cultural and filled to the brim with museums (Anne Frank House, Van Gough Museum & Museum Van Loon are just a few) and it also has a lot to offer in terms of art galleries too. The city is super stunning with many canals, which are perfect to ride alongside on a long bike ride, and tons of open air green spaces, that some of which host free music concerts in the evenings. I'd suggest slumming it in a cheap hostel when in Amsterdam to really get a feel of the place when saving money.

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A beautiful view of Bruges from a boat tour
BRUGES
Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited and with being such a short journey away with the Eurostar, it's no doubt a place I'll definitely return to. In terms of culture, other then it's museums and galleries, the place itself doesn't have much to offer, but if you go close to Christmas then you really won't care. The stunning city is transformed into a total winter wonderland come Christmas with Christmas markets, a huge ice skating rink and even horse drawn carriage rides. The decorations are out of this world and Bruges is also great just for sight seeing. When my mum, my sister visited last Christmas we spent long walks along the canals and would definitely recommend a boat tour along them, to see an alternative view of this Belgium wonderland. We stayed in a town house kind of hotel which was right by the center and was really cheap too.

YORK
York is a little closer to home and is one of those places that will make you feel like you've traveled back in time. For lack of a better explanation, it's all very oldy worldy with lots of narrow cobbled streets and hidden gems like beautiful boutiques and an actual open-all-year-round Christmas shop. York has a rich history and you'll find yourself spoilt for choice here. There's the gorgeous York Minister, the York Castle Museum (you'll need a whole day to look around this!), the York Dungeons, and my personal favourite, Haunted - which is a genuine haunted house over 700 years old. There's also lots of outdoor stuff too such as a walk along the walls or a creepy ghost walk. If you're going to visit here then the best place to stay would be in a cosy and local B&B which are super cheap and always hosted by lovely people.

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A hidden gem found when exploring York
If you're looking to go all out, then somewhere like Paris or New York is your answer. Paris is beautiful whatever the weather but being so popular it isn't that cheap! The Gothic Quarter is particularly ideal for wandering around and the Catacombs and Monmatre should also be visited too. I've never been to New York but I really don't think there's much I can recommend because the top attractions are pretty straight forward! I will say that I'm absolutely itching to spend a Friday night watching some obscure band in a typical American dive bar though...

However, if your budget can't quite stretch to cover a weekend away in somewhere like Paris or New York then hopefully Amsterdam, York or Bruges will be on your 'must visit' list this winter! If you could go anywhere on a city break this Christmas, where would it be?! Let me know!

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