A Touch of Luxury- Nail Art Inspiration for 2017*

You wouldn’t know it from looking at my poor, neglected hands but once upon a time I was big on making sure my nails were always painted and experimented often with nail art. Getting a job in healthcare put paid to that though and despite having not worked for (what is somehow) almost a year I just haven’t got back in to the habit apart from the odd shellac manicure when I was first signed off.

I was recently sent over a copy of a great eBook put together by Ellisons which provides some interesting facts and tips when it comes to your nails- from what your favourite nail polish colour says about you to the biggest nail trends for 2017 (using essie gel from Ellisons).

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ebook redo 2017
The eBook made for a great little read and reference point- apparently my most often chosen pink nails (when I do bother) means I’m a romantic person which I kind of beg to differ on but you know…others may disagree! In terms of the nail trends for 2017 I’m relieved to see they are all wearable and achievable and are certainly inspiring me to dig out my nail polishes. With spring around the corner I can see myself attempting a pastel rainbow vibe (although perhaps not as advanced as the one I’ve pictured further up in the post), colour blocking I can totally see myself doing and once I’m back at work in an admin capacity will probably become a default whilst I make the most of being able to have painted nails at work- I’m loving the idea of a combination of nude tones complimented by navy and perhaps an off white shade.

Where do you head when you’re looking for nail inspiration and what do you think of the predicted trends in this eBook? As I said before I think it makes for a lovely little read and it’s certainly motivated me to give my hands some love.

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A Casual Wish List*

Apparently this weekend is a wish list weekend in the land of Laura, goes like that sometimes doesn’t it? New season stock is starting to land in the shops and with slight hints that Spring might be on it’s way I’ve started to think about how I’d like my wardrobe to be looking in the coming months. I’ve never really put much thought in to a casual wardrobe before now, my attention tends to go on my smarter or “trendier” clothes and dress down days end up being jeans and whatever jumper is clean at the time, but I’ve found myself drawn to a more laid back look during my browsing recently and thought I’d pop some of my favourite finds down to both provide inspiration and hopefully find out where my readers head to shop for their relaxed weekend clothing and accessories.
As I mentioned in my post yesterday I’ve got a bit of a thing for backpacks at the moment and I think they are the ultimate accessory to complete a casual look. Much like yesterday I was once again drawn to the metallic offerings on the high street with this Mi-Pac pebbled silver one with the one that has made it to the top of my list.

Breaking away from my usual attraction to either black, camel or grey coats I think this orange number from Bonmarche would be perfect for Spring weekend wearings, especially when paired with mid-blue skinny jeans (pair featured also from Bonmarche)- perhaps it is the slightly brighter weather, or that I’m just generally happier and more in love with life at the minute but bright colours are definitely the way forwards.

My obsession with Monki is probably my worst kept secret right now and whilst I am seriously wanting to own pretty much everything from their latest collections it was this ringer tee caught my attention straight away. Again perfect teamed with skinny jeans and with it’s fun and positive slogan (and the fact it only costs £10) this is definitely going to feature in my next Monki shop visit. As this last week has proven to me I am actually incapable of leaving the shop without making a purchase. Two visits in to Cabot Circus in the last seven days saw me leave with a piece or two (or three) each time. I may as well just had them my bank details and tell them to empty my account!

After spending years avoiding them I’ve become a bit of a trainers junkie. My real weakness is Converse but these embroidered beauties from Ego have wormed their way in to my heart. They would be the perfect way to make a subtle nod to the embroidery trend and I think they’ll look perfect with jeans, denim skirts, denim dresses…just about everything denim in fact. A bargain at £29.99, I really can’t justify another pair of shoes right now BUT I am sorely tempted.

Where do you head for your casual wardrobe needs? I’m still fairly new to actively seeking out more laid back pieces so guidance would be welcome.

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Re-discovering Debenhams*

During a shopping trip in to Broadmead with my mum recently we were musing over how before Cabot Circus was opened nine years ago the highlight of any retail therapy spree was undoubtedly Debenhams. Back then it was this huge, glamorous department store that we could spend hours in. We often did actually, starting with the beauty counters at the bottom and working our way up to the children’s department at the top, along with a pit stop in the restaurant. These days we often neglect to pay it a visit, tending to stick to the Cabot Circus end of the shopping area but every now and again we venture in- lured by a window display or special offer and wonder why we don’t make our visits more regular.

Not only does Debenhams stock it’s own in house brands (Red Herring was a frequent label seen in my adolescent wardrobe) there are also concessions galore- the likes of Oasis, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins. Add in to this the many designer collaborations such as H! by Henry Holland and the well stocked beauty hall with all of our favourite brands under one roof as well as the extensive range of homewares (again in-house brands, designers and well known brands alike) and you realise you really do have it all in one place.

Of course then there are the promotions, regular discount events in store and online (and often discount codes on top of that such as those found at https://www.discountpromocodes.co.uk/debenhams). I really do need to stop neglecting the shop so much and make a conscious effort to give it more custom. It’s one of the longer surviving shops on the Great British High Street, so with it fresh in my mind I’ve popped together a wish list or two to remind myself- and my readers what there is on offer.

Beauty wise I could have gone on forever as there are so many amazing looking products out there at the moment. The Urban Decay Moondust palette is a long standing fixture on my wish list, joined now by these two sets from the KVD x Toofaced sets that I’ve seen popping up on beauty blogs lately and am totally smitten with. It’s been a while since I fancied a new perfume and whilst I have no idea what it smells like (a reason to visit Debenhams next time I’m passing) I love the bottle for Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Kiss- he always produces the most beautiful packaging.
Fashion wise I am diggin’ the embroidery trend right now so this dress by Red Herring and the trainers from the Nine by Savannah Miller collection were both immediate additions to my wish list. I’m also having a backpack revival right now and this H! By Henry Holland metallic number caught my eye instantly. Lastly I’ve already made mention of my desire for a leather jacket and whilst my budget definitely doesn’t stretch to the real deal this Miss Selfridge biker style jacket is currently 30% off and a steal at just £34.30.
Whilst I was browsing I couldn’t resist putting together a little homewares wish list too (I’m seeing it as a mood board of sorts for when I move out again). It’s unashamedly girly and had to feature my dream kitchen gadget on there even if I might not get to own one for a good few years- or decades yet.
I’m feeling some serious love and a sense of nostalgia for Debenhams right now, do any shops provoke that kind of reaction for you?

Dear Debenhams, humble department store and icon of my youth, I do promise to stop neglecting you from here on out…am I forgiven?

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A Transitional Wish List*

Now we’re safely out of January it feels like Spring is on it’s way. I mean, I know it’s not and we are still in the depths of Winter (and storm Doris) but there’s something about getting that first month done and dusted that makes it feel like the end of freezing temperatures and frosty mornings is in sight. It’s also the time when the majority of retailers start to have their major new season drops causing my already rather large wish list to grow dramatically. Here are a few pieces that I’m currently loving that can be as worn easily in the Spring as they can right now.

Ankle Boots by Rocket Dog | Dress | Denim Jacket

I’d actually wear this first trio of items together as an outfit- loose fit dresses and ankle boots are my current go to anyway and I really love the clunky, almost ugly nature of this patent pair against the print of the Monki dress. A denim jacket has been on my wish list for ages, I’m yet to find the perfect one but next time I’m in town I’m going to give this one (again from Monki) a try.

Jumper | New Look | Backpack

My second trio of objects of desire is more of a mish-mash. I almost didn’t feature this M&S jumper because I’ve seen it on at least 20 other blogs in the last week alone but I can’t help but love it too. I’m also head over heels for the embroidery trend and a pair of embellished skinny jeans is high up on items I would love to add to my wardrobe (but probably won’t because I don’t intend to stay my current clothes size for long). I have no reason for adding the backpack on to this wish list. I have no need for one really, but it is delightfully retro and for that reason alone I want it.
What have you currently got your eye on? Any absolute must-have items for the months ahead? I’ve just seen some gorgeous new arrivals from Ralph Lauren and have a sudden (but not unusual for me) yearning to embrace nautical vibes once more.

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Healthier Baking Ideas*

January is not a good month to be someone who loves to bake for other people- everyone is either on some kind of new year diet or so over-saturated with the rich foods of Christmas that they just can’t face any sweet treats. With that in mind I thought I’d explore a few ideas for healthier baking, mostly simple ingredient swaps to serve (mostly) as inspiration for myself and also to inspire my fellow baking addicts- and nab your ideas for healthier cakes and biscuits too!

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One simple swap you can make is to reduce saturated fats by replacing butter with an ingredient like rapeseed oil. There are a whole host of healthy baking recipes if you click the link- I especially like the look of the date and walnut cake which of course carries the added benefits of the dried fruit and nuts.
Obviously baked goods are notoriously laden with sugar and it’s hard to avoid it completely. What you can do though is look for sweeteners that have more nutritional benefits than refined white sugar- honey, apple puree, banana or sugar alternatives such as the SugaVida I recently featured are all good substitutes.
You can improve the nutritional content of cakes and bakes by adding in ingredients such as flaxseeds (also a great alternative to egg in vegan baking) to boost fibre content as well as providing a good source of vitamins and minerals. You won’t necessarily taste the difference but the benefits will be there.
Using alternatives to standard white flour will also boost the nutritional content of your bakes- buckwheat or spelt flours will increase fibre whilst almond flour will add a protein and vitamin E boost.
Finally when it comes to topping your bakes try switching regular cream or icing for greek or natural yoghurts. There are plenty of recipes out there for healthier toppings and you’ll gain the calcium, vitamin B12 and probiotics that yoghurts provide.
I’d love to know what smart-swaps you make for healthier baked goods, I’m getting bored of not baking and would love to get experimenting on healthier treats that both myself and those around me can enjoy. I’m notorious for not eating my own creations and it’s about time I started!

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