Friday, 24 October 2014

OOTD: Brown and Yellow Polka Dots

Today's outfit is one I wore back at the beginning of September when the weather was still hot and it still seemed acceptable to wear pastel yellow. It seems so long ago now!

I had been playing dress up that day, trying different colours with my new Lindy Bop brown polka dot Audrey dress. I don't usually find it difficult to pair colours together, but my wardrobe is lacking in colours that compliment brown, like rust, mustard, chocolate, and dusky pink, so I started experimenting with other colours. That's how this unconventional brown and yellow combo came about. 

And... I look like I'm wearing the Brownies uniform from the early nineties! I'm just missing the sash! Does anybody remember how vile the colour of the culottes and trousers was? It looked like bile! I remember always hating them, especially since my Mum made me wear the culottes and not the trousers. What kid wants to wear bile coloured culottes? Seriously? None of them do!

I've not worn culottes since my Brownies days (thank God), and I hadn't worn brown and yellow together, either, until this outfit happened in September... but I actually liked the result! I think the colours look okay together, and it was fun to try out a new colour combination. It seems a waste to leave this beautiful dress hanging in my wardrobe unworn until I buy some pieces that compliment it better. It deserves as much wear as possible; even if the most exciting place it gets worn is the garden and the only person I'm dressing up for is myself!

Outfit Details

Dress and Belt- Lindy Bop // Cardigan- New Look // 
Shoes- New Look // Bag- ASOS // Necklace- Giveaway Win

Would you wear brown and yellow together?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

50 Christmas Shopping Tips 2014

With just nine weeks to go 'til Christmas, most of us will have started our Christmas shopping by now, or at the very least, started thinking about it. If you haven't, it's never too early to start.

I know that Christmas shopping can be an incredibly stressful task, particularly when you're worrying about how to make the pennies stretch as far as possible, so I've put together 50 of my Christmas shopping tips to help make your shopping as stress free as possible this year.

In the list, you'll find dozens of money-saving tips, and a few words of advice for getting through your shopping in one piece. I hope they help!

1. Set a budget for each person on your gift list and and try to stick to it. 

2. Only spend what you can actually afford. Remember, Christmas is only one day, and your loved ones won't want you to get in to debt just so they can receive a gift from you. 

3. Spread the cost over the next nine weeks.

4. Starting next year, spread the cost of Christmas throughout the year. A gift here, a gift there, and you'll barely notice a dent in your bank balance by the time December comes around.

5. Alternatively, leave your Christmas shopping until a few days before Christmas, if you can, so you can take advantage of pre-Christmas sales. 

6. If you're not seeing some friends and relatives until after Christmas, don't buy their presents before Christmas; wait for the January sales.

7. Take advantage of sales throughout the year to snap up presents for less.

8. Shop around for the best price. Can you get that perfume, DVD box set, or tablet cheaper elsewhere? For example, when I shop for books, CDs, and DVDs online, I always compare prices between Amazon, Play, Tesco and ASDA, and then buy the cheapest.

9. Take advantage of 'buy 1 get 1 free', and '3 for 2' promotions, etc. You'll get an extra present for your money, and one less gift to worry about paying for.

10. Go shopping with a friend and split the buy one get one free promotions. It's a sensible way to save yourself 50% on a present or two.

11. Search online for discount codes before every online purchase. There is almost always one knocking about for every popular online store. Just enter "[insert brand / shop name here] discount codes", in to a search engine, and it will lead you to the appropriate websites. If you can't find a discount code, perhaps wait for a couple of days before you make your purchase, and search again.

12. Look out for discount codes in your favourite magazines. They even pop up in daily newspapers from time to time as the festive season nears.

13. Sign up to website newsletters; you will often get a discount code as an incentive to join them.

14. Follow your favourite brands on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with promotions, sales, and discount codes.

15. Keep an eye on social media and newsletter emails for flash sales.

16. Shop in outlet shops. Stock is usually heavily discounted, meaning you could potentially save yourself a small fortune, or even afford something high quality that was originally out of your budget. My favourite outlet villages are Bicester Village near Oxford, and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.

17. Take advantage of free delivery options and offers. You could save five or six quid or more each time, depending on the shop.

18. Place orders online with friends and split the delivery costs to save each of you a couple of pounds.

19. Shop with cash and not cards- it's easier to see how much you're spending, and you're more likely to stick to your budget.

20. Don't be tempted to stick everything on credit and store cards, especially if you won't be able to pay the bill off in full by the end of the month. If you only pay the minimum amount, you'll end up having to pay back far more than what your purchases originally cost you.

21. Use your Nectar Card points towards presents or your Christmas food shop n the supermarket.

22. Use your shop loyalty cards (which collect points with every purchase) to pay for presents. All those Boots Advantage Card points your make up addiction has earned you come in handy at this time of year!

23. Shop through a cash back website, to get cash back on your online purchases, (and find the latest discount codes). I swear by Quidco, and use it every time I shop online with popular high street stores. Cashback rates can vary from brand to brand; some offer 2% or 3% cashback, but some may be 10% or more. Just last week I got 8% cashback on this year's Body Shop advent calendar, saving myself £4 off a £50 spend! Not too shabby!

24. Grab a bargain on eBay or other similar auction-style sites. There are millions of brand-new items just waiting to be snapped up for bargain prices.

25. Amazon is also a fantastic website for finding brand new things for less than the RRP- and they sell almost anything you can think of.

26. Buy beauty products from discounted beauty-websites like Fragrance Direct. Direct Cosmetics, Cosmetics Fairy, and All Beauty.

27. Shop from websites that stock a range of brands, and buy everything in one place with one delivery cost.

28. Don't rule out shopping in charity shops. You never know what brand-new things you'll find, or what vintage treasures await. You might come across a first edition of your friend's favourite book, or a beautiful vintage dress your stylish bestie would go crazy for.

29. Remember to leave instructions on your online orders so delivery people will know where to leave your parcels if you're not home to accept them. You don't want to be running down to the sorting office to find your parcels when you've got a million other festive things to do.

30. If you're planning on making purchases close to Christmas, make sure you know the last guaranteed delivery dates (online and in store) to avoid disappointment on Christmas Day. It will vary from shop to shop.

31. Also find out the last postage dates if you need to send anything through the post office or by courier.

32. Make sure you find out what the return policy is for gifts you purchase, and always keep your receipts. Most stores can give you a gift receipt which doesn't show how much you paid, so you can pass it on to the recipient in case they need to return or exchange the gift.

33. Bring your own shopping bags with you. It may only save you a few pence on carrier bags, but it all adds up, right?

34. Popping in to the city centre for Christmas shopping? Take the park and ride to save money on expensive parking, petrol, and public transport fees. 

35. Bare in mind, things are often cheaper online than on the high street. If you're looking for the best price, use your phone to do a quick search online to compare prices when you're shopping in brick and mortar shops.

36. Books, DVDs and CDs are often cheapest in the supermarkets

37. Buy those perfect gifts as and when you see them, because they're not always there when you go back!

38. Only buy presents for the kids.

39. Only give presents to your immediate family and closest friends.

40. If there are a lot of people in your friendship group, family, or work place, suggest doing a Secret Santa. Everybody will buy and receive one gift, and everybody will save a small fortune!

41. Go shopping on weekdays; they will generally be quieter than weekends.

42. Do your Christmas shopping first thing in the morning. The shops will be quieter, the shelves will be fuller, and the staff will usually be a lot happier to help before they're stressed, tired, and over-worked. 

43. Be patient with shop staff. Yes, the queue may be a mile long, but the cashiers will be working as fast as they can to serve everybody. Remember they're only human, and they'll probably be exhausted from working so hard. Have you ever worked in retail during December? It's exhausting!

44. Don't wait until a minute before closing time to head to the tills, whether you have one item or a trolley load of purchases to pay for. Don't be that guy; don't be a jerk. The sales assistants won't get paid to stay late to ring up your purchases. They'll probably be exhausted after working a long shift and dying to get home to put their feet up. Put yourself in their shoes: would you be happy to stay an extra half an hour or more after closing time for free to serve lingering customers, after working a full 9 hours already? Didn't think so.

45. Let the person behind you in the queue jump ahead if they have less things to pay for.

46. Don't even think about queue jumping. See that long line of people at the tills? They're queueing for a reason; to be served when it's their turn. If they can queue patiently, I'm sure you'll get through it, too.

47. Don't wear thick, heavy clothes for Christmas shopping; you're likely to get hot and flustered in busy shops. Wear layers you can easily remove if you get too hot.

48. Wear comfortable shoes. You're likely to be doing A LOT of queueing.

49. Carry a bottle of water in your bag. Christmas shopping is thirsty work and you might be shopping and queueing for some time before you can stop to refuel.

50. If you're still struggling to make ends meet, why not sell your unwanted stuff on eBay, at a boot sale, on your blog, or through local or national classified pages / websites?

And those are 50 of my Christmas shopping tips! I hope a few of them help you as you do your Christmas shopping this year. Will you be using any of them?

Do you have any Christmas shopping tips I haven't included in this post and would like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wednesday Wish List

Hi lovelies!

It's time for this week's Wednesday Wish List...

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

These novelty bags from Aldo and Betsey Johnson all look amazing! I think the Kitchi cat clutches are my favourites.

1 // 2

Alice in Wonderland has been one of my most favourite Disney movies since I was little (along with Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, and Robin Hood), so naturally I love these two Alice in Wonderland tops from Pin Up Girl Clothing!

1 // 2

Speaking of Pin Up Girl Clothing, aren't these harlequin dresses gorgeous?! I'd sell my Granny to have that first dress in my wardrobe; the print is to die for! 

1 // 2

Lady Vintage have brought out another two designs with that amazing cupcake print! The Isabella dress with the sweetheart neckline is particularly lovely.

1 // 2 // 3

I really love these lace kimonos from Pink Clove, and the fit and flare coat from Littlewoods is stunning. It would go perfectly with my dress collection.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13

And, finally, I'm pretty much in love with everything from Dorothy Perkins at the moment. The colour palettes, the textures, the patterns, the styles... I love all of it. I've been shopping with Dorothy Perkins for a good fifteen years, and they always get Autumn / Winter fashion so right. I'll take one of each, please!

What's on your wish list this week?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday Favourites #104

Hello and happy Sunday! It's good day for some favourites, don't you think?

I am, and so are you!

This manicure is amazing.

I'm in love with these tattoos from Sasha Unisex. The hedgehog is so cute!

Can you believe these aquatic wildlife images are actually paintings, made from layers and layers of resin?! I kid you not. I can't believe how realistic they are! (Loads more at the source).

This make up and jewellery storage is to die for! Does anybody know who it belongs to?

15 clutch essentials.

These fox paintings by Marcela Cardenas are stunning.

These animal photographs are adorable.

I love this hair colour.

This is beautiful.

These photos of Finland from photographer Mikko Lagerstedt are absolutely incredible.

Louise's Lovely Links

♥ The Tattooed Tea Lady tells you to give yourself a break!

♥ Leah wrote a fantastic piece against the old accusation that plus size fashion bloggers are "promoting obesity", and why it couldn't be further from the truth.

♥ I love The Dainty Squid's drift wood beach fort! It would make the most amazing reading nook!

♥ The Black Pearl Blog's gallery wall is so pretty and interesting.

♥ Vivatramp wrote a brilliant post on how to be a good friend to somebody with an illness. If you know somebody who has a chronic illness, condition, or on-going injury, please give it a read!

♥ 25 beautiful doors that seem to lead to other worlds. One of them must lead to Narnia or the Secret Garden, surely?

♥ Need something light-hearted and adorable to make you smile? Check out these 30 dogs sleeping like awkward doofuses.

and finally,

♥ The heart warming story of a dancer who helped her Great Dane walk again, after he aided her own recovery when she also lost the use of her legs in a diving accident.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Body Shop Beauty Advent Calendar 2014 Sneak Peek

Earlier in the week, a large cardboard box arrived on my doorstep with my name on it, and oh was I excited to see it! Inside was the Body Shop advent calendar that I ordered for myself as an early Christmas present. Y'know, 'cause I'm good to myself like that. 

I know I blogged about The Body Shop's 24 Days of Joy advent calendar just last week (here), but I thought you guys might like a sneak peek at the real deal instead of relying solely on the stock photos. 

If you didn't see my last post and aren't familiar with the calendar, basically, 24 Days of Joy is a beauty Advent Calendar, which features a different The Body Shop product behind every window. It includes skincare, make up, and bath and body products, and features both old favourites and some of the newest additions to indulge in over Christmas. As a Body Shop fan it really appealed to me, and after missing out on last year's calendar, I actually squirrelled money away all year hoping for better luck this year! I'm so excited I got my hands on one!

It arrived in perfect condition last Monday, and I instantly fell in love with the traditional red, white, and silver packaging. The colours are gorgeous, and I adore that it's been designed to look like a house. The animals and festive characters at the windows add a lovely little touch.

I have to say, I was surprised by the sheer size of the calendar from the start. It's huge! I suppose it would be with all those lotions and potions inside. If you're wondering if you have space for one, it's about 34cm square, and 11.5cm wide (closed)! 

It opens on a hinge, like a book, and inside are twenty-four cardboard windows in traditional red and white, on a silver and white striped background. The numbers are big and easy to find, and the big windows suggest decent sized products inside.

It also has a handle on one end, to make picking up and carrying the calendar a lot easier. I've added my hand to the shot so you can get an idea of just how big the set is.

The back gives you a list of contents, tells you a little about their ingredients, and explains about the gift of education; for each calendar that is bought, a child in a war torn country will be able to attend a class! So not only will you or a loved one get to enjoy twenty-four lovely beauty gifts during Advent, but a child will benefit from it, too! Fantastic excuse to treat yourself, if ever I heard one!!

24 Days of Joy retails for £50, and it's currently still available on the Body Shop's website here. Last year's sold out super quick, so if you want one, snap one up fast!

I won't be revealing its contents today, as I'd like to enjoy the surprise every day during Advent, but here's the stock photo. 

If you'd like me to, I might reveal what's behind each window on Instagram every day from the 1st of December, and perhaps do a round-up post here on the blog every week, fortnight, or at the end of Advent. Thoughts? If you just can't wait that long, you can find the list of products included in the calendar here, and, of course, in the product listing. 

Will you be treating yourself to a Body Shop advent calendar this Christmas?

P.S. Apologies for the quality of the photos; it's not stopped raining all week and my camera is crap at the best of times!
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