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Thursday, 27 February 2014

a marilyn moment

In the last month or so, I've been taking the time to put more effort into my blog.  The one thing I envy most about other bloggers is their photography, it's something I know nothing about, and while the boy can take a good photo, it's me whose learning about more about editing and improving them, and I'm really starting to see I difference.  I think my blog has come on in leaps and bounds in terms of photography in the last 6 months, and I hope you would all agree.

And for the first time ever, I really like this whole set of blog photos for this post, it's  not often I'm totally happy with them all.  Don't read that as, 'I think I look great' because I don't, I just think the images are brighter, sharper and much more attractive than my previous ones, and for that I think me, and the boy, deserve a good pat on the back.

 heart dress fashion blogger

 heart dress fashion blogger

 heart dress fashion blogger
Dress - New Look
Boots - Hush Puppies
Belt - Dahlia

You may recognise this dress if you've been reading this little ol' space for some time, I featured it here, way back in April 12, and I just discovered it again at the weekend - read 'discovered', pulled from the depths of despair, aka, my 'secondary' wardrobe (yes, I have 2). 

And while we're looking back at that post from yonder years, I think we can all agree, that the photography skills have improved even just a little since then.

 heart dress fashion blogger marilyn

Oops, Hello Sailor!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

a healthy life - week 7

I'm starting to learn that this healthy eating mission certainly comes with it's ups and downs, and it's about staying focused and maintaining motivation that's more important than what the scales are saying.

This week I've put on a pound and a half, and I can't understand how.  Yes, I will fully admit that Saturday night I put the healthy eating on hold while I 'slightly' over indulged, ok, a little more than slightly but I didn't go all out, eating everything in sight.  But the rest of the week I'd been really, really good, tracking all my calories and not going over board.  So putting weight on, has been, to tell you the truth, a real kick in the balls.   Particularly now as it means I'm no longer at my half a stone goal!

But enough dwelling, after Saturday nights extravagance, I've started this week with a new focus.  I have a new goal in place, and that's to get to the weight I was aged 21 and a young spring chicken partying in Ibiza.  I've often looked back to those photos longing to look like that again.  That's a whole 3 pounds away, not unrealistic! 

I'm printing more healthy recipes off the internet, and I did my first blogilates session last, that's some killer stuff.  My legs and stomach muscles are paying for it today.  I know I should really be focusing on the cardio rather than the strength to help me lose pounds, but me and cardio don't really get along, so for now I'm focusing on the fact I'm actually doing something, and improving my tone and flexibility.

And yes, I have more appreciation for the fact it's not going to be easy, I'm not going to see immediate results, and there will be some weeks when I just think 'how did that happen', but I'm sticking at it, 7 weeks now...and counting, and I'm constantly on the lookout for further inspiration and hitting small goals to keep me going. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

stylist's trend on trial, trialled: contouring - take 2

beauty blogger blonde make up contouring

This is the second time I've given contouring a go in my Trend on Trial posts, but Stylist were re-visiting it, so I thought I would too.  Plus, I now have the correct tools (hello Sleek contouring kit), and it's something I've started doing a regularly as part of my 'going out out' make up routine.  So this should be an improvement on my latest's hoping.

I've now learnt to blend (oh yeah!), highlight specific areas and sharpen others.  I've gone for a fairly subtle look in these photos...(sorry, I was heading to Dunelm Mill), but it's easy enough to use the same techniques and just turn up the volume...Kim Kardashian eat your heart out.

 beauty blogger uk blonde make up contouring
This was one Trend on Trial that the Stylists girls all agreed on, all three of them liked it, which is a very occurence! And I totally agree, I've always thought of myself has having quite a big round face, with cheekbones  apparently hiding somewhere under there, but using your make up to contour really actually makes them appear, from the depths of despair.    

I think it's safe to say I've come along way since I last tried it, and obvious to say that this is one Trend on Trial I will be putting in practice on regular occasions, and if like too think you've been damned with chubby cheeks, then I definitely suggest giving this a go.

Friday, 21 February 2014

salted caramel chocolate torte

I know, I know, I've been filling this little space recently with details about my healthy lifestyle, but everyone is entitled to a 'cheat' day, plus I couldn't have guests round for dinner without making a dessert now could I?

So yes, this is what it was supposed to look like, whereas mine is more, how should I put it..the rustic version, but that does not affect the taste, and boy does it taste good!  Well so it should, at over 900 calories a slice...and yes, you read that right, 900 CALORIES A SLICE. 

(You can find the recipe here if you want to know what it's supposed to look like)


175g digestive biscuits
85g butter, melted
397g can caramel (we used Carnation caramel)
1 tsp sea salt, plus extra to serve
300g plain chocolate (70% solids), broken into chunks
600ml tub double cream
25g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Line the base of a deep, round 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a circle of baking parchment. Line the sides with one long strip that comes just above the sides of the tin – staple or paper clip where the strip overlaps to hold it in place.

2. Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag or bowl with the end of a rolling pin. Stir into the melted butter, then evenly press into the bottom of the tin. Chill for 10 mins.

3. Reserve 2 tbsp of the caramel. Stir the sea salt into the remainder and spoon into the centre of the biscuit base. Gently spread so the base is evenly covered but a visible 1-2cm border of biscuit remains around the edge. Chill for 20 mins while you make the chocolate layer.

4. Gently melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir 1 tbsp of the cream into the reserved caramel, then cover and chill until ready to decorate. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat but leave the bowl where it is, and gradually stir in the remaining cream until you have a smooth, shiny, thick chocolate sauce. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in with the vanilla extract. Lift off the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 mins.

5. Ladle or pour the chocolate mixture around the edge of the torte first, so it fills the biscuit border, sealing the caramel in the centre. Then ladle or pour in the rest and gently shake to smooth the surface. Chill for at least 5 hrs or up to 24 hours until firm.

6. Remove the torte from the tin, then carefully peel off the strip of paper and transfer to a serving plate. Dot the chocolates on top. Spoon the reserved caramel-cream mixture into a small food or freezer bag. Snip off the tiniest tip of the corner to make a very small opening, then squiggle lines of caramel over the top. Chill until ready to serve. Scatter with a pinch or two of sea salt before serving, then thinly slice. Eat with a drizzle of single cream, if you like.

You'll notice I also left the chocolates off the top, I figured with two bars of chocolate, a whole tub of cream and a can of caramel, it really wouldn't need to chocs too!

I think it's fair to say, it went down pretty well.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

parisian chic? maybe not...

 black and white stripes

Top - H&M
Jeans - Topshop
Boots - New Look
Necklace - ASOS

When I put this outfit on, I just assumed I was going to radiate Parisian chic, what with the stripped top and red lip.  But somehow the outfit just doesn't have give off quite the 'je ne sais quoi' I was hoping for, in fact, I don't think I'll be wearing it again any time soon.  I wish I could blame my photographer...but maybe I should sack the stylist!

Still ignoring the tragic fringe issues I'm having at the moment, what can I say? I have a cow lick, and I just don't know what to do with it! I think my hair looks pretty good?! Check out the bounce in those curls...I wish I could say I just work up and it looked like that, for the record, it very much did not.

Now, I'm off to google 'how to handle a cow lick', and 'how to channel Chanel, the Parisian way'.

But before I you like my catalogue pose?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

a healthy life - week 6

I've done it, I've reached my first goal...half a stone lost! Well, 8lbs if I'm going to be precise.  

And I'd quite like to just sit and take a moment to be proud of myself.  It's taken me 6 weeks to get here, and it hasn't been easy, but it's been the most motivated I've been on any diet, and I'm sticking at it!  I think firstly, the myfitnesspal app has been a BIG help, it's really kept me on track, usually I'd think that little biscuit here, and a slice of cake there wouldn't matter, but when you're actually tracking the calories in front of you, it definitely makes you think twice.

On top of that I've had good motivation from family, friends and you lovely lot on Twitter.  So big thanks to those of you who have been keeping me going.  

They say it takes 4 weeks for you to notice you're body changing, and 8 weeks for your friends and family to notice.  I've definitely noticed a change, and I'm feeling more confident in myself.  And at week 6, the boy and my mum have said they can tell I've lost weight...but they have to say that, don't they?!

So now it's a case of setting my next goal...I'm still aiming to work on the some point.  I went for a walk on Sunday, that's a start, right? If any of you can suggest some good ways to help me start my fitness journey I'd really appreciate it, I HATE running with a passion, well in fact, I hate most exercise, but I know I have to start somewhere, so any youtube vids or fitness plans you can send my way, would be much appreciated!

And if anyone else is on a weight loss/fitness journey, I'd love to hear how you're getting on....

Saturday, 15 February 2014

stylist's trend on trial, trialled: bridal hair


Trend on Trial is back!! After it's *ahem* year long sabbatical I'm bringing it back with a bang!

Just a quick update for those that don't know, Stylist Magazine regularly do a feature where there beauty team try out the latest catwalk trends, I enjoyed them so much, I started giving them a go myself.  And just for the record, they're not always a success.

It would seem that the catwalks have been playing close attention to the hair this season, and adorning do's with silk flowers and delicate headbands seemed to be the way to go.

Given that I'm getting married next  year (have I mentioned that?!) it seemed only natural to re-launch my Trend on Trials with the 'bridal hair' look.  Unfortunately though, I didn't have quite the delicate ivory and blush roses to sample with, so my look's a little more....bold?

I started with the up do, trying to re-create something similar to the Zac Posen look, and while you can't deny that it's not super pretty, it's just a little more OTT shall we say, than my usual dressed down Saturday look.

So I decided to try and  make it a little more natural, letting my hair down and ruffling it up a bit, might make me look like one of those ethereal types who just end up with flowers in their hair wherever they go.  Yeah, that didn't seem to work either.  Don't get my wrong, I love the floral crowns that are doing the rounds at the moment...I just think paired with my usual attire of jeans and battered converse, something just isn't quite working here!

 So what do you think? will you be giving the bridal hair look a go? Unfortunately I don't even think I'll be rocking this to walk down the aisle.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

another grey dress..

Two outfit posts in a row now that have featured a grey jersey dress, black studded boots and a few carefully selected accessories.  But like I said in my last outfit post, these H&M dresses are my go-to wardrobe faves at the moment, in I type this I'm wearing the purple version of the one I featured last week.  I just can't get enough of them!

But hey I'm sure I'm not the only one who lives in the same thing for weeks on end, only to then purchase something new to replace that last piece...and so it goes on!

I thought it was about time my jewellery got a bit more attention over here.  This necklace has been a lifesaver since I bought it over Christmas.  After seeing a client wearing it and asking where she'd got it, I quickly hotfooted it to Topshop to pick it up, meaning I've been able to spruce up a few simple outfits of late.  And it always gets a comment or two, and why not?! Look at it! Talk about liking a bit of chunk.

And of course the Kors.  This beauty was something I'd been saving up for and decided I'd treat myself when in New York, well, it meant saving a few cheeky pennies with the exchange rate.  But, I only happened to walk into the shop at the same time as the 'Sex and the City' Tour, only for the shop assistant to assume I was with them and gave me a 20% discount, talk about a result!! In hindsight...I should have bought two.

I'm also hoping the jewellery will detract from my fringe, yes I'm still battling with it, and haven't caved and got it cut back in...yet! These pictures really show how bad it looks at the moment though, but I'm determined to keep going for now.  I need to let it grow a bit first before I get my hairdresser to tidy it up a bit too, so for now, the pain must go on.

Dress - H&M
Leggings - American Apparel
Watch - Michael Kors
Necklace - Topshop

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

a healthy life - week 5

Well I knew I was going to have the weekend off, and allow myself to indulge a little.  However, a little turned into A LOT, and the scales very much agreed this morning.  I've managed to put on a pound and half, just from three days of laying off the diet. A POUND AND A HALF??

Ok, so laying off the diet meant pretty much eating anything and everything I could get my hands on, from cheese, to cake, to hot chocolate, cider, pasta, more cheese, wine, chocolate, oh and you know, a nice light curry to end the weekend.  And I knew I wouldn't have lost any weight, but I didn't expect quite the increase.

But, I'm not going to let it stop me, I'm going to get back on track, back to calorie counting and hope that come this time next week, I've at least leveled off again. I'm still working towards my half a stone goal, then once I've hit that, I'm going to start on the fitness side of my New Years Resolution.

I'm constantly looking out for new recipes ideas to keep things interesting, there's only so many stir fry's I can take.  And I've found following other bloggers who are on the same journey really helps keeps me motivated and inspired.  I mentioned Lydia's blog a couple of weeks ago, so I thought i'd bring up another two favourites tonight:

I've been a WAMK fan for a long time now, in fact I even guest posted for them many moons ago.  But this site is great to give you motivation from all aspects, with recipes to exercise tips to personal journeys, and because they feature so many different areas of 'healthy living' there will always be a post to interest you.  Plus, I'm biased because a few of my blogg-ey faves regularly pop up with their latest weight loss (or gain!) news.  But by being honest, and admitting when they've had tough weeks, makes you realise you're not the only one facing that challenge!

Keep up the good work ladies!

Again, another blog I've been a reader of for some time, and while Sophia's main focus of her blog is not healthy eating or fitness and weight loss, but the best place to head if you want an honest make up review, she recently posted about her personal weight loss.  And I'm definitely going to be regularly checking back to see how she's getting on.  It's not easy to post about things like weight on a public forum, which is why I wanted to mention Sophia to show that she's helping to motivate others, and encourage her to keep at it!
So thank you Sophia for your motivation!

So back to my plate of vegetables, and let's hope next week brings a better number on those scales. I guess I should start thinking about that exercise I've been promising too, huh?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

tartan and grey

H&M have got a lot to answer for at the moment.  What I previously considered a rather eclectic outfit palette, has recently become a jersey dress, in a variety colours, shapes and sizes, accessorised with various different necklaces, scarves, watches and shoes.

I'm not complaining, I am LOVING these simple pieces, and it makes getting ready in the morning much easier.  Previous morning conversations with myself went:
'Which one of my 52 dresses, 17 skirts and 31 blouses should I wear today, and if I wear that one, does it go with this one?'

  Now, the conversation goes:
'Hrmmm, grey or purple, long sleeves or short sleeves'  

So what I'm basically trying to say is, you'll be seeing a lot more of outfit posts not dissimilar to this one, because when the dresses start at £7.99, it would be rude not too, right?! Yes, I do now own 4...what of it?

Enough of the dresses, let's talk about the hair.  I've decided to begin the arduous task of growing out my fringe.  I don't want to, I love my fringe.  But I've got it into my head that when I'm walking down the aisle in 15 and a half months (yes, we have booked a date, eeeek!!) I may want beautiful flowing locks, or a classic up do, that isn't being ruled and overwhelmed by my thick fringe.  

6 weeks in, and I'm fed up, I miss my fringe, I look back at photos longingly convincing myself to give up and get it hacked back in.  But something in the back of my mind is nagging me that if I stick at it for now, and come next January in 12 long months time, then I can make the decision to fringe or not to fringe?!

It's going to be a long twelve months....

Dress - H&M
Scarf - Primark
Boots - Ebay

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

a healthy life - week 4

Let's just bury this week and pretend it never happened, right? 

Ok, I'm being a bit melodramatic, this week started well.  Knowing I had a big night on Saturday, I remained really focused all week, calorie counting and staying on track.  Then Saturday night happened.  And Guiness Cake happened.  Oh, and the baking of Guiness Cake happened, which seemed to involve a lot of bowl licking.  And then the left over Guiness Cake on Sunday, Monday and a slither on Tuesday also happened. 

 And I'm holding said Guiness Cake fully accountable for my measly half a pound weight loss this week.  I know, half a pound is still better than nothing, and I shouldn't be so negative.  But earlier in the week, I'd had a cheeky mid-week weigh-in.  Not something I usually advocate, as I think a weekly weigh in is much more accurate...(I like to pretend I'm at my own Weight Watchers meeting) but I was feeling particularly sleight this morning, so stepped onto the scales to see a pound and a half weight loss!  

And I was chuffed, like REALLY chuffed, I even ran to the boy to tell him.  It meant I only had half a pound to go to reach this Saturday's goal.  I now have a pound and a half to lose, in 4 days, unless I go on a ridiculous juice diet, that isn't going to happen.

I'm also blaming all the Carlisle Bloggers I'm meeting tonight, we're heading out to a bar that does meals that probably contain no-less than 12 billion calories per meal.  Think pulled pork, burgers, mac n cheese...all the good stuff.

I need to get back focused, I need to start exercising (the bane of my life) and I need to pray for a miracle! Ok, I'm being melodramatic again.  I need to be realistic.  I'm away all weekend with friends, brunch on Saturday and a meal out in the evening isn't going to help me hit that half a stone goal.  So I'm going to be content with my, almost, 6lb weight loss.  Relax and enjoy my weekend, and start again come Monday.

So I didn't reach my goal, but I wasn't far off...I guess I just have to really think about this exercise malarkey now so that the Guiness Cake incident doesn't have to happen again.

Oh, did I forget to mention the squats and abs have come to a complete stop? I said it had been a bad week!

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