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Skirt by River Island
Clutch by Reiss
Watch by Bell & Ross

Black Friday seems to have come around very fast this year, at least it seems that way to me. So I thought it only right to feature an all black outfit post because although we all wear black head-to-toe from time to time it's not something I do very often. I'm a big fan of colour as you know, but I can't deny the allure of this comforting, timeless colour especially in winter when it's important for clothes to feel substantial and warm. 

When I wear head-to-toe anything I like to play around with texture within the outfit and that's exactly what I've done here by pairing a leather look midi-skirt from River Island with an embellished luxe sweater by Jeff (a very cool Belgian label that specialises in knitwear, it's available at Feather & Stitch with 20% off while stock lasts). The sparkle on the (oh so soft) sweater plays down any potential grunge vibes in the skirt while the leather look prevents the sweater appearing too cute. The metallic bag mirrors the embellished details and ties the look together.

A quick note on the Billi Bi boots... these are my favourite buy of the season. Incredibly comfy, perfect heel height, fantastic soft leather, they look just like Acne Pistol boots but are a fraction of the cost. They're available in grey (here) too.

Hoorah & Happy Holidays x

Black Out

Sweater by Jeff at Feather & Stitch (currently 20% off) Skirt by River Island Ankle boots by Billi Bi at Feather &...
Saturday, 29 November 2014

It's not really very British to reveal to people how thankful you are for everything you have. It could be perceived as boasting or showing off and both are behaviours generally frowned upon in society. We're just a little too self-deprecating as a nation to embrace this heartfelt American holiday of thanks and cheer. Now this isn't to say that I believe we're not extremely thankful for all that we have on this side of the pond. On the contrary, it's just that I've observed we're much better at finding and elucidating on the silver linings in our lives rather than displaying a genuine gratitude towards personal good fortune. However, I loved Thanksgiving in my short time on American soil so I'm going to buck the British trend in writing. Please don't ask me to say any of this out loud though as I will be forced to laugh uncomfortably and then shuffle away muttering.

10 Reasons to be Thankful

1) My family & friends - they're bonkers and I love them.
2) Good health - a cancer scare earlier in the year turned out to be nothing to worry about. Phew.
3) Low interest rates.

So far so normal...

4) Better boobs - I gained weight and my boobs became larger and firmer. Result!
5) Sharing - once upon a time someone invented gin, someone else decided to put sugar and sloes into the gin. Then they shared the idea.
6) Bella & Bear sometimes sleep past 8am at the weekend. Shhhhhh.
7) I didn't buy the puppy.
8) Cool bedsheets, hot water bottles and frosty mornings.

Bit weird but hey...

8) The zombie apocalypse hasn't happened.
9) No one farts in my bed (except me), it's a perk of being single.
10) Pomegranates.

Most of all I'm thankful that I'm content with my life just as it is. It may be a small thing but it's been a long time coming. Woah. That last one came out of nowhere!

10 Reasons to be Thankful

Friday, 28 November 2014
We hear so much about layering at this time of year and for some reason there's an air of mystery that surrounds the layering of clothes, or at least how to do it well. So, I thought I would dispel the mystery and impart a few very simple tips that will have you marching down the street like the fashion maven you are, rather than a Michelin man style silhouette that can result from a lumpy jumper and large coat combo (although funnily enough I happen to love that particular combination, especially around horses).

Opt for thin, fitted under garments
Your mum made you wear a vest, right? You make your kids wear a vest, right? So what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Follow your own (and your mother's) excellent advice. Choose a beautiful camisole or other fitted top that sits snugly against your figure. This will not add weight to your outfit, in fact if you choose the uber-fitted spandex variety you will define your shape.

Add a basic, lightweight top 
Something plain, neutral or striped works best; stripes are particularly effective if you plan to roll up the sleeves on the next layer and have the striped cuff peeking out.

Cover up with a shirt or lightweight cardi
If you've gone patterned on the previous layer go plain on this layer (and vice versa) unless combining plaid and stripes which frankly look awesome together. A half turned up collar will add style points and nonchalance. Don't tuck this layer into your bottom layer, it adds movement and form to the look when left free.

A note on sweaters
If it's seriously butt clenching cold outside add a plain, neutral, or navy (which is the new neutral) sweater over the top of all the other layers. You will now BOIL on the tube or in any building you enter. Remove as required.

Add a coat
Coats finish an outfit, after November it's thoughtless to leave the house without one and people will suspect you've been at the gin if you can't feel the cold, so there you are. By the way if you haven't read it yet, check out 'Hurrah for Gin', it's rather darn funny.

Winter accessories are wonderful, scarfs, hats and gloves are like ribbons, bows and tags on Christmas presents, they adorn and improve the existing look. This season the modern way to wear a scarf is to belt it at the waist, this works brilliantly with the oversized blanket scarfs that are popping up everywhere as it has the effect of turning them into makeshift ponchos. Keep jewelry to a minimum to avoid looking overdone.

Mix it up
Play around with different lengths within the layers and choose contrasting fabrics to add interest and texture. There are no colour rules, but you might want to avoid the mix of a green and red top with brown bottoms unless you are in actual fact an elf.

Really the best way to get an idea of what works for you is to play dress-up with the clothes you have. If you get stuck it will be because you're missing a key item in your wardrobe in which case Christmas is coming so you could put it on your wish list. Happy days.

I do a little de-layered strip-tease below.

Coat by Reiss
Scarf by Gap (instore only, find similar here)
Dress by Cos (sold out)
Boots by Billi Bi at Feather & Stitch (20% off until Friday)
Belt from a selection at Feather & Stitch
Bag by Mulberry
Watch by Bell & Ross
Sunglasses by RayBan
Jewelry (vintage)

Yeah, that's it. I'm not taking anything else off.

Layering in Winter

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I love breakfast, in fact if I could have one meal over and over again in a day it would be breakfast. From a simple slice of warm buttered toast, to pancakes with maple syrup and bacon or eggs benedict there's so much to love about the day's first feast. Earlier in the year my daughter called me out on not eating breakfast on school days (I wrote about it here) and ever since I have made a concerted effort to get involved with week day breakfasts. Some days I still skip it opting instead to spend those precious extra minutes washing my hair, but I've noticed recently I've been waking-up hungry and getting up slightly earlier so that I have time to do both. I like this. Feeling full AND having good hair is a great way to start the day.

An interesting new addition has found it's way into my breakfast pantry too, chia seeds. They're the little black seeds you can see on top of the granola and under the goji berries. They are an amazing super food packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fibre and even calcium. I've used them in their raw form here but if you soak them overnight in coconut milk they double up in size and become wonderfully creamy. You can add them to salads, smoothies, homemade granola, a bread mix anything you can think of really. They release energy slowly so eating them can help to normalise fluctuating blood sugar levels and stop that pesky mid-morning snack attack. I find I'm calmer and more productive after I've eaten a proper balanced breakfast, which is a 100% win.

In this breakfast bowl there's a:
Good dollop of full fat greek yoghurt
Layer of Lizi's organic granola mix
Heavy handful of black chia seed
Sprinkling of goji berries
Teaspoon of dark honey (to taste)

Healthy Chia & Goji Breakfast Bowl

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Sweater by Des Petits Hauts at Feather & Stitch (also available in cream)
Skirt by Reiss (also love it in winter white)
Boots by Kurt Geiger
Watch by Michael Kors at ASOS
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

This is a signature look for me. It's casual, cosy, elegant and most importantly functional. I can run in the flat over-the-knee boots and the pleated skirt, which is important when accompanying a four year old with a scooter on the school run. Seriously those trucks need to slow down. Navy is a great colour for winter, it's less severe than black and tones beautifully with the deep jewel-like hues that are always so popular in this season. 

What I love about this look in particular is the juxtaposition of materials; floaty pleats, a heavy knit and almost utilitarian boots, it's ethereal yet rugged and it's because of this mix of opposites that you don't need a lot of colour to make it work. Also if you peek more closely you'll see that the pleats on the skirt split two-thirds of the way down and the pullover's design mirrors the effect. They remind me of arrows. Which in turn reminds me I've got a hankering to take up archery.

Pleats & Pullovers

Monday, 17 November 2014
It's a simple suggestion to follow your dreams, to take an idea or a concept that you love and let it lead you to where you're supposed to be; but at what point does a suggestion become a profound inspirational notion and how many of us have the courage to turn our dreams into a reality? 

It's said that dreamers just need someone to believe in them and while that may be true I prefer to think it's through a strong sense of self-belief and self-worth that we accomplish our goals. For what are our dreams if not wonderings of our own unrealised potential? For me it's the act of writing that starts the process. I take a thought and make it real on a page, I may not share it at first hoping to add substance and form before I let it loose into the world but in that moment, that small beginning, something new is created and my idea becomes tangible.

When I was younger I would scribble such thoughts on random bits of paper. The inevitable result was a disorganised assortment of ramblings strewn across binders and often lost in drawers. They were impossible to work with and therein lies the point, dreams will only be dreams until you work at them. Great achievements rarely happen by accident, they are more usually the result of hard-won frustrations fought over time and witnessed by the people that believe in you. It's for this reason that we should invest in the friendships that hold us up and invest in where we put our dreams. 

So dream big, fail often but be gracious in defeat, love your friends, believe in yourself and then continue to work your ass off to get where you want to be.

This beautiful leather notepad has been gifted to me by Smythson. It's from their Panama collection and it smells of adventure. 

Follow Your Dreams

Sunday, 16 November 2014
"I'm half Yorkshire." That's what I used to say when I was a kid. Like Yorkshire is a whole other country, which is really how it felt when we passed from the red rose of Lancashire to the white rose of Yorkshire on the long journey north to see my Grandparents in Denton, near Ilkley. This feeling of belonging to another clan was never more heartfelt than during Sunday lunches when Yorkshire puddings drowning in onion gravy were served by themselves at the start of the weekly feast. There was always a squabble over who would get the last one, which invariably ended with the last poor pudding being quartered before being greedily gobbled down in one bite. Once consumed the main course would be served on the same plate, "keep your cutlery" was the best advice we could give to uninitiated guests. 

You may remember that my year's New Year resolution for 2014 has been to cook a roast every Sunday for my family and I'm delighted I've stuck to it.  It's been a pleasure to introduce Bella & Bear to their culinary heritage and they're just as much in thrall to Yorkshire puddings as I was at their age. 

So I thought with Thanksgiving a few weeks away and only six Sunday's until Christmas I would share a few of the recipes that have made 2014 special for us and I'm starting with a true heritage recipe for real Yorkshire Puddings passed down for generations by my mum's family. I hope you'll love them as much as we do.

You will need:
125g//4oz of plain flour
A pinch of salt
1 large egg
300ml//10fl oz of milk
15ml//1tbsp vegetable oil

(Serves 4)

Set the oven to 220ºC//425ºF or gas mark 7 and pre-heat your pudding tin or bake dish. For individual Yorkshire puddings add a splash of oil to each hole. I love to use beef dripping (when cooking roast beef) or goose fat (when cooking a roast chicken) instead of vegetable oil, it really adds to the flavour of the puddings.

Sift the flour and salt together giving it a good airing (i.e. hold the sieve high(ish) above the bowl to encourage air into the mix). Make a well in the centre of the sifted flour and break the egg into the well. On a low setting use an automatic hand whisk to whisk the egg and flour together while very slowly adding the milk. If you throw it all in together the mixture will be lumpy and yuk. You're aiming to achieve a smooth batter with lots of lovely bubbles. Once the batter is smooth you can increase the speed of the whisk to get even more air into the mix, whisk for at least five minutes, up to ten minutes is plenty.

Many people advocate covering the batter and leaving it to settle for an hour. I haven't found this to be necessary to achieve really excellent Yorkshire puds but by all means follow tradition if you're so inclined.

When the oil in the tin is smokin' hot (like yo' mama!) add approximately 1tbsp of batter to each pudding hole and swiftly return to the oven to bake until risen and golden brown. Do not be tempted to open the oven to check on them until they've been baking for at least 30 minutes. Bake them for up to an hour if necessary.

Serve immediately with oodles of onion gravy or freeze for up to three months.

Sunday lunch series: Best Homemade Yorkshire Puddings

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Skirt by J.Crew (old)
Sweater by Cos (instore only)
Coat by Reiss
Scarf by Gap (similar)
Boots by Kurt Geiger
Sunglasses by RayBan
Lipstick by L'Oreal (Liya red)

When you're wearing an outfit that has a lot of tonal colours you can use accessories to add a pop of a contrasting colour to inject much needed excitement and pull the whole look together. Don't overdo it though or the effect will be more of a pepper spray than a splash. Using a colour wheel is a great way to identify which colours compliment, contrast or tone together. 

It also helps to know on which side of the colour wheel your skin undertone sits; in a nutshell if the veins on the back of your wrist appear blue or purple you have a cool undertone where as if they appear more green or yellow you have a warm undertone. Once mastered, this simple tool makes pulling an outfit together a doddle.

Colour Wheel

Saturday, 8 November 2014
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