Dressing up the Hoodie

I’ve already professed my love for the humble hoodie recently and whilst thinking of ways to wear it that wasn’t just with jeans I remembered how I saw it styled in Monki when I made my purchase. The store had paired the grey version of my sweater under a simple black camisole dress so I figured why not give it a try myself? I’m not entirely sure I’d wear it like this often, something so bulky underneath something so flimsy doesn’t give the most flattering of silhouettes but it was fun to branch out and try something new.

Hoodie: Monki (comes in loads of colours!) | Dress: Unknown but similar here | Boots: Long Tall Sally

I think the word best used to describe this set of photos would be “wonky”. In my defence almost as soon as I stepped foot outside it started to rain but knowing I wouldn’t get any other time I decided to power through hurriedly hence the slightly slanted (and headless) shots.

This dress has been hanging in my wardrobe unloved for so long I can’t even remember where it came from, I don’t really go anywhere that would require a little black slip dress but it actually fits quite nicely so I’m determined to incorporate it in to some more casual outfits- more likely with a simple tee or roll neck rather than a bulky hoodie though.

I also wanted to use this post as a chance to say thank you to those who commented or showed support on my “bad mood” post last week. It really is appreciated. If you hadn’t seen my joyful announcements on social media, on Friday I was finally told I can go back to work, starting Wednesday on (very) reduced duties so finally it feels like my hard work is reaping rewards. That makes it little bit easier to tolerate and I’ve been able to further ignite my desire to get well and get back up to my full role ASAP. Having this space on the internet where I can share my thoughts and struggles at times is invaluable and unless people start telling me they are sick of it, or don’t want to read it (although you could just click away from my blog) then I will continue to share my journey to health…a journey I only plan to undertake this one last time. I truly am so grateful for having so much support, and an incredibly supportive employer.

Has anyone else tried a hoodie under a dress like this? I really like how it looks, although perhaps a more oversized dress, or less bulky hoodie would help me feel more streamlined.

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UK Travel: Famous people of the North East- a touring guide*

There are many people who we associate with the North East of England. Join premium hotel group The Cairn Group as they look at a selection of famous people from the North East and find out why they are so well known- and where you can head to see top spots associated with them.

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1. Sir Bobby Charlton- Famous for being a part of the England football squad who won the 1966 World Cup. He was also part of the Manchester United football squad that won three Football League First Division titles as well as the 1966 Ballon d’Or winner. He also carries the achievement of most career goals for both England (49 goals) and Manchester United (249 goals) at the time of his retirement.

Whilst you would need to travel to Old Trafford in Manchester to find a statue of Sir Bobby Charlton (where he stands alongside former teammates George Best and Denis Law) he was born in Ashington- one of the largest towns in Northumberland. Football fans visiting the town should be sure to head along to the football pitch on Woodhorn Lane to see some grassroots football courtesy of Ebac Northern League Division One club Ashington Football Club (Ashington Community Football Club, Woodhorn Lane, Ashington, Northumberland, NE63 9FW or visit
http://www.ashingtonafc.com/home for further information).

This one might be worth bearing in mind for Father’s Day if your Dad is a fan!

Bryan Robson- Famous for being part of the Part of the Manchester United squad that won three FA Cups and a UEFA Cup, he also guided Middlesbrough to two promotions to the FA Premier League as well as three cup finals during his stint as manager at the North-East club.

Bryan Robson was born in Chester-le-Street although it was at Middlesbrough, in the North East where Robson achieved some of his greatest feats during his career. Therefore football fans are encouraged to head along to The Riverside Stadium to witness some thrilling Premier League action (The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, TS3 6RS or visit http://www.mfc.co.uk/club/riverside-stadium/).

3. Rowan Atkinson- Most of us know Rowan Atkinson for his roles in Blackadder and Mr Bean although his movie credentials extend to Johnny English and The Lion King. He was also the winner of the 1982 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Comedy Performance in the 1981 season.

Rowan Atkinson grew up on a farm that his father owned in Consett, County Durham. However for an exceptional glimpse into the actor’s early life you should visit the Cathedral Chorister School— it forms a part of Durham Cathedral and was also the place where former Prime Minister Tony Blair studied (The Chorister School, The College, Durham, DH1 3EL or http://www.thechoristerschool.com/ for details.

4. Robson Green- I’m fairly sure that most Mum’s of a certain generation had a soft spot for Mr Green, an actor who is most famous for his roles in TV series Soldier Soldier, Wire in the Blood and Grantchester. He was also part of musical duo Robson and Jerome where they were crowned winners of the Top Single & Album award at the 1996 Music Week Awards for Unchained Melody/White Cliffs of Dover.

Robson was born in the Northumberland market town of Hexham and raised in the North Tyneside small mining village of Dudley.He took his first steps down his acting career route by training at the Live Theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne (Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ or visit http://www.live.org.uk/).

5. Steve Cram- The track and field athlete has achieved numerous triumphs over his career with some highlights being a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and several gold medals at the 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games (to name just a few).

Steve Cram started his athletics career with Jarrow & Hebburn AC when he was just 12 years old. The club is still going strong today with their athletes, as well as others from across the North East regularly competing at Monkton Stadium (Monkton Stadium, Dene Terrace, Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, NE32 5NJ or visit
https://www.jhac.org.uk/)

If you’re ready to start your star-studded tour of the North East then The Cairn Group has a selection of fantastic hotels in Jesmond that will put you in the heart of the action. Definitely worth bearing in mind as Mother’s Day, and then Father’s Day approach.

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The Christmas 2016 Degustabox (and £7.00 discount!)

As ever it feels like no time at all has passed since my last Degustabox review and it’s even harder to believe that this time round it was the Christmas edition. This was another truly excellent box of goods (although perhaps not very festive for a Christmas box?) and I’ve very much enjoyed exploring my way through the treats on offer this month.
It’s probably quite obvious by now that the selection I tend to enjoy the most is the sweet treats selection and this month was no expection. The Butter Crisps from Jules Destrooper (£1.19) are heavenly- a light and crunchy biscuit with a rich buttery taste with hints of caramel. These are just perfect with a cup of strong coffee and I imagine they’d make excellent ice cream sandwiches too although I’m yet to try that myself. New to me were the cookie squares from Michel et Augustin (£0.89) and I had high hopes from the description…four cookie squares play host to dark chocolate and a pinch of sea salt, these are insanely moorish and fully live up to expectations. Delicious and not for sharing! Equally addictive was the Crunchy Slam Dunk Peanut Chunk bar from Broderick’s. Mouthful of a name aside this bar (£1.29) is everything that’s right with the world in my eyes. Whole roasted peanuts, rice krispies, rich Belgian chocolate and a thick layer of crunchy peanut butter this is something that every peanut butter obsessive must try at least once.
The savoury snack selection was also a winner, mostly. Personally I didn’t fancy the sound of wild thyme and rosemary crisps from Piper’s Crisps (£2.00) as I’m not a herb flavour fan but my parents really enjoyed these and I think they’d made a good addition to a festive buffet table. Ryvita are something I eat a lot of and both the caramelised onion Ryvita Thins (£1.89) and the cracked black pepper Ryvita Crackers (£1.29) were very much enjoyed- the thins are perfect for scooping up dips and the crackers for serving with a big wedge of cheese!
Tea addicts will love the light, palette cleansing taste of the citrus mint sorbet tea from Ahmad Tea and delight in the gorgeous packaging. This would look lovely in a Christmas gift hamper too although I don’t have the price information to hand. For the kiddies over Christmas these Gruffalo themed cartons of apple juice are ideal. Who doesn’t love the not so scary beast?
Jazz up your trifle with Hartley’s Glitter Jelly (£0.75 each) in either mixed berry or raspberry flavours or delight guests of all ages by serving up a sparkly jelly and ice cream dessert. I haven’t made these up yet but I just love the idea of a sparkly pudding especially over the festive period.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little perplexed by the inclusion of Hollandaise Sauce as I’m not entirely sure what it is or what you do with it. Further research makes me think it would be perfect with eggs and bacon for a Christmas morning feast and the fact that the three pouches from Christian Porter Sauce (£2.50) can be heated in ten seconds in the microwave make these the ultimate convenience food.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you’ll know I love my popcorn so the inclusion of a long term favourite cinema sweet style from Butterkist (£1.69 for a multipack) as well as a new to me flavour- Choc Mallow (£1.49) was a delight. Choc Mallow is the ultimate in indulgent yet light snacking and despite initial reservations is a pretty good flavour for popcorn. Perfect for a family night in or a movie night with friends…anyone seen my copy of ELF?
Finally we come to the drink selection, now I didn’t try either of these personally but my Dad really enjoyed both the wild berries and strawberry-lime flavours from “The Good Cider” (£1.50 per bottle) served over ice. Ideal for a party or as part of a drinks hamper for any one who likes their flavoured ciders. Mum was the recipient of J20 Glitterberry (£2.49 for a four pack) and was very excited over the prospect of a glittering drink. This is the perfect soft drink for over the festive season with it’s spiced grape and cherry flavour and fun inclusion of edible glitter that gives it a magical glow.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

Gift Inspiration: Stocking Fillers from Burt’s Bees

Who doesn’t love a bit of Burt’s Bees? Seriously, I’m yet to find anyone who hasn’t got at least one must-have product by them in their life so when their gift guide landed in my inbox and a selection of stocking fillers at my door I knew I was going to have to share.

Burt’s Bees has long been one of my favourite British Beauty Brands. Not only do their products just work (which is you know, always good) but they also do some serious good. From fresh, sustainable ingredients that nourish and protect your skin to donating 10% of every purchase to the British Bee Keeping Association this is a brand that believes in both substance AND style.

These products really are only the tip of the iceberg of what Burt’s Bees has to offer this festive season (see the full range online) and if these little crackers are anything to go by you’ve got all of your beauty based stocking fillers, indulgent treats or secret santa presents sorted!

The “A Bit of Burt’s” pomegranate gift set costs £5.99 and contains the cult favourite pomegranate lip balm as well as a little pot of lemon butter cuticle cream which happens to be one of my favourite products. I’d love to find one of these nestled in my stocking, and if pomegranate isn’t your thing then the set also comes in original beeswax, vanilla bean and coconut & pear.

Slightly more expensive at £9.99 the “Naturally Nourishing Beeswax Gift Set” contains a tube of the ultimate care hand cream (which I swear by when I’m at work and doing clinics) plus a lip balm. Again a selection of flavours are available- mango, wild cherry and vanilla bean which all sound delicious although you can’t beat the original in my eyes and it’s a safe bet for a gift for say, secret santa where you might not know someone’s flavour preferences.

Last but not least there’s a gift for the true beauty fans. Again costing £9.99 the “Nature’s Kiss” Christmas Gift set contains two pretty pink lip products- the best selling lip crayon in “Sedona Sands” and a lip shimmer in the shade “Peony”. I haven’t personally tried either of these products but I know they come highly recommended by fellow bloggers. Again this would make the ideal secret santa present or indulgent little treat to keep your lips looking great during party season!

You can buy the full range of gifts online or in stores- let me know if you pick any up and what your favourite Burt’s Bees products are in the comments.

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A Cold Shoulder

The trend for exposed shoulders has been around for a while now if my memory serves me correctly. I’ll admit, it’s one I’ve hesitated to adopt- I’m one of those people who is ALWAYS freezing so it didn’t make a lot of sense in my mind to purposely leave part of exposed to the wrath of the weather. This all changed a month or so ago when I was browsing in store at Marks and Spencer, idly picking through the sale rail not looking for anything in particular or indeed anything at all. I first picked this dress based on the print alone, and the length and the fact it has long sleeves. I didn’t notice the cold shoulders at this point but even once I did I decided that I’d take the plunge and try out yet another new style (the £15 price tag did help sway me!).

Dress: Marks and Spencer | Boots: Long Tall Sally

I’m not quite sure what’s going on with my hair here, it’s taken on a life of it’s own. It has been much neglected lately though- not even a trim since early March! Thankfully I’m booked in for both cut AND colour next week and I’m looking forward to getting a bit of a revamp. I’m not great at having my hair done, I struggle with someone being in my personal space for an extended period of time BUT I’m craving change. A new style. A new colour. A new start for me. Feel free to leave style suggestions in the comments, I think I know what I’m going for but I’m still open to ideas…

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