Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Mulberry Bryn and glitter Aldo ballerinas

Wow, what a week so far! It was my birthday yesterday and I’ve barely had time to stop and think all week – the next time I’ll be free to take a breath is probably Monday – but I’m certainly not complaining! However, it does leave little time for blogging. That said, I definitely had to make time for my bag ‘n’ shoes of the week, so I could show off my beautiful birthday present from my husband (which I bought myself in the summer sale, cough, ahem) – a new shiny oak Mulberry Bryn! I’ll definitely be featuring this baby more in an upcoming post – but for now, here she is!

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Because it was a special occasion, I had to break out the glitter shoes I bought last year for the Christmas period – they’re super comfy Aldo ballerina flats, and they’re a mix of silver with some light flecks of gold. And, you can just about see the lovely pearl bracelet my husband bought me as a wedding gift too. This was definitely a combo that brought back happy memories!

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Visit Downton Abbey at Christmas!

I had a blast visiting Highclere Castle in the summer – and now the home of Downton Abbey has opened ticket sales for a very limited number of dates in December! Or rather, they will do today – I (hopefully) bagged mine when the system was working earlier this morning, but due to overwhelming demand the sales are on temporary hold until later today. Get your finger ready for a refresh session!

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Head on over to the website here to bag yourself tickets for the Christmas fair on Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th December. They cost £20 each and will give you a chance to do a little Christmas shopping while you’re serenaded by carol singers! And, you can upgrade your ticket to visit the bedrooms for an extra £2 or the Egyptian exhibition for £5 on the day.

Or, you can visit the house itself during the weekend in December – again, limited dates – and tickets will be available here for £18.

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Visit the website at https://highclerecastleshop.co.uk/home.

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Living in the ’80s!

If there’s one thing I’m famous for amongst my friends, it’s wanting to dress up at the drop of a hat, and planning elaborate parties in order to justify some ridiculous outfit I’ve dreamed up. So I thought I’d share these photos from our ’80s party last year, which we organised as part of the joint 30th birthday celebration between me and my friends, who were all born within a couple of months of each other. What better way to celebrate a landmark birthday than with a throwback party to the decade when you were born?!

Of course, Ray-bans were the big thing during the ’80s (have they ever really gone out of fashion since?!), so the first job was grabbing a pair of replicas from eBay.

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Next, comes the big hair…

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Polka dots and bright accessories:

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I was channeling a pre-blonde Madonna here, of course…

I actually had two outfits for the weekend, but first was the small matter of hair and makeup:

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I thought I’d go subtle for the first day, so as not to scare people too badly…

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This is an authentic ’80s jumpsuit, complete with amazing power shoulder pads. The honest truth is I loved wearing this – it was comfy as heck and I thought it looked fantastic. Sadly, I don’t think the world is ready for a real ’80s revival just yet… I also bought these great electric blue snakeskin heels from New Look to complete the outfit. Unfortunately, at times, there was something slightly Michael Jackson-ish about my appearance:

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Day two was when I unleashed the full force of Madonna:

IMG_2377The Material Girl was in full swing!

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My husband wore a tracksuit – he loves it so much he’s worn it multiple times since then, because as all children of the ’80s, he feels the lure of the tracksuit like a Siren’s call.

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I had on a tutu, but you can only really see it in this incredibly unflattering side view of me singing along to Blondie:

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But wait! What about the catering? Well, of course, that was a major aspect of the fun! Where would an ’80s party be without a trifle?

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And a pineapple and cheese hedgehog?

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And a really awful photo of a Viennetta?!

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(When I was a kid, you knew it was a serious and important landmark event if there was Viennetta on the table!)

There also had to be quiche and vol au vents:

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And pink wafers, savoury mini eggs, and party rings!

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And, because why not, jello shots in the shape of lemon wedges!

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Sunday morning could only be cartoons and Pop Tarts time!

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It was great fun to relive our childhood days from a slightly different perspective, but I have to say my Pop Tart sugar rush was pretty intense…! I still can’t decide which ’80s outfit I liked the best, but it was definitely fun to research them and put them together. The first time round for me, the ’80s were all knee high socks, flowery skirts, and matching cardigans!

Carols in Cov

I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas Day! I’ve been with my husband’s family near Coventry, and we’ve been doing all kinds of great Christmas activities. We have a Boxing Day panto to go to today, and we went to sing carols in Coventry Cathedral on Christmas Eve!

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It was great to belt out some classics in good company! My mother in law is a great singer in the choir (very often featured on Songs of Praise!) so we got the best seats in the house, right at the front near the singers and orchestra. The empty seats are where they were sitting, but they nipped off to sing the final song from the edges of the seating area at the end.

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I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the rebuilt cathedral, but it is very dramatic inside…

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And, at the end, we were all given candles to hold – I honestly can’t remember what the significance of that was, but it was festive all the same! Plus, we got to blow them out in unison after a countdown, which was weirdly fun. And a bit smelly – but I love the smell of candle smoke, so I thought it was great!

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Merry Christmas everyone! Let me know seasonal activities you’ve been taking part in during the holidays!

18 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Candyshop

Dec 18 Mini Mani Month Candyshop
18 Dec Ciate Mini Mani Month Candyshop
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Yay, another bottle of Caviar Pearls! This mix is called Candyshop – fairly appropriate, I think!

Mini Mani Month Ciate Pearls bottle

This is an amazing mix of sweet colours – hot pink, light navy blue, and orange!

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So Christmassy – it ties really well into the Russian Christmas theme I’ve seen in some of the shops this season, based on the  amazing colours of the famous Onion Domes seen on Eastern European churches.

I had no end of trouble trying to capture the beauty of these colours in the dull overcast light of a miserable Tuesday…

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This one is probably the best reflection of these vibrant colours – lit by the fairy lights of my Christmas tree, appropriately enough!

In search of: the perfect gold nail varnish

You know, sometimes you get an idea in your head, and you just can’t shake it out. I was like that with gold nail varnish for the past year and a half. I got it in my head that what I really NEEDED for the holidays was gold nail varnish. Proper bright, sparkly, beautiful, rich gold nail varnish, varnish that would say “HELLO CHRISTMAS! Yes, indeed, I am ready to party!”

People, I am pleased to say, my search is over.

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Please excuse the hasty rush job on these nails, I got over-excited when they were drying… Sigh. Anyway, I hope you can see that gorgeous shade on the bottom thumb there – that is the gold of my dreams! What is this exotic metallic varnish called, I hear you cry?! Why, it’s OPI’s Goldeneye! The MUST-HAVE gold varnish for 2012, I reckon!

In a clockwise fashion from the bottom, these are the ‘gold’ varnishes I am wearing: Goldeneye (OPI, the clear winner), Gold Coin (Revlon, just not at all what I hoped for, it’s basically just silver!) Glimmer (TopShop, my second favourite, but more of a bronze), Gold (GOSH, another tame looking gold), then Star Dust (Rimmel, another bronzy one).

Here, though, is the clear winner. Isn’t it beautiful? You can purchase this shade from HQHair for £11.

Halloween: 17 days to go…

I’m getting so excited about Halloween! Is anyone else planning a party to celebrate the spookiest night of the year? I’d love to hear your plans – what are you going to cook? What are you going to wear?! Leave a comment and let me know… I’m dying of curiosity!

You might notice that, in the spirit of the event, I’ve added a handy new link to your left, which when clicked, will lead you to all my posts with the category ‘Halloween’, so if you want to find the Halloween marshmallow recipe, my pumpkin fondant tutorial or anything else to do with Halloween, you know where to find it! Throughout the year I’ll be changing this to reflect the seasons, the holidays, and my latest obsessions!

Purple buttercream and stars

This year, my menu is nowhere near organised… but I do know what my costume will be. Thanks to a quick shop in Primark, I will be an ’80s zombie, complete with acid yellow dress, purple tights, orange legwarmers and a heck of a lot of purple accessories. I am perfecting my moaning noises every morning whilst getting up, I assure you! And I have a magic lipstick that looks green but turns pink when you put it on. Now, how scary is that?

Pst – I’m totally honoured to have been featured in Indie Fixx’sHalloween Tutes from Around The Interwebs‘ – in the same list as Martha Stewart, no less! Watch out, Mazza…