Sunday, 27 November 2011

Dear Santa...

Usually my mum asks me to write my Christmas list when we are still basking in the heat of the summer to avoid seeing my awkward face when I unwrap some major fashion faux-pas on the big day. So this year was no different and as usual I could write a list as long as Santa’s beard. So here is my wishful-thinking list and if Father Christmas is a bit late coming down your chimney this year, it’s because his bag is overflowing with gifts for me! 

1. h&m £24.99
2. h&m £5.99
3. Aldo £20
4. Zara £59.99
5. hmv £9.97
6. River Island £30
7. h&m £12.99
8. h&m £9.99
9. Miss Selfridge £35
10. Aldo £23.98
11. Topshop £40
12. Michael Kors £110
13. Barry M set ASOS £10
14. ASOS £12
15. hmv £7.99
16. Miss Selfridge £85
17. £32

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ho ho hot Christmas party trends

If you, like me, have ducked out of every shop when you’ve heard an inkling of Wham’s Last Christmas, or been a complete scrooge at the mention of any festive cheer, then there really is no hiding away from it any longer; Christmas is coming. I was ready to admit defeat when I caught a glimpse of the John Lewis advert and scoffed my first mince pie, and now the chunky knitwear and fur coats are in full swing, I’m ready to embrace the new Christmas party-wear fashion trends.

Throughout the year, we’ve seen the return of animal print slipping back into the style stakes. So this Christmas, a jumper emblazoned with a quirky picture of Rudolph or a festive tree, is perfectly acceptable and you’ll see the shops awash with cute Christmas designs.

Last year it was reported that British women spent a total of £3.5 billion in December on clothes, shoes and accessories to make certain they were party-perfect. That's the equivalent of £206 for the average woman to update her festive wardrobe. This year with purse strings tight since the economy took a nose dive, everyone will be on the hunt for a bargain. With high street stores, big department chains and even supermarkets all revealing their Christmas party selection even earlier this year, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you decide to hit the shops. Fashion staple Coast, has released a range of limited edition part dresses that consists of Grecian style gowns and short statement LBDs. Family favourite Asda has claimed to have found the perfect solution to saggy bums and stuffed tums, by bringing out a £20 range of cocktail dresses to suit any body shape.  According to research by the supermarket chain, 85 per cent of women worry most about the size and shape of their backsides than any other part of your body. The store has worked with bottom expert Dr David Holmes and claim that the traditional 'peach' is no longer; us girls have a tomato, potato, pear or nectarine. So they've come up with affordable dresses for each of them, solving wardrobe dilemmas in one easy purchase.

If you want to splash out a little bit extra and be the belle of the ball for the annual office Christmas party, it’s all about sequins, beads and feathers this year. Shades of bronze, silver and gold dominate what will only trickle down to the high streets in time for you to make your choice on the crucial outfit to unveil to your workmates.
Earlier this month, X Factor’s feisty new glamour girl Tulisa, hit the red carpet adorned in a black leather dress with a feathered end and was praised by all the fashion bibles for being bang on trend. The newest look is the dropped waist 20s style dresses which have feathers or fabric appliqués around the hem to create movement and make your dancing look even more energetic.

River Island has hit the party trend right on the head by launching a range that is affordable, stylish and really diverse. The focus sways towards bright hues and vibrant splashes of colour, but there is something for everyone with dresses, jumpsuits, tops and skirts. Playing it safe with a little black dress shouldn’t be frowned upon, as this year sees the return of bold, strong shoulders and a flash of sequins to ooze that wow factor. After all the LBD is a tried and tested favourite.

Bring a little tinsel to your wardrobe by contrasting one high-shimmer piece, perhaps a sequinned skirt, or blazer, with a casual t-shirts. High street store Oasis do a fab range of sparkly numbers to add a twinkle to any deserted dancefloor. Why not up the fashion ante with some edgy accessories? Like sky-high shoe-boots or a retro evening bag, like a velvet clutch. Crown the look with a statement necklace in a coordinating metallic hue.

If you’re not partial to a figure-hugging dress, then don’t be afraid of the challenge to find two separates. Why not opt for a pleated skirt in a bold hue or pattern and team with a classic, tailored shirt? For an added bit of sparkle, go for a shirt with a sheen or shimmer to really get into the party spirit. Head down to Next to check out its range of fitted, below-the-knee skirts.  
Have fun shopping for your outfit for the festive season this year. After all, when you and your colleagues have actually patched together what happened at the office Christmas party, it’ll be time to start planning all over again.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Summer Winter Chicken

I have to dedicate another blog post to my new favourite dish of the week... Summer Winter Chicken. I was introduced to the recipe by Suzi Knight and decided to give it ago last week. Well to my surprise it was a dreamy dish. I added a couple of extras and teamed it with rice, but I even made enough to take it to work the next day. So thanks Suze for the meal tip!

More Birthday celebrations

So I’m a big fan of milking my birthday and this year I managed to drag out the festivities for a whole two weeks. So after celebrating with Tom, my mum and dad and my work pals, it was time to see my best friends.
Once again I made my way down to Brighton to spend my weekend with the gals. Friday night I arrived about 7.45pm and was treated to Donna Dartnell’s homemade mushroom risotto which went down a treat. Then we snuggled down in front of the box for an evening of trash TV before heading to bed about 11pm, how hardcore.

Saturday, we went to visit baby Harry who is gorgeous and very lively – his mummy Kirstie is doing fab too. After stopping off at Sainsbury’s to bag some food options for our continental breakfast, I sat back and watched while the Dartnell family got ready for a wedding. Holly in her undies being smothered in fake tan in the garden, and Brent spilling coke all down his favourite white skirt, I witnessed it all.

After waving them off, and Emily set for the occasion with a mini bottle of vino smuggled in her bag for the day, I made my way to Harriets salon for my treatment. Not one to be shy, I’ve always been open about the fact that I get my tash waxed – after all, I don’t want to end up with a bigger beard than my boyfriend. So once the hairs had been ripped out, we decided on an impromptu night out on the tiles. We had a mad dash into town before the shops shut at 6pm to bag a last minute outfit, and then picked up some wine to start the evening off properly. Once back at Harriets, I gave into her nagging and let her loose on my face to do my make-up. I’ve never been one to slap on the war-paint, so as Harriet smoothed on each layer I felt myself cringing under her beady eye. But she assured me that it would be tasteful and true to her word, she didn’t make me look like a hooker or a drag queen. 

 The night that followed involved a lot of dancing, drinking, singing and I hate to say it, but a bit of spewing as well. It was the taxi ride back that tipped me over the edge, as Harriet tried and failed to get the taxi man involved in a bit of banter and singing a line from a Chris Brown song. He clearly wasn’t a fan.

 Sunday at 2.30pm, us girls were reunited for an afternoon of posh tea and scones at The Grand Hotel in Brighton. To say we weren’t too used to such elegant surroundings was an understatement, sitting around a table eating finger food to the dulcet tones of a piano, is a world away from dancing round the pole at Yates on a Friday night. But as always, I had a brilliant time; there really isn’t anything better than laughing and reminiscing with your best friends! 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Long Distance Love

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Whoever penned the phrase 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' clearly had never had the delight of being in a long term relationship themselves. The heart feels a lot of things being separated from its soulmate, but fondness is not top of the list. Being away from your boyfriend sucks. End of.

First let me set the scene, before I delve into the logistics of it all. I'm 24 and work in Colchester, Essex which is approximately 154.5 miles away from my 25 year old boyfriend, who lives in sunny Southampton. 

Like most good relationships, a drunken snog and half-hearted grope in a sweaty club was where our romance first blossomed. A week later and he had wormed his way into my life and I’d subjected him to his first viewing of The Notebook.

Now almost two years later, we daily face the trials and tribulations of maintaining a long distance relationship. With half our time spent organising where to see each other next, the rest spent relying on digital media to keep the spark alive; it’s not all dirty weekends away and long romantic phone calls.

We’ve both got used to our routine now, and of course I miss him, everyday in fact, but nothing beats the dizzy butterflies and heart-felt excitement that builds up in the hours before we are reunited.

When an argument brews, and inevitably it does, it takes a lot more patience and understanding to smooth things over; a cheeky cuddle to stop him banging on isn’t an option. Unfortunately my monthly treat doesn’t take pity on my situation, especially when I turn into a psycho girlfriend and start accusing him of every cardinal sin under the sun.
We get to have a good half hour convo every night (I insist, I’m sure he would happily leave it longer) but it does give us the chance to really listen to each other. For that time we enjoy the conversation and each other’s company without any distractions. Live-in couples often complain that they never get the time to really talk, and when blokes hit the sofa at the end of a long day, all women want to do is have a deep meaningful chinwag.

I’ve learnt a lot of things along the way – men are like children, they get stressed if they’re tired or hungry, and need a whole heap of attention when they’ve done something good. And we get painted as the ones with all the emotional baggage.

But since having long spells apart we’ve found other ways to spend time together – while other couples might be picking out curtains, or decorating the nursery, we like to embrace our inner geek and play online scrabble together.

I get the best of both worlds; I’m an independent businesswomen in the week, and a doting, sensitive girlfriend at the weekend and until I’m ready to settle down and get knocked up, I’m very happy with it.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

So with Halloween done and dusted for another year and the X Factor live finals going strong with my new-found love for Gary Barlow growing each week, the start of November means one very important event, my birthday. Now I’m 24 and apparently one year away from a quarter life crisis. With quite a few life experiences under my belt already, hopefully as I’m getting older I’m getting wiser as well. Although I still have no clue about politics (right and left wing refer to an aeroplane as far as I’m concerned) and my awareness of geography is still shocking; I only just about know where France is.

Working on my birthday wasn’t exactly what I had planned but surprisingly it turned out to be a brilliant day. My desk was littered with presents from my workmates and we snacked all day on cakes and party food. Lunchtime we celebrated in style at the infamous riverside cafe, which is the only place to escape the stench of sewage that oozes from the water. The food is just delightful with rock-hard jacket potatoes and plastic chicken panini’s; it really was a treat. After work we went to Aceville’s favourite haunt, the Slug and Lettuce, had a burger and a few beverages and experienced my first night sober in the pub. 

Friday my alarm was set for 5am as the Craft Business team were off to the NEC in Birmingham for Cake International and Hobbycrafts, two thrilling craft shows. After a 3hour car ride up there, made slightly easier by an all expenses paid Little Chef brekkie, we were surrounded my old ladies eager to get their crafty mits on the latest knitting accessories, card-making tools and rubber stamps. If you are picturing lots of sweet cuddly ageing women, you couldn’t be more wrong – I was elbowed, barged into and pushed around like I was at a heavy mental gig as these grannies hustled for a bargain. The cakes were pretty impressive though, not that I got to sample any which was a shame!

 In the evening, I was reunited with Tom and he treated me to a romantic dinner where I decided to push the boat out and order monkfish, which at £18.95 I certainly made the most of not paying! Saturday, the festivities were in full swing and the eating theme continued as we met my parents for a birthday lunch. Gifts were exchanged and my bank balance given a boost, and we had a lovely time laughing and chatting. 

 Firework night proceeded, so Tom and I went to Wicksteed park, and for a bargain £3, got a good show of bangs, whizzes and sparklers set to a few tunes. Even though we were surrounded by chavvy families and young kids who made the most of being away from their parents by smoking and drinking a couple of Breezers, it was a lovely eve.

Sunday it was Tom’s great grandads 90th birthday so we ventured to his retirement village, which resembles something from the Truman show, for some more celebrations. He has made it to 90 and was a war hero, so I can’t hold too much of a grudge that he stole a bit of my birthday thunder. After stuffing my face with sausage rolls and cucumber sandwiches it was time to say goodbye to my lover boy for another 2 week stint apart.

All in all another great round of birthday celebrations!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Spooky, Spooky!

Halloween not only is a great reason to go out and get smashed, but it’s the only occasion when it’s acceptable to dress up like a lunatic. But with the joys of drinking into oblivion and dancing recklessly, the prospect of coming up with an original costume idea is one that fills me with dread every time. I wish I was a closet crafter and really creative when it comes to making outfits with colourful material, but I am really not. So when my friends Kayleigh and David invited me and Tom to their party for the weekend, I started racking my brain for the ultimate outfit. Eventually I came up with the idea of Little Dead Riding Hood with Tom dressing as a big bad wolf, so after battling the crowds in the one fancy dress shop in Southampton I came out £30 lighter with the chosen costume. Like a little boy in a sweet shop, as soon as Tom set his eyes on a Wolverine outfit he was sold, so the wolf idea went out the window.

All in all the costumes went down a treat and we had a great night, reliving the uni days partying the night away in Vodka Revs. 

The day after, I hopped on a train down to Brighton to finally meet baby Freddie who had been born the day before. The first little one for our group of girls, he is a beautiful porker and I can’t wait to watch him grow up, tell him my jokes and teach him about God, given my bible bashing past! Having a cuddle with Freddie, did make me wonder when I’d like a little Dickson running around, but after Tom told me he might want to do a PhD, I think I’ll be waiting about 20 years before settling down. So congrats Becky and James!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Home sweet home...

So a couple of weekends ago, I hopped in my car and drove the 118 miles down to my birth town and favourite place in the world, BRIGHTON. After living there for 20 years, just a stone’s throw away from the pebbly beach and a drunken taxi ride away from clubbers paradise West Street, to say I miss it is an understatement.

Braving the M25 on the Friday night, my stresses were eased when I realised an Uncle Sams would be there to greet me when I got to Emilys. The night that proceeded involved a batch of reality TV, discussing the latest goings on, and Brenty desperately showing us strange videos on YouTube.

After attempting a lay-in on Saturday, I was rudely awoken by my rumbling stomach begging for a poached egg and we were up and about by 9am. Then a routine trip to Asda resulted in a bagging couple of bargains, and we popped to Suzi’s for lunch where we treated to a delicious spread of hotdogs and chunky sarnies.

Dinner in the evening was a fancy affair; with a couple of us girls opting to dine in the company of some of our boy mates at a new haunt called Como. The wine was in abundance and before I knew it, I was slurring my words, and stumbling down the street and throwing some horrendous moves on the dance floor. I'm a classy bird!

After a sparodic nights sleep that fortunately didn't involve hanging my head down the toilet, we opted for a BK breakfast (although not sure a whooper with cheese meal at 10am counts as brekkie). After a quick catch-up on Jersey Shore and stalking Becky for the afternoon, Donna Dartnells famous lamb Sunday roast was piping hot and dripping with mint sauce waiting to satisfy my hungry tummy. You could say the healthy eating went out the window for the weekend.

To round off a spectacular weekend with my best friends, we went for a wander down the seafront and ate doughnuts, slagged off the tourists and tried not to get pooped on by the huge flock of seagulls that we attracted.