Victorian Gothic

DSC0538223DSC05387I know it’s become a bit of a blogger cliché but I really do love this time of year, from the colours, to the scenery, to Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. Not to mention that with its lashings of lace and delicate style, the current Victorian Gothic trend is one of the prettiest, not to mention most fitting and versatile trends to have arrived in recent months. So I thought I’d take the chance to showcase the beautiful scenery and my interpretation of how I’ve turned this trend into a daily wearable look.
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Shirt: Marks and Spencer (similar here or here).Varsity Jacket:Vintage, Jeans :Topshop (here), Backpack: New Look (similar here and here)

With some help from my beautiful friend Hollie (who can take a pretty mean photo I’m sure you’ll agree), this has been one of the most enjoyable posts I’ve ever done. I really hope you enjoy it too and it has given you some inspiration, and please let me know if you’d like to see some more fashion posts on here.

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Perfect Movies For Cozy Autumnal Nights

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There’s something about Autumn that conjures thoughts of thick jumpers, crunchy leaves, hot drinks and curling up in front of the TV. With the change in the weather there’s no better feeling than staying inside and escaping into a great film with a cosy blanket. So I thought it was the perfect time to share with you some of my favourite films that really get me in the Autumnal mood.

500 Days of Summer

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Although the film takes place throughout the four seasons, without spoiling the ending, if you’ve seen it you’ll know exactly what makes it perfect for the transition to from Summer to Autumn. Not to mention the soundtrack is perfect at encapsulating the hope and reflection that Autumn brings.

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

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It could be argued that every Harry Potter film is perfect for Autumn but I think it’s the detailed, extravagant Great Hall scenes in the first film that really emphasise all the beautiful seasonal colours. Plus who doesn’t feel festive when they hear the Harry Potter theme tune?

Dead Poets Society

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This is one to spur you on as you start the new school year and leave you wishing every teacher could be as inspiring as Robin Williams. As an English graduate I love this film on a deeply nerdy level and the autumnal setting will leave you wanting nothing more than to make the most of those beautiful Autumn days.

When Harry Met Sally

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This is one of the great Rom-Com classics that epitomises the romantic element of Autumn in Harry and Sally’s beautiful walk through Central Park. Although the pinnacle of the film takes place on New Years Eve it’s those autumnal scenes that you remember and who doesn’t love a bit of romance on these cold Autumn nights.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

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In true Wes Anderson style this is one of the most beautiful films on the list to watch with its entire spectrum of oranges, reds and yellows creating the perfect Autumnal world to escape into. One of the best adaptations of Roald Dahl’s books it’s a heartwarming tale mixed with adventure and a great one to watch with family and friends.

Rushmore

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Another Wes Anderson entry but what can I say, when the man picks an aesthetic he runs with it. Jason Schwartzman plays precocious student Max Fischer and although it’s not a film for everyone’s tastes, it beautifully covers the whole Autumnal season through to Christmas. Plus it has Bill Murray in it, and who doesn’t love a Bill Murray movie!

St Elmo’s Fire

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Another one that is very close to my heart as it is about a group of recent college graduates, and is one of the most often forgotten 80’s movie for no good reason. The final scene where they walk off into the night perfectly reminds you that there’s nothing better than wrapping yourself up against the cold, and that no matter what you always have your friends to count on.

Autumnal Spiced Apple and Plum Pie

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There’s something about the change in the weather that immediately has me reaching for a cookery book. After  a bit of tinkering I came up with this, my spiced apple and plum pie which is to me epitomizes everything that’s good about Autumn.

This is the best season for plums and mixed with the apples and spices they combine to make a pie that’s perfect for a winter treat, and one that always proves a hit with my family and friends! Not  to mention that there’s something just so comforting about a slice of pie with custard of ice cream that makes it the food equivalent of a hug, and the perfect medicine to chase those winter blues away.

What You’re Going To Need

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For the Short Crust Pastry

255g plain flour

Pinch of salt

140g hard butter

6 tsp cold water

For the Filling

5 Cooking Apples

2 Sweet Apples (I used Braeburns but any sweet apple would be just as good)

6 Plums (You can add slightly more or less depending on taste)

2 1/2 Tbsp of Cornflour

175g of Sugar (I prefer golden caster as it gives it a caramely taste)

155g of Brown Sugar (I used Demerara which is also perfect for giving a caramel flavour)

2tsp of Cinnamon

1 tsp Nutmeg (About 2 good pinches)

Milk to glaze

Then it’s time to get down to business!

For the pastry I cheated and sifted my flour and salt into my food processor and added the butter until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor just use your fingers instead, they work just as well! Slowly add the water until the mixture is combined then tip the pastry out onto a floured surface and lightly knead. Then clingfilm it and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool and relax the dough.

Then it’s time to prepare the filling. After peeling the apples core them and the plums, then loosely chop them and throw them into a deep saucepan. Add the sugar, cornflour and spices until the fruit has softened and the juices have combined to form a caramely liquid. Once the liquid had thickened and the fruit has softened take the fruit off the heat.

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and remove a third for the topping. I prefer my pies to be open topped so I only removed about a quarter but feel free to decorate however you want! Roll out the pastry and line your tin (tip using the rolling pin to help you lift the pastry makes it much easier), then line it on top with greaseproof paper and baking beads, and pop it in the over for about 10 minutes. As you can see I didn’t have any baking beads so I improvised with linseed but rice works just as well.

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Once it’s slightly coloured, remove the beads and paper from the pastry and glaze it with your milk. Cook it for a further 5 minutes until the pastry is fully dried out.

Meanwhile you can roll out the lid or decoration for your pie, and once it’s out of the oven you can fill and top it! I like to use a slotted spoon as it’s great to remove the excess liquid that can make your pie soggy, then I add my lid or decoration and bake it for 40-45 minutes. But make sure if you’re using a lid you mark a hole in the top to let the steam escape.

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But then voila, an autumnal spiced pie, perfect for those cold winter evenings, all that’s left is to serve it up!Af.

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I hope you enjoyed this post as I’m really trying to get back to posting recipes as I really enjoy it and Winter recipes are some of my favourites to make. I would love to know if any of you give it a go and what you think, or even your favourite recipes as I’m always on the look out for new ones!

Music Musings

2121I know, I’ve finally got round to writing another music post! This past year seems to have been one of the best times for Pop music with so many great songs being released, so I thought I’d share with you again the songs that have been getting the most play on my Ipod right now!

Demi Lovato- Confident
I have been a hard-core Demi Lovato fan since her Camp Rock days and I am so happy to see her back on form looking happier and healthier than ever. Cool For The Summer was pretty much my Summer anthem and Confident is definitely going to take me through to Autumn. The perfect pre-party song guaranteed to make you feel like an absolute bad-ass, it’s another sultry, powerful song like her previous single and has left me counting down the days till the whole album is released.

Rachel Platten- Fight Song
I’m definitely on a bit of an anthem song hype at the minute which is largely down to this song. Rachel Platten has been trying for years to hit the big time and it’s so obvious by the raw emotion behind the lyrics which are so passionate and uplifting, it makes me smile everytime I hear it. As a recent graduate I’m definitely at one of the most uncertain times in my life and as cheesy as it is, this song makes me believe that it’ll all be okay in the end.

Ellie Goulding – On My Mind
This is the newest release on the list but from the first listen I have been absolutely hooked and had it on repeat ever since. Whether it’s about Ed Sheeran or not it’s the perfect revenge song, while the guitar melody and Ellie’s haunting voice perfectly combines with the r&b style beat to create a sexy, yet club ready anthem.

Selena Gomez- Same Old Love
Another example of my childhood as a Disney fan-girl here but I have been obsessed with Selena Gomez’s new mature, adult sound, which is evident in this song. Much like Good For You it’s a more understated melody focusing on her voice, and while I don’t think it’s the best song she’s ever done, the message is one everyone can relate to. Trust me after one play you’ll be singing it on repeat for days.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as I realise pop music isn’t to everyone’s taste but I hope I’ve encouraged some of you to give something new a listen, and as always I would love to know what songs you’ve been loving this month!

Leopard Print Shoes Two Ways

DSC036612Leopard print shoes are one of the most must-have A/W items this season with everyone from New Look to Net-A-Porter bringing out their own versions. From Beyonce to Fearne Cotton, to Harry Styles there’s nothing like a pair of leopard print shoes to make you instantly cool. But animal print is also one of those things that if not styled correctly can look a little Pat Butcher so I thought I’d share with you a couple of the ways I thought they can be worn for a casual everyday look.
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I love this combination because it combines both my favourite leather jacket and jeans (where would we be without Jamie Jeans), but the shirt gives a slightly smarter element as well as bringing a dash of colour to the outfit. Plus did I mention the shoes were only £4!  DSC036982DSC036992 DSC038202 DSC038372

My second look is a more casual basic look with my favourite breton print dress, my Rayban wayfarers and the classic life saver of black tights. I’d also wear it with my cropped denim jacket (which I may or may not have forgotten) and just a dash of casual red lippy.

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Dress: H&M (similar here and here), Sunglasses: Rayban,

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I had a couple more ideas for how to wear this (so tell me if you want to see those anytime soon) and was surprised at just how wearable these shoes are. Granted I don’t think I’ll be reaching Sienna Miller or Harry Styles level of cool quite yet but it’s definitely encouraging me to try some new things and take some risks when it comes to some of my fashion purchases.

When You Get The Sads

tumblr_naulxpkFiP1r31h9jo1_500It seems to me that one of the main downsides to the sun disappearing means that we all tend to get, as my Mum used to call them the ‘sads’ a lot more. While Winter is full of some of my most favourite things such as Halloween, pumpkins, warm cosy socks, open fires and hot chocolate, it’s also full of colder days and nights, grey skies and rain, which can sometimes make the good things just a little bit harder to remember. So when the times get tough, I get my sound of music on and try to remember my favourite things. So here they are and I hope they might help and inspire you to find your own winter warmers to make the season just a little less sad .

  • My favourite food- Currently a toss up between Tesco’s garlic mash potato or M&S’s creamy chicken pie, or if I’m lucky enough to be at home my Mum makes the ultimate creamy chicken risotto, hmm. But comfort food is a well known phrase for a fact as I have never had a mood that couldn’t be at least slightly improved with some good food.
  • Anything cosy- fact, being warm automatically improves my mood, so I grab my fluffy slippers, bathrobe and blanket and bundle myself up nice and tight. When you’re cosy everything seems a world away, perfect for dealing with sadness or stress.
  • A little touch of escapism- whether it be through music, film, TV or a book, if you’re feeling crappy then there’s nothing like escaping and just letting yourself get lost in something outside of your current reality, at least for a little while.
  • Relaxation- whatever your own personal form is, mine is a bubble bath followed by a cup of tea surrounded by candles, everyone needs to de-stress. This is a key part of my beat the blues formula, as calming yourself down is the first step to making yourself feel better, and looking at your issues with a clear and relaxed mind makes everything a lot easier to deal with.

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
C. JoyBell C.

Winter Haul

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So am I the only one that thinks that as soon as the calenders turned to October it suddenly became winter? I decided that with a change in weather comes a change in wardrobe, so with my student card in tow I hit up my top 5 stores and prepped myself for the onslaught of rain and cold in the best way possible.

So first things first, jumpers. Topshop is my ultimate one stop shop for these as they always have a massive variety of colours, sizes and patterns so I went for these two adorable ones; one that gives a pop of colour and whimsy that Winter most definitely need, and this because it was SO SOFT!

Next to stock up on was the winter warmer accessories so I went with a black beanie, wide brim hat to take care of those bad hair days and these boots to provide protection against puddles.

Zara is another great place for Winter staples and I picked up this adorable top which combines my three loves; collars, stripes and statement jewellery. It’s the perfect mix for casual cute daytime looks or an evening date, which definitely helped justify this purchase.

Also am I the only one who’s found that the yearly long hard slog for a new winter coat has been made extra hard this season, considering everything seems to be a parka or a super long? Well fear no more as when I came across this miracle of black wool gorgeousness it was a match made in heaven. It sits just above the knee, and is the perfect mix of fitted while loose enough to fit a jumper underneath, so yep, perfect.

Miss Selfridge is not a usual haunt but recently has been winning me over especially with this cute 90’s crop top, which may not be the most sensible winter option but it was just too damn cute to say no. And by wearing it with these high waisted black jeans makes it the most uber flattering, day to night outfit for even the most low key of girls.

To finish up my wardrobe reformation I picked up from ASOS this adorable heart necklace, which will add a perfect glam update to any winter jumper, and this statement necklace from Zara for a fancier look. Finished with this perfect winter nail from Essie and my ultimate berry lip from Nars, and come rain or shine you’re ready to look your best no matter what!

The Bronzer That Will Keep You Glowing All Autumn Long

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I’ll admit until I started properly getting into makeup in the past two years I thought bronzer was the devil. I had seen too many bronzer gone wrong scenarios when the dirty streak look had appeared and was convinced that I, as a pale ginger, was the epitome of who bronzer was not made for. Not to mention the fact that I’d never been able to find one to fit my skin tone. But oh how wrong I was. With my Birchbox a few months ago I received this bronzer from Collection 2000 and I’ll admit although I am usually dubious of the cheaper makeup brands in terms of quality, but after experiencing the greatness of their lasting concealer, I had high hopes for the brand.
From the outlook, the mix of darker browns with peachy pinks, as well as the stereotypical warm tan colours of typical bronzers makes it look a lot less daunting to a bronzer virgin like myself. So I armed myself with my favourite MAC 168 brush I set about applying it to my cheekbones as well as around the corners of my face, chin and neck. And it was great. I mean really, really great. The mix of colours in the palette means that instead of one block colour swatch, it mixes together to create a more natural looking contour on the skin, not to mention the pigmentation is perfect to make it easy to build depending on how strong a sculpted look you want.                                                                                                                                         But the best part of the whole thing, is the fact that when I went back to buy another after having finished my first one, I headed to Boots to find it was £2.99. So whether you want to keep your tan looking fresh or whether you just want a little bit of a holiday glow, with a price tag like that what are you waiting for?!

Winter Wears

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As the nights slowly grow darker earlier and the jumpers start being pulled out, it’s a sure fire sign that Summer is on its way out and Autumn’s here to stay. So to make the most of the sunshine while it lasted I grabbed my dress and hat and headed for the river. With my Topshop lace dress providing the pop of colour that will carry me through the dark winter days and the lace detailing around the middle and neckline, makes it the perfect dress to go from day to night.

My excitement when I found this hat in Topshop was uncontainable as my larger head means I had long accepted the fact the no hat ever did, or ever would look good on my head until I placed this miracle of millinery on. With H&M providing the perfect black pumps, and the bag I’ve nicknamed Mary Poppins thanks to its ability to fit everything and anything I need to carry in it, it’s my perfect come rain or come shine outfit. So bring on Autumn, whatever you have it store, I’m ready for you!

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Music Musings For August

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Now before I go any further I feel I have to confess something. I am not a music fan, shocking I know. I mean don’t get me wrong I have had my brief dalliances with musical soundtracks and enjoy a bit of top 40 when I’m out on the town, but I’ve never been the type of girl that has the pure dedication and perseverance to hunt down the up and comers of new music.

But what with the recent bouts of sunshine I have found myself out and about a lot more, and what is an adventure without a soundtrack? So here are the four songs this week that have been completely dominating my headphones.

Nicki Minaj- Anaconda

This strikes a pretty different tone from the remaining three but after being a big fan of her previous offerings, Minaj doesn’t slow down with her current single. Although it probably seems pretty obvious from the single artwork the video is pretty NSFW but with some strong female messages as well. Aside from my personal admiration for Minaj’s no holds barred approach to the music industry, the song peaks with it’s catchy chorus and its instantly memorable one-liners means it’s one that will feature heavily in my gym and club playlists.

Bastille- Bad News

The first song of their upcoming EP Oblivion, this has left me with high hopes on their new offering matching up to the awesomeness of Bad Blood, which is one of my all time favourite albums. This is definitely a tune that has got me looking forward to the darker days and longer nights of Autumn, with its bass heavy formula and eerie vocals that encapsulate Bastille at their finest. With a simple yet effective video which offers a kaleidoscope of clips intermitted with the lead singer walking down a grimy corridor, it’s places the focus on the song, while making it impossible for you to tear your eyes away.

Taylor Swift- Shake It Off

The fourteen year old in me will forever be loyal to Taylor Swift’s role in helping me to evade the pitfalls of puberty and providing the perfect consoling soundtrack when I didn’t. The fact that I’ve grown up with her means I’ve seen and admired her development from her country roots days to her new single, which she admits is off the album she’s described as “her first documented pop album”. Although her new single certainly isn’t her most lyrically challenging the catchy chorus and feel good video means it’s perfect for chasing away those end of summer blues.

Haim- My Song 5 ft. A$ap Ferg

Although this song was a prominent feature of their 2013 album ” Days are Gone”, this recent release with the new verse from A$ap Ferg is bringing it to prominence in my most played charts again. The erratic beat which seems to lurch through the song and heavy bass creates a sexy presence in the song, making this one of the coolest break up songs ever. This is reflected in the video which spoofs American talk shows such as the like of Jerry Springer, and with guest stars such as Grime, Kesha and Ezra Koening it’s a perfect mix of the mundane and unexpected which perfectly encapsulates Haim’s laid back cool brand of music. It’s a break away from the upbeat Californian melodies they’re perhaps better known for, but with winter on its way and Hail providing the perfect winter look to encapsulate, it’s the perfect song to blast while you walk through the cold and project your inner badass. At least know I will be!