Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Affordable Leather from Yoshi

Ok - I've given myself a kick up the backside and we're back into blogging mode again after that more reflective last post. The comments and offline messages have been really helpful - thank you. I'll keep blogging away as much as I can and you'll be the first to hear if there are any developments on the work side of things. But back to business today with a brand find I think you're going to like.

When it comes to handbags, I am a total PU/Faux Leather snob. It's the only area of my wardrobe I won't compromise on anymore because a leather bag always looks better and lasts longer...though sadly, they're often considerably more expensive - especially lovely soft leathers that get better with age.

So it was great to come across Yoshi recently when they contacted me to see if I would like to feature them on the blog. As soon as I clicked onto the website, the lovely leather, stunning colours and huge range of practical yet beautiful styles really impressed me. The handbags start from £40 and are all made from soft Nappa leather.

I was offered my pick of the range to review and early on knew the sulphur colour was the one for me...but which style? 
After much deliberation, I opted for a bag that would work hard for me as both a clutch and a cross body. One that would comfortably fit all I need to carry every day but not so big that it's difficult to carry as a cross body.

Meet the Lowry Saffron Leather Handbag by Yoshi (check out the fab dust bag!)
Instantly, the leather smell wafted out and I could see that the bag was gloriously soft and beautifully made. The stitching is perfect, as is the subtle branding on the bag. I'm not a fan of big logos or bags that shout out designer names.
The foldover style is very much up my street and I have a few similar style bags in my wardrobe already. I love that this bag is a little bigger and also is cut to allow you to open up the bag easily to see what is inside...essential when you're trying to locate lost keys.
I am really pleased with the colour also - it's more mustard/tan coloured than I expected, making it even more neutral and wearable with blacks/browns/greys/blues. I kept it simple last week (on a warmer day) with black..
Black Cotton Tunic - ℅ EKO Organic
White Jeans - H&M
Black Sandals - Topshop
Necklace - A21 Pendant from this post
and then today with navy. Also loving how well it goes with this scarf from the shop - the one I wore so much over the summer...
Scarf - SGS Shop (limited stock)
Denim Shirt - White Company Outlet
Navy Ash Jalouse - Bought last winter (similar here)
White Jeans - as before

Here are a few other bags I've got my eye on from the Yoshi collection - adore this fig colour:
Turing Bag in Fig Leather - £50
Cullen Bag in Mushroom Leather - £75
Jenner Bag in Ink Leather - £40
and how much fun is this? Makes me hungry looking at it!
What a wonderful, creative brand at an affordable price. Right up my street! 

Ax

Disclaimer - I was gifted my handbag by the team at Yoshi. I wasn't paid to write this blog post, nor was I under any obligation to do so. All the words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog
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Friday, 18 September 2015

The week that was...

This week's been a really strange one. I've had major blogging doubts - should I continue, will I keep the shop going, do I want to share so much of my life online, should I find a 'proper' job ??? - all these questions have been firing in my head for the past few days and I'm not sure what triggered it. It's possibly the fact that it's September, the weather doesn't know what to do, my wardrobe is an awkward mixture of sandals and chunky knitwear and I'm on a spending ban until Boston. Or could it be a sort of 7-year itch?

Blogging is amazing and it's my space and I kind of get to work for myself but the reality is the pay is rubbish and it could never be a full time job with a proper salary for me. It was lovely to have as a sideline while the kids had a nap and I was squeezing in an hour or two here or there but I don't want to do it all day, every day, now they're all at school.

Get a 'proper' job is the loudest voice in my head right now. I wonder if just like the voice in my head that told me to be at home for the kids 7 years ago, is there also a voice for when you don't need to be ever present in the home anymore? I love the time I spend on here and I'd never give it up. Don't worry - I'm definitely keeping this baby going but I feel the need to do something else.

So what's a girl to do? All the questions....no answers yet though as is always the case with blogging, sometimes writing it down gives a bit of clarity. Please let me know if you are, or have been in a similar space with your life - especially if you took the leap of going back to your career after a long break. Am I mad to go back into a challenging role and the long hours and politics that come with that?

Finishing up with this week's outfits....Monday and Tuesday were gym gear days as I start the slog of getting back to fitness again. Wednesday was the first really chilly morning so I got the leopard out..
Boiled Wool Coat - Esprit (past season - similar here & here)
Cream Laura Top - ℅ Hush (size 12)
Jeans - F&F at Tesco (past season)
Eloise Charcoal Ankle Boots - ℅ Seven Boot Lane (with 15% off using SGS15)

Thursday it was all the greys..
Textured Biker Jacket - Next Clearance (some 10's & 12's left online - mine's a 10 - you need to scroll to find it as I'm not able to put a direct link up)
Jeans - 2nd Day (past season)
White Top - Heatons (past season)
Boots - as before

Today - I'm working a bit of camo
Denim Jacket - Vero Moda (via eBay)
Black Top - Next
Culottes - ASOS (now £8.50! Mine are a size 12)
Black Leather Slip-On Trainers - Dune (past season - similar here & here)
Scarf - SGS Shop

Hope you have a lovely weekend everyone. I'm off to think some more :)

Ax

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Lidl AW15 Clothing Range Launches....

The team behind the Lidl clothing range came to Belfast last week to show off the new AW15 offering and it's clear that following the success of the SS15 range, the brand is going from strength to strength. There was a great range of on-trend items at amazing prices - so much so that I found myself in my local Lidl 2 days later nabbing some of it before it sells out. Here's the blurb...

With a focus on trends that are both wearable and affordable, savvy shoppers at Lidl can expect to see skinny trousers in black, rust and leopard print (£8.99), printed shift tops (£6.99) and parka jackets in khaki and red (£11.99) arriving onto the shelves of Lidl this September. Other highlights of the collection this autumn include romantic statement blouses featuring chic Victorian-style lace in black and burgundy (£4.99) and black biker boots (£14.99).
November will see the release of a kimono-style, Aztec print cardigan (£7.99), and sleek, faux suede waterfall jackets in black and khaki (£9.99), cosy jumper dresses in burgundy and cream (£7.99), leather look jeggings (£4.99) and ankle boots (£12.99). 
Lidl’s AW15 range also includes a selection of seventies inspired pieces, including ponchos priced at just £22.99 and available in a variety of colours.



I shared some of my favourite pieces on social media on the launch day:
The poncho/capes are undoubtedly the stars of the show and will be available to buy on the 10th December. But there are some lovely pieces that are currently in stores. On Thursday past, I picked up the leopard top, faux leather jacket and the plain black top (with leather look sleeves). All great pieces for the school run...both now while the weather is still in limbo and later when things cool down - I'm looking forward to wearing the jacket under my grey Next gilet.
I'll be honest and say that I'm not feeling the footwear or bags - I'm afraid when it comes to handbags and boots, they have to be real leather.  I guess we all have areas of our wardrobe that we chose to spend more on. But it's getting great clothing at prices like Lidl's that allows me to indulge my leather love elsewhere :)

So keep an eye out in your local Lidl each Thursday if there's anything that's caught your eye in the photos above. I've a comprehensive list of dates when each item will be available so drop me a line if there's a particular item you want to watch out for.

Ax

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

♠️ Giveaway - Kate Spade Handbag ♠️

I bought this bag way back in July and it's taken me until now to do this blog post....sorry for keeping you waiting. In all honesty, it was down to a busy summer...but better late than never eh?

So this giveaway is for a Kate Spade bag in the most gorgeous shade of ocean blue.

It's made from butter soft leather and can be used as a grab bag or as a cross body or shoulder bag, using the long strap that comes with it.
Embossed with the Kate Spade logo and a silver colour 'spade', it's a beautiful bag that will brighten up your winter wardrobe, looking equally well with navy, black and grey based outfits.

Entry is simple via the Rafflecopter widget below, which stores & verifies the entries for me and choses a winner at random once the closing date has passed.

Closing date is Saturday 26th September at 12 midnight and I'll announce the winner on Sunday 27th.

Thanks for all the support you give me on a daily basis with your comments, emails and lovely messages that just make my day and make this blog such a pleasure to write.

Ax
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, 11 September 2015

ShoeTherapy Ballerina Flats

I'm asked on average once a month about the best place to buy classic good quality black ballerina pumps and up until late August, I really didn't have a recommendation I could stand over. I was wearing a pair I bought early last year (from a company that is no longer in existence) that served me well but needed replaced and I was on the look out for a well priced leather pair that would give support to the foot, without sacrificing on style.

Well all thats changed now because a few weeks ago, the team behind ShoeTherapy contacted me to tell me about their foot loving shoes. Everything in the email was exactly what I've been looking for...

'ShoeTherapy was invented by a team of doctors and orthopedists. The sole is the result of over 10 years of research on anatomy, biomechanics and neurology. It is internationally patented and clinically proven to reduce up to 75% of back and joints pains. Cecile Reinaud, the founder of ShoeTherapy started designing these shoes when she was pregnant with her second child and suffered with lower back pain.'

As you all know, my back is an ongoing issue for me. It's manageable at the moment but if I wear very flat or unsupportive shoes for a day, I pay the price the next. I'm not saying a pair of shoes alone will fix a serious back issue but a small amount of shock absorption and a slight incline in the heel will definitely reduce the impact of each step on your joints.

What impressed me the most about the ShoeTherapy offering though is the price point. They're not cheap - no good footwear is cheap. But they are very much affordable....exactly at the kind of price I would want to pay for something I wear so often (my last pair were £65 but the price per wear was definitely in single pence figures by the time I retired them). Oh and there's a discount code for all readers of the blog - scroll down to find it!

When I opened the box, I could tell they were going to be comfy. On advice from the Shoe Therapy team, I opted for a size 7 and although the 6 may have just about fitted, they would have been a bit tight on my wider foot.
Any concern that I had about the sole looking a bit 'orthopaedic' was swiftly removed once I put them on as it's impossible to tell that they have that bit of bounce in them, once you are wearing them.
They arrived with me on the 28th August and the proof that they are now an essential part of my wardrobe is the fact that I've worn them on at least 7 occasions since:
But ShoeTherapy is not only about basic black ballet flats - they have a great range of pumps and loafers...in lots of gorgeous colours and prints. All with built in support for the foot and joints.
Clockwise L-R: Fuchsia Detail Pumps, Python Loafers, Nude Buckle Ballerina, Blue Suede Loafers

Bravo ShoeTherapy - so delighted to find this brand and share with you all and I've saved the best bit till last - there's 15% off for all School Gate Style readers. Simply use the code SHOE15 at checkout!

Ax
Disclaimer - the shoes were provided free of charge by Shoe Therapy but I was not paid to write this post. All words (apart from those I cut and pasted from the Shoe Therapy website) are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Browsing, not shopping...


This week, I'm trying to browse and not shop. It's really boring I know but if I want to be able to eat and drink in Boston, that's the deal. But the best thing about blogging is that I've an outlet to share my finds....thus helping with the not-buying.

First up, Matalan. On this last blog post where I bought and sent back the Boden Lille flats, I alluded to having found a pair of Lille style lace up flats that actually fit me, don't show toe cleavage and aren't black. On the downside, they're not leather but they're £15 and worth a punt I reckon... especially in this versatile colour way:
(...gym gear is not the best outfit for these shoes - please excuse it!)

I also loved these loafer style flats in black patent - seem to be having a thing for black patent at the moment.
That was all in Matalan - I feel like their prices have gone up a bit recently with the quality not entirely meriting it. Perhaps I'm being unfair - tell me if I'm missing something and I will happily go back (and drool over the lace up shoes again!)

Next, Aldo...where I bought my brogues the other week and I was back in there yesterday as I had spotted a pair of sale sandals that I decided I had to have. Lucky for my spending ban, they were gone but be still my beating heart.....

Kieu High Heels - £80...steep in more ways than one!
and for flat shoe lovers too....
and what a great Chloe copy handbag....and the boots aren't bad either!
Finishing with Tesco where I was super impressed with the latest drop, starting with this great trench/mac (not online yet)
also loving the print on this woven front jumper - also not yet online, frustratingly!
This dress is so pretty...the blue is more intense in real life. Just a gorgeous cut and perfect for work but also would be great with tights and brogues for a slightly more dressy school run.
And this cape has been getting hearts all a flutter on Avenue 57 so I had to try it on. It didn't suit what I was wearing but it's lovely - sold out online at the moment but plenty in Newtownbreda.

but I think I might have preferred this shawl with the shades of grey in it..
Finishing with my outfit from today - wearing an M&S jacket that I featured on the blog Facebook page recently. I'd tried it on during the sale in August but didn't buy. As I was lamenting the fact that I'd missed out, Lesley (you know who you are!) got in touch as she'd managed to order one to her local store in my size. The deal was done and she posted it to me within a matter of days. What a superstar - thank you Lesley! It's late in the season to get another jersey jacket but it's been great this week.....perfect weather for it.
Jacket - M&S Sale
Jeans - M&S Past Season
Black T - H&M Conscious Collection (past season)
Ballet Pumps - Shoe Therapy (will tell you more in my next blog post!)

Anywhere else I should go for a 'browse'? let me know and I'm on it :)

Ax
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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Gateway to the North Coast - Roe Park Resort

This is a bit off-piste from my usual content and when I got the email from Roe Park Resort asking if the family and I would like to experience 2 night's B&B in this 4* hotel in Limavady, my immediate reaction was that it would be a lovely treat for us all but at the end of the day, not particularly blog relevant....so I asked to have some time to think about it.

That same week, the kids were talking in the back of the car about bucket lists (yes...at age 6 & 11) and one of the girls said (without knowing about my email) 'all I have on my bucket list is to go stay in a hotel and swim in the pool'. Yes...they're almost 7 years old but we've never stayed in a hotel with them...we've always doubted it could be much of relaxing break having 5 of us sleeping in the one room! I decided this could be the chance to test the family hotel break concept...for us and perhaps for you too if it's something you've wondered about doing.
I accepted the challenge and we headed up just a few days before school resumed.
It took us just over an hour to get there from Belfast and first impressions of the Roe Park Resort were good. We got a lovely welcome at reception and across the board, the staff were super friendly and chatty. I've actually stayed at the hotel once before when I was about 34 weeks pregnant with the twins and it still looked as well - 7 years on.

We were early arriving so our room wasn't ready but we were allowed to go and use the pool in the meantime. Small gripe at the pool in that you have to wear a hat...and not knowing this in advance, we hadn't brought ours with us. Frustrating but £12.50 later, we were ready to go!
...bucket list about to be ticked!

Safe to say the kids loved the pool - it's small enough that you can keep a close eye on them and not too busy either. There is a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna for the over 16's (the 11 year old was not impressed) so hubby and I both enjoyed taking turns at some kid-free time in all 3.

The hotel is conveniently located on the Roe River which cuts through the on-site golf course.
It's a fishing paradise here - we met countless fishermen on our exploration of the Roe Valley trails. With these trails and the nearby town of Limavady, there's really no need for the car on a short break here but we wanted to make the most of the fact that this part of the country is a gateway to the North Coast - to Portrush/Portstewart & the Causeway Coast which we visit regularly already but also to the Lough Swilly coastline, Donegal and Londonderry.

So next day, we took a drive to Benone strand, onto which you can drive the car. We had a good dry day so the kids had a great time paddling in the sea and building sandcastles. Such gorgeous views to be had here of the Donegal coastline and it has the bonus of being less busy than Portstewart Strand (and free to use).
Screwball Ice creams are an optional extra :)
We also visited the Martello Tower at Magilligan....(open this weekend as part of the European Heritage Days). It wasn't open when we were there but there's a lovely walk around it and down to the small beach.
The kids loved running through the dunes and watching the Magilligan/Greencastle ferry coming in and going out - it links Donegal with Derry making this part of the country an excellent base from which to visit across the border.
But for me, the bit I enjoyed most about this visit was getting to know Limavady. It's such a gorgeous wee town for shopping in with many lovely boutiques and gift shops. It was very difficult to resist the ladies boutiques so I distracted myself by shopping in Wigwam - a lovely kids clothing & toy shop with a huge range of Name-It clothing - and Finishing Touches Too - full of lovely gift items like these tile coasters (loads more on their Facebook pages)
Back to the hotel though and I'm sure you're all wondering how we got on in one bedroom for two nights? It was, erm...'interesting' and I'm not sure I'd want to do it for longer than 2 nights with the kids. Earplugs were our friends!
But to see the fun the kids had in the pool (2 long visits each day) and on the beach...and on our walks along the River Roe, it was worth it. And an unexpected benefit was coming home feeling the benefit of having 2 early nights!

Next time though? I'm going with just the hubby.....that and a trip to the spa is on my bucket list!

Ax
Disclosure - The family and I were treated to 2 nights B&B and one evening meal, compliments of the Roe Park Resort. We paid for all extras (e.g. wine!) and our second day's dinner. I was not obliged to blog about the stay and all the words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that support this blog.


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