Dress of the month with boohoo

I’m always up for a challenge so when one of my favourite online brands boohoo got in touch asking if I would like to take part in their “Dress of the Month” campaign I didn’t waste much time in saying yes! The idea is quite simple, boohoo send out one of their dresses to a few selection bloggers with the idea that we all style it in our own way. All I knew before the dress arrived was that it was going to be grey- the rest was a complete surprise and one I eagerly anticipated.

Dress c/o boohoo (get it here) | Boots: Miista | Backpack: River Island (alternative)

With this kind of challenge it generally has one of two outcomes- you either love the product you’re sent to style and it becomes one of your staples OR you wear it for the blog post then it never sees the light of day again. Thankfully this dress falls in to the first category and I’ve been getting a lot of wear from this since it arrived. The dress itself is an absolute bargain at £12 and also comes in blush and black. I did opt for a size up from my usual and I am glad I did as it’s a little tight across the shoulders so if you do decide to purchase perhaps bear that in mind!

I had several ideas on how to style the dress- a sports luxe vibe with trainers and a bomber jacket, something girly with pastels galore or a toughened up look with killer boots and a statement bag. In the end the toughened up look won, I’ve been favouring that style a lot lately and really I just wanted an excuse to get this kick-ass Miista boots out in to the light of day again as I love them so much and they don’t get nearly enough wear (and yes, they still remain one of my best ever bargains at £6.50!).

So there we have it. My take on boohoo’s dress of the month. How would you have styled it?

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Celebrating the #QueensBirthday with Dr.Oetker

With the Queen turning the ripe old age of 90 this year there are various celebrations and special events going on left, right and centre. I was recently invited to take part in one with Dr.Oetker and having just about recovered from the Bunny Bums incident decided to hop on board.

Dr.Oetker have teamed up with baking expert Juliet Sear to create a rather magnificent NINE tier cake encompassing union jacks, the Queen’s crown, bunting and of course corgis.

Impressive, right? For those of us at home who love to bake but don’t quite feel up to the nine tier challenge the team at Dr.Oetker have come up with a regal themed cupcake recipe for us to bake instead…I was asked to have a go at baking the recipe but adding my own little hacks to put a different spin on things. Now, the recipe calls for fondant work which I am no expert at so before I pop up my attempt at the cakes and decoration here’s what they *should* look like!
Yeah, as you’ll see my skills aren’t quite as refined but I gave it my best shot! First up, here’s the recipe for the Strawberry and cream Royal Cupcakes (with my hacks in brackets).
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:

10 x cupcake cases
75g/3oz baking margarine
75g/30z caster sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp Dr.Oetker madagascan vanilla extract
75g/3oz self raising flour
100g/3.5oz soft set strawberry jam (I opted for lemon curd here for a citrus kick)

To decorate:

Dr.Oetker coloured ready to roll regal-ice
Dr.Oetker bright writing icing
225ml/8oz double cream (I made a simple lemon buttercream instead in keeping with my citrus theme)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 190˚C (170˚C fan assisted oven, 375˚F, gas mark 5). Put the Baking Cases in 10 fairy cake tins. Put the margarine in a mixing bowl with the caster sugar, egg and Vanilla. Sift the flour on top and using an electric whisk on a low speed, gently whisk the ingredients together.

Increase the speed and whisk for a few seconds until well blended and creamy. Divide the mixture equally between the cake cases and smooth over the tops. Bake for 16 -18 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out a neat portion of sponge from the centre of each cake and fill with jam. Press the cut out sponge back on top to seal in the jam. Set aside.

To decorate, gently knead the red and blue Ready to Roll icing separately to make pliable, then cut each into 5 pieces. Form each into a ball. Cut a deep cross in the top of each and roll the base of each ball between your fingers to make it narrower than the top – they should look like tiny chefs’ hats.

Knead 50g (2oz) of the yellow Icing to soften. Lightly dust the work surface with a little icing sugar then roll out the yellow icing thinly to form a rectangle approx. 8 x 15cm (3 x 7 inch). Cut 30 thin strips, approx. 0.5cm (1/4 inch) wide – you will need 3 for each crown. Cross 2 strips across each ball and stick in place using a little water. Trim at the base if necessary, then press down on the top of each to make an indent in the top.

Secure another strip around the bottom of each, and trim as necessary. Gather up the trimmings and make small balls to decorate the top if the crowns, sticking them in place with a little water. Pipe Writing Icing dots on each to resemble jewels. Leave aside on a board lined with baking parchment until ready to serve.

Just before serving, whip the cream until firm enough to pipe and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large closed star nozzle. Pipe a generous swirl on top of each cake and top with a crown. Your cakes are ready to serve and enjoy, and fit for The Queen!

And my cakes?
If you squint they don’t look too amateur! Let me know if you make these and we can compare!

Excitingly Dr.Oetker are also holding a competition where you can win one of FIVE four tiered versions of the Queen’s cake. To enter simply click on this link and get sharing how you’ll be celebrating. Whilst I’m at it I thought I’d share a couple of quick tips for hosting a party if that’s the route you go down…

1. Keep it Simple! No-one wants a fancy six course meal, stick to good old fashioned buffet style food (and get people to bring a dish with them). Nothing unites people more than bonding over cheese sandwiches and chocolate fingers!

2. Get Crafty! Decorating for a party needn’t be expensive, turn scraps of fabric in to bunting or dig out some old wool and make pom poms to hang everywhere. Cheap, cheerful and fun to do.

3. Save on Washing up by using paper plates and plastic cups/cutlery. Everyone’s exhausted after a good knees up and facing mountains of washing up will be a drag. Use disposable everything where possible and save precious time and energy for the celebrations.

What are your plans and tips?

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The Filofax Blogger Challenge

There are some brands that I’ve been obsessed with from a very young age and one of those has to be Filofax. I can’t explain what it is about what they do but I’ve always coveted their organisers and accessories so when they invited me to take part in a blogger challenge to celebrate the launch of their new range of tablet cases I couldn’t have been more flattered.
Filofax kindly provided me with a case for my (now practically retro) iPad3 and simply asked me to take it for a walk and snap some photos in an unusual location. Now, where I chose isn’t really that unusual but given that I have this location right on my doorstep and it was a gorgeously sunny day it made perfect sense to head down to the local beach with my best friend and iPad in tow an snap some shots.
I was sent the chic and sophisticated Saffiano Wrap Tablet case in a stunning Aquamarine colour which I just love. Sure, jazzier options are available but for me half the appeal of Filofax is their simplistic and minimal designs- for some reason I feel far more organised and efficient with something like this about my person! The case is great, it has an amazing luxury feel to it and holds my tablet securely with additional space for pens/paper/stylus which is perfect for on the go. I love the Aquamarine colour and how it seems to match in with Clevedon pier behind me. Because this acts as a stand and allows you to rotate the tablet by 360 degrees this has quickly become my go-to case both for at home and for on the go.

If you need me…I’ll be at the beach.

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#madeinsummer with Quiz Clothing

I love a good challenge, and as festival season rolls around I was contacted by Quiz Clothing about a new campaign they were running called #madeinsummer. The challenge? To take an event from the busy Summer calendar and style up the perfect outfit. The REAL challenge? Picking an event, for someone who doesn’t do much outside of working and blogging I was failing at the first hurdle. Thankfully Quiz were happy to help and picked out the Radio 1 weekend in Ibiza.

Playsuit | Hat | Sandals

Having only been to a handful of festivals in my lifetime and never any outside of this country it was a case of going in blind when picking my outfit. I knew I wanted something pretty yet practical for the hot weather and all of the dance action which is where this playsuit comes in. It’s so pretty yet has dignity saving qualities that a mini dress doesn’t. It’s also a bit less revealing that a pair of hot pants and a bikini top- that wasn’t going to happen on the blog, challenge or not!

To keep the sun off my neck (let’s just imagine I’m in Ibiza for this post) I went for a floppy sun hat, essential for 30 degree plus heat- a sunburnt and peeling face is never a good look! Footwear wise I was tempted to go for some cool wedge sandals but in the end common sense prevailed and I opted for some pretty flats which are actually comfortable enough to dance all day and all night in, blister free.

What sort out outfit would you have picked for a beach bum, sun lovers festival? All in all I think I got it about right- all I need now is the plane ticket!

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Style Challenge: Winter Pastels with Cabot Circus

I do love a good challenge, and when Cabot Circus asked me to pick out and style up my favourite trend for A/W 14 I was oh so up for it. I picked pastels as my trend (you can see SJ’s take on red here) and thought I’d have quite an easy task; oh was I wrong, pastels might be hot news for A/W but this hasn’t really filtered through to the high street yet and it was a bit of a mission to find an outfit as nothing I had seen online was in stock in the stores I visited! Still, never one to back down I resisted picking a new trend and eventually found an outfit I loved.

Dress: Topshop c/o Cabot Circus | Cardigan & Necklace: New Look c/o Cabot Circus | Backpack: Accessorize c/o Cabot Circus | Boots: Miista

I usually avoid Topshop as I don’t ever find things I like that I feel are worth the price tag. This dress caught my eye as I was racing around, just hanging innocently on the back wall. At £30 it was a really good price, it fits beautifully and is a lovely crepe fabric that will be warm enough to wear all winter with some thick tights and a cardigan. Pastel item number one? Check!
I didn’t want to over-do the pastels as together they can all look a bit sickly, this soft grey midi-length cardigan from New Look was only £19.99 and is super warm and snuggly. I’m a fiend for cardigans and have been after a longer length one for ages, I love how it looks against the dusky pink of the dress. I also grabbed this necklace in New Look as the colours work really well with the rest of the outfit and it’s great for dressing the outfit up a little. The backpack from Accessorize was an impulse purchase, I had been looking for footwear, but I’ve been after a bag like this for ages and again the soft grey works really well, and the gold zips match the necklace. I’m all for a spot of matching every now and again!

With my beautiful Miista boots on my feet I feel I did just about ok with this challenge. I went in to Cabot Circus with a vague idea of what I wanted and this wasn’t it…but it’s a very “me” outfit and I can guarantee I’ll be wearing it to death!

The whole challenge is in aid of Cabot Circus’ Fashion Fix which is happening this weekend. I’ve been to a couple of these before and they are always brilliant. Over the course of the two days there are several catwalk shows displaying all of the hottest trends for A/W. General attendance is free but you can apply for VIP seats too, right up until the 25th September (get your skates on, there are only 80!) If you manage to reserve your seat you’ll also be entered in to a prize draw to win a £50 Cabot Circus gift card (per show) so really…get going!

Cabot is probably my favourite place to shop in Bristol and this event is going to be brilliant, going from past experience. The atmosphere is always fantastic so if you’re in Bristol over the weekend then I strongly suggest you pop on down…

…See you there? I’ll be milling about on Saturday.

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