Belfast-based, style loving mum of 3. Fashion, Lifestyle, Food & Fitness

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Let the holidays begin.....

....sadly not the sun/sea/sand type - just the 9 week school summer holidays. It was an emotional few days as my eldest finished primary school so there were lots of goodbyes and hugs at the school gate yesterday (after the leavers' ceremony) and today when the gates closed for the holidays.
This week has been emotional on another level too as it is exactly one year since our holiday in England ended with me coming home in a wheelchair. I spent about 6 weeks off my feet on multiple pain meds so I feel thankful that this year, I'm stronger and can actually enjoy the time-off with the kids. My back will never be 100% (and in fact today, it's been quite sore) but I've learned so much in the past year about caring for it. It will always be my weak spot but with plenty of TLC/pilates/gym, it will hopefully never deteriorate like it did back then.

So, what have we been up to over the past few days?
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Friday, 26 June 2015

Outfit Catch Up....

We're on the home straight for summer holidays now so this week was super busy as I try to get things done that I won't have time for over the next 9 weeks. I've already blogged about my Geborgenheit massage - what a treat that was pre-holidays - and I'll tell you more about my hair cut & colour I had done today on a separate blog post but here's a sneak preview:
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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Heavenly Geborgenheit Massage

It's just over 24 hours since I had my first ever Geborgenheit Herbal Stamp Massage and it was one of the most relaxing and calming body treatments I've ever had. So much so, I had to blog about it straightaway for any stressed local ladies out there.

I have never felt comfortable having full body treatments so any time I do treat myself, I stick to a back massage or a session of reflexology. I have also found that anything that involves your full body is generally expensive and time consuming.

Well, I've found my dream full-body treatment and I'm determined to set aside some cash every week for the next few weeks to allow me to have another one during the summer. Let me tell you more.
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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Wardrobe Basic - White & Cream Tops

Today, I'm wearing (again) what is really the cornerstone of my wardrobe - a white or cream top with skinny blue jeans. If you look back on my outfit shots on Instagram, you'll see how much both of these items feature because they are the starting point for so many different outfits. A simple change of footwear or jacket, or the addition of a great necklace, totally transforms the look day to day.

It's the basis on which I've streamlined my wardrobe in recent months and while it might not make for radically different outfit shots on the blog, it does make the business of getting dressed a whole lot easier these mornings.

I'll cover the skinny jeans next week but on this post, I'm going to share my pick of some great white and cream tops in the shops right now. In terms of which colour to wear, the general rule is that warmer complexions suit cream and cooler complexions suit white but I'm not good with rules and enjoy wearing both. I know I suit cream better though so when I wear white ones, I always slap on a bit of fake tan and it seems to help make it work on my warmer/autumn colouring.

Starting with my current favourite white top - from Heatons:
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Monday, 22 June 2015

Boden's Alice Shoes on the School Run?

When the Boden Alice heels were launched back at the beginning of SS15, it was a case of instant love. I salivated over them and added them to my basket regularly but the sensible side of me never went through with the purchase because at the end of the day, they're not school run shoes and I'm not in a position to wear heels every day. They would have become beautiful ornaments to be worn at occasions....occasionally.

It was as if Johnnie heard my laments because what do you know - Boden released a flat version of these stunning shoes last month! And as if that wasn't good enough - they offered me a pair to road test on the school run. Well - talk about a no-brainer...meet my Alice Flats in Amethyst...
I will admit to staring at them for quite a while when they arrived. They really are as beautiful in real life and like all of Boden's footwear, extremely well made (leather lined/soled/uppers). Size-wise, they don't come in half sizes so I went up to a 40 and they fit me well. Some room but not enough for the 39 to fit my wide foot.
For their day on the school run, I kept the  rest of my outfit fairly simple but couldn't resist this leopard scarf that had some purple on it. It's an old scarf I've had for years and years.



Jeans - Maison Scotch (past season)
Cross Body Bag - Gap (sold out - good leather options herehere & here)
Leopard Scarf - so old I can't remember where I got it!

Comfort wise - I wore them all day and found them great. I had the usual issues I get with very flat shoes in that I'd not wear them on a long walk but they were perfect for my usual to-ing and fro-ing and for a few meetings I had scheduled while the kids were at school.

My only dilemma was that I don't want them to get wrecked...part of me wants to wrap them up in tissue and not use! But I also feel strongly about wearing things that make you happy and give you joy every time you look at them and these really do tick that box for me. So much so, I'm tempted to pick up the black ones as I think they would be great for choir gigs.

So what do you think? Too fancy for the school run or have Boden struck gold with some high heel glamour in a flat practical school run shoe?

Ax

Disclosure - these shoes were provided to me free of charge by Boden. I was not paid to write about them nor was I obliged to. All views and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support my blog :) xx

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Friday, 19 June 2015

Stop with the sales emails.....

I can't cope....it's typical that as soon as you've no money to spend, you start getting the sale emails galore and you realise you need it ALL!
I've pared back my wardrobe quite significantly since we moved and had contented myself with keeping things simple but some sort of sales fever has hit. Here's what's been tempting me...

Over at & Other Stories, my navy sandal itch could be scratched with these beauties. Perfect for autumn and spring, as well as summer, I'm thinking these could be an amazing buy
Slingback Leather Wedges - & Other Stories
also, if you're looking for a black leather cross body (and every mum should have one) - this one is half price at £32. Also available in a grey colour..
Leather Crossbody - & Other Stories
and so much more on this link - I could go on and on about their sale but there are others I'm loving too, including these few pieces from the Baukjen sale - a brand I love for quality but which generally falls outside my budget - except when there's a sale. This is the best time to pick up their essential jersey range that gets rave reviews on the site. I think this jumpsuit is a good buy too - I'm always asked about my black jersey jumpsuit I got last summer and this one looks like a more wearable one for daytime.
Rosewell Jumpsuit - Baukjen 
Baukjen also have some fab unique pieces like this Nadia Limited Tweed Top, which has called to me from the catalogue since I saw it first. It's still pricy in the sale but it's one of those really special pieces and I just love how they've styled it here with a denim shirt - I think it's a really wearable top year-round.
Nadia Limited Tweed Top - Baukjen
Moving on to good old M&S which has a 50% sale ongoing at the moment. This messenger bag is a big favourite of mine. It's got some Mulberry vibes going on and the leather is amazing (strictly speaking not in the sale but is 20% off on a promotion at the moment)
Leather Cross Body Messenger Bag - M&S
The M&S website is a bit of a monster so when I'm searching for sale bargains, I always scroll down to the brand section and select Autograph, Limited Edition and Best of British. Otherwise, I get bored scrolling.
I find myself strangely drawn to this - I think it would be great during the summer as an alternative to a jacket but it could also work well in Autumn layered over a denim shirt. I've taken a screenshot from the video on the site as the photos of this online are predictably awful
Faux Leather Gilet - M&S
But apart from that, much of what I liked in this season's drop is sold out online - when it comes to the M&S sale, I find it's better to look in-store.
Over at Joules, my denim dress is now reduced and there are some great swimwear bargains if you've not yet bought for the summer - on this link
Melcome Chambray Dress - Joules 
and on the theme of items I have in my wardrobe that I love - my Lorraine coat is now half price over at JD Williams...
Finally, for this post (there will be more as the sales go live elsewhere), if you've a special occasion coming up, the Coast sale has some amazing reductions that are making me wish I had a wedding to go to..

Hope you're having a good Friday
Ax


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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

It started with sandals...

I never checked the weather, having been lulled into a false sense of summer security over the past week so when I pulled up the blinds just before taking these photos, I got a shock as it was raining!
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Monday, 15 June 2015

What to wear to 'big school' induction...

Last week saw my son's grammar school induction - the first chance for parents and the boys to meet teachers and fellow pupils. The parents got the talk about child protection and curriculum while the boys got to do some fun activities in their house groups and eat sweets.

What's a girl to wear I wondered? This will be my new school gate - albeit one I'll not see that often as he will make his own way there and home on the bus. I wanted to look respectable but not look like I'd tried too hard. On trend without looking scruffy. A regular dilemma for a work at home mum.

I decided on my trusty Maison Scotch skinny jeans - a bit distressed but not torn. Paired with my Clarks strappy sandals that have enough of a heel to feel smart but are low enough to walk easily in. The top half was a bit harder. It was a gorgeous sunny day so my New Look navy jersey jacket felt a bit dark...but I liked the rest of the outfit.
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Friday, 12 June 2015

Joules Denim Dress & TopShop Lace-Up Sandals

It's felt like months since I posted about my Joules denim dress that my mother in law bought me. We saw it during one of those lovely sunny days back in April...which was followed by two months of winter. I began to think I'd never get to wear it - but today was the day.

Another reason for not wearing it was because I really wanted to get a pair of flat tan sandals to wear with it and I struck gold during a quick duck into Topshop yesterday. While I loved the Fig sandals that so many bloggers have been rocking, I wanted to get something a bit different and ideally less expensive so these ones for £26 were ticking lots of boxes!
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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Maxi Dress Perfection from Onjenu

I had never heard of Onjenu so when they contacted me to see if I'd like to review something from their latest collection, I wasn't sure what to expect. Within minutes, I found myself struggling to chose between all the gorgeous prints!
I'll be honest, the prices are a higher than I'd normally pay for a dress so I was curious to see if they were going to live up to the price tag. I wasn't disappointed...
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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Meeting Lorraine and a catch up on the rest of the week's outfits!


It's been one of those weeks - I've hardly sat still the whole time...so here's a quick run down on the outfits I wore and what I got up to. You'll have seen many of them if you follow me over on Instagram - the place to be to see things as they happen :)

Wednesday saw me meeting Lorraine Kelly and Mark Heyes over at the JD Williams press day. I was utterly star struck even though both of them were so down to earth and lovely.
Lorraine's new range for AW15 looks great. 
She said herself that she's been much more involved this season and braver with her designs. The full range will be available on the JD Williams site soon - I'll be sure to let you know when it launches. Incidentally, Mark also designs for one of the Marisota plus size brands, AVA...and he was showcasing his range too.
I then took a quick look at the Simply Be collection. I didn't realise it caters for size 12 in many of its ranges and will be incorporating more size 10's in the range going forward too as the designs are so popular. I was very glad to hear that having seen some of the pieces they have in their AW15 range....
and wow the shoes!
Thursday was a real catch-up day....this is what I wore during the day:
Jeans - Lidl size 12
Navy Quilted Handbag - Dune (via TK Maxx last year)
and then in the evening I had to go to Crumlin Road Gaol for a dress rehearsal ahead of the choir's appearance on Friday's The One Show and BBC2 NI's Music Day programme so it was a quick change into the usual choir uniform..
Yellow Cardigan - via our Choir Director, Marie, who bulk buys them online. They're not fabulous quality but do the job for occasional wear at concerts.
Black Jumpsuit - Matalan (SS14 - similar)
Black Ballet Pumps - Emmy Twenty (no longer in business...nice ones in New Look here)
Cross Body Bag - Gap (sold out in black)

On Friday, I had returns to do, new stock to pick up for the shop, orders to post and a friend to meet.. 
Military Jacket - Hush (now sold out)
Black Stripe Top - Hush (past season similar)
Jeans - Lidl as before
Bag & Shoes as before

but it was another quick change at lunchtime, for yet another dress rehearsal at the Gaol all afternoon before our live performance from 7.30pm. If you're interested, you can see the choir on the One Show on this link and on our BBC2 NI show on this linkI don't feature on the One Show link as it was so short but I do appear a few times on the second one. I'm up on the balcony beside where the presenters do a few of their links.

Saturday, I took 2 of the kids to Ikea for some stuff we didn't need...
Kimono - New Look (SS14 - a bit similar here & here)
Black Top - F&F at Tesco (old)
Jeans - Gap Forever Stretch Legging (via Gap Outlet)
Necklace, Bag & Shoes as before.

and on Sunday, it was a long promised trip to the cinema. I tried to explain to the kids that when the sun shines, the cinema is the last place you should be but they were having none of it. Cue 90 minutes of my life I will never get back in the form of Sponge Bob. I normally enjoy the kids' movies but not this one.
Dark Denim Jacket - M&S from about 3 years ago (similar here & here)
Necklace - SGS Shop (past season)

Here's to a slightly quieter week this week coming. For anyone who's ordered from the shop, all orders will be dispatched tomorrow (Monday) including all the black flower necklace orders. Thanks for your patience with these out of stock items...I can't get anymore of the black one but most other items will be back in stock again by Monday afternoon.

Ax
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Belfast to Kildare Village Day Trip

During May, I was challenged by Kildare Village to see if it was feasible for a group of mums to take a day trip to the Village after the school run....and return the same evening.

So I rounded up a few of my blogging friends who are also mums and we took up the challenge. We met at Sprucefield at 9.30am after all the kids had been safely left to school and the drive south began.
It's 127 miles in total and according to Google Maps, it should take just over 2 hours. I was sceptical as I make this journey regularly with the family but in fact, it did only take that...as we didn't have to take into account multiple toilet stops! So at 11.40, we were at the Village ready to start shopping.
L-R at the giant macaroons...Emma (Adventures of an Unfit Mother), Karen (Raising Mighty Girls), myself & Nic (Strawberry Blonde Beauty Blog)

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

You'll never guess where this coat is from!

This coat is exciting for a few reasons. Firstly, it's amazing...fab shape, geo pattern, great colour and the perfect weight for in-between weather but it's also the reason why I'm heading to London tomorrow (Wednesday)!

Believe it or not, it's from Lorraine Kelly's range at JD Williams - go Lorraine! And wait till you hear this.....I'm wearing it to London tomorrow to go and meet Lorraine! <faint>
Here I am wearing it a couple of times last week where it was a hit at the school gate.
Grey Jumper - Jack Wills (SS14)
Black Jeans - Gap Forever Stretch Legging (via outlet)
Necklace - SGS Shop (SS14)
Jeans - M&S (ancient via charity shop!)


I love when older brands funk up their range and although JD William's demographic will always be a bit older than I dress, it's great to see them starting to incorporate some on-trend pieces to attract us younger gals in and I love that one of my favourite TV presenters, herself a busy mum, is behind this.

Keep an eye on Instagram and Facebook tomorrow where I'll record my journey over to meet Lorraine and see the JD Williams, Simply Be and Jacomo ranges for AW15.

Ax


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Monday, 1 June 2015

Weekend Outfits

Just a quick post as I'm still working on my Kildare Village one I promised...so many photos!! But I put a couple of outfits on Instagram over the weekend and had lots of questions about where I bought from so I thought it would be handy to put up a post with the links to same and similar items.

Saturday was the school sports day. Our school do it so well - it's held in the Mary Peter's track in Belfast for all classes in the school and runs from 10am to 2pm. It's always good to to catch up with lots of  parents as we are often rushing at school pick up and drop off time. It's also amazing for the kids to have the chance to run on this world class track and every child has the opportunity to run a full 400m. This year, they finally made the mother's race a 50m dash rather than a full 400m so I was happy to take part* - hence the trainers...my one and only purchase from Kildare Village incidentally!
Trainers - Nike Air Sculpt TR (though they're only 38 euro in Kildare!!)
Jeans - Gap Forever Stretch Leggings (via Outlet)
Jacket - Vero Moda via eBay (not the same seller as mine but the same jacket)
Scarf - Avenue 57
Cross Body Bag - Gap (sold out in the black)
*I won bronze! Not bad for an oldie :)
Sunday was a chilled day...I didn't venture far from the house but I had lots of visitors come to play with the kids. At one stage, there were 9 kids in the house! Thank goodness the rain stayed off and they were able to play outside for most of the day. My outfit was all about the layers...

Jersey cardigan - Linea @ House of Fraser (past season)
White T-Shirt - Next (great basic - I have them in lots of colours)
Jeans - as before
Scarf - New Look (past season)
Loafers - Seven Boot Lane
Necklace - SGS Shop (heading towards a second sell out!)

I hope you had a good weekend - keep warm and dry if you're in my neck of the woods....looks like tomorrow is going to be more like the 2nd of November with an amber weather warning :)

Ax
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