My Sister's Boden Party

This week I abandoned the family and headed down to Tipperary to visit my family and help my sister with her Boden Party. It was she who made me aware of Boden many years ago so when they started the Irish party programme, it was fitting that that called her.  Imagine the Boden girl's surprise when she heard we were sisters! I knew the space she has would be perfect for a party - this is how it looked before the guests started to arrive.
So when there were a few breaks in the day, I tried on as much as I could so here goes with a picture heavy try-on a bit dodgy but hopefully you'll get the gist! First up - there was major shoe love going on...very impressed with the selection that was sent:



The Lidl Denim Shirt

I first spotted the Lidl denim shirt at the press day way back and knew it was going to be one of the hero pieces of their new clothing collection.

Then I got a tip off that it would be in shops during the week of the 11th May but when I couldn't get to Lidl that week, a lovely friend I've met via Avenue 57 offered to buy one for me as she'd seen them in her local store. I met Tanya last week for a coffee and finally, it was mine!


For all the clothes I never wear...The Zip Yard!

This seemed like an apt post to follow on from the shoes I never wear post. I am as ruthless with my clothing as I am with my shoes but like all women, I have a few lovely items tucked away in the wardrobe that I love but which don't fit me or my lifestyle, so an approach from local company, The Zip Yard, got me wondering if I could be more creative with these items.

Now for starters, I had no idea that The Zip Yard is a local company - started up here in NI about 10 years ago. Since then it has extended the franchise right across Ireland and the UK with plans to take it further afield in the future. You can see if there's an outlet near you on this link
I've used the company in the past for dry cleaning and minor pieces of work like hems and zips but I genuinely never realised that they have talented seamstresses working in each of their outlets that can perform miracles with pretty much anything in your wardrobe that you don't wear anymore. Time to challenge them with a couple of mine....

Challenge 1 for the Lisburn Road shop was to make a wearable piece out of this dress by Darling, a sale buy a while back that, in truth, is too tight for me across the hips and although I love the print, it wears me...but I adore the yellow!
Challenge 2 was this jumpsuit, another sale purchase, this time by a favourite brand of mine - Maison Scotch. But I've struggled to wear it at all as the buttons are really awkward to open and close - no joke with a jumpsuit!
The guys in the Zip Yard suggested that I turn the dress into a top, shorten the sleeves and vent the sides to give more hip room!
It makes such a difference and this transformation got me thinking about other dresses that I rarely wear and what lovely tops they would make. The cost for shortening the dress while keeping it slightly longer at the back, introducing side vents AND shortening the sleeves was just £20 - which, given I got the dress in a sale for £15, makes this bespoke top a complete bargain.
With the jumpsuit, I'd considered replacing the buttons with a zip but I had reservations about the all over print, so when it was suggested that I split it into a separate top and trouser, there was a bit of a eureka moment - two items of clothing from one sounded good to me...

I just know I'm going to wear these separates so much more than I would have worn the jumpsuit. The cost here was a little more at £30, as the trousers had to have an elasticated waist added and I also wanted the tiny cap sleeve removed from the top half.

Since these photos, and because I was so delighted with the results, I've been back to the Zip Yard with my Only patch jeans....which deteriorated in recent weeks and now expose way too much of my left knee. I'll share the results of this when I pick them up later this week.

And if you want a further taste of what The Zip Yard can do, That Belfast Girl worked on this project too - transforming a vintage blazer into this waistcoat!

Photo credits - Jude Malone Creative

Disclosure - The Zip Yard covered the cost of the dress and jumpsuit alterations and paid me for the time spent writing this post. However, all the words are my own and I was not obliged to blog if the alterations were not to my liking. Thanks for supporting the local brands that support this blog!


To All The Shoes I Never Wear....

(sung Julio Iglesias style)
It's a fess up post to celebrate the shoes I never wear. I'll start with explaining that I come from a family where shoe addiction is rife. Where shoes are bought regardless of occasion or comfort - but purely because it would be wrong not to and mostly because they're in a sale of some sort.
Since marrying my parsimonious husband and moving further from the shoe addicted siblings and mother, I've definitely curbed the buying but I'm a still a sucker for a good shoe sale and have always had a decent collection of shoes I never wear. Yup - NEVER!

So when we came to move house in December, there was a massive shoe cull...between my back issues and the fact that we were moving to a smaller house with less shoe storage, I consigned and charity shopped about 30% of my footwear - mostly the high or uncomfortable ones. But believe it or not, I *still* have shoes I never wear. I'm sure you do too - in a straw poll of my friends, everyone admitted to at least 1 pair they can't bear to part with.

Well here are my 5 pairs....soon to become 2...
Left to Right -
1 Next Leopard Mid Heel Courts. Loved these when I bought them but I got a negative comment on the blog when I wore them once and it put me off think I'd be wiser to that by now but clearly I'm not.
2 Boden Pointed Flats - I obsessed over these and watched them like a hawk until they were well reduced at the end of the season. Bought them, wore them once and that was it. They're too narrow for my foot and I have very little blue in my wardrobe so I struggled to match them.
3 River Island Tan Strappy Heels - Look amazing, are actually quite on trend at the moment but they are too high, too narrow and too small for me. Sale purchase gone wrong...I might have had lunch with a drink before I bought them.
4. Hobbs NW3 leather loafers - no idea why I don't wear these. The heel is a bit of an untrendy height but these are beautifully made - leather lined, leather soled & uppered, so I can't bear to part with them. I will wear them before the week is out - I promise.

Finishing with the ones I'm wearing - the Coast Valentino copies. These - I love to look at. Bought when my back was at its worst and I couldn't even manoeuvre my foot into them. I think they were a kind of therapy for me at that time.
Once I was able for heels again, I attempted to wear them to an event and couldn't walk for a week afterwards. Hell on Heels...but how freaking gorgeous are they? I'm allowed one pair to look at surely and I think the girls would enjoy them when they're older...and look - a rainbow appeared on the floor when I put them on. It's a sign!!
So I'm selling the first 3 (LEOPARD ALREADY SOLD!), keeping the last 2. Full details on my wardrobe sale shop page on this link.



Call Off The Navy Jacket Search!

I've spent the last few weeks searching everywhere for a casual navy jacket. Who knew they were so hard to find? On an aside, having a list of items you need for your wardrobe is a great way to focus the mind when you go shopping. It was great the other day in Zara (where there were no navy jackets at all!) as it meant I held off buying randomly. But I digress...

What was I looking for in a jacket? Well, preferably jersey, a bit fitted, no lapels...I wanted casual and not like a work wear piece.

Well focussed mind no more while shopping as I found what I was looking for yesterday - in New Look. Now it only ticked two boxes as it's got lapels but it's such a lovely casual shape on so I'm not concerned about it looking too businesslike.
Perfect for this time of year and only £19.99. So I didn't stop there..
I picked up this cream top (I definitely needed one of those) for £7 in the sale - just loved the pretty arm detail. Can't find it online.
And I also got two pairs of jeans - these sale ones for £13. Again, not online sadly.
And these full price ones at £24.99
But having tried both pairs on, I am going to return the full price ones as I don't like the colour and where the knee tear is.
Speaking of knee tears, my Only patch jeans finally tore too much for me today while en-route to get the kids. Awkward knee exposure at the school gate resulted!
But here I am before they tore properly...
Pink Coat - Damart
Blue Oversized Top - Mango (AW14) Similar here
Jeans - Only (AW13) Similar here (on sale)
Navy Ballet Pumps - Zalando
Pink Blush Phoebe Necklace - SGS Shop

Off to The Zipyard with them tomorrow as I love them too much.

Hope you've had a great Monday. The winner of the Mulberry purse has been announced on Facebook and on the competition post on this link! Congratulations lucky lady!



Local Heroes - Castlecourt...

This is the first of a regular piece I want to do on the blog to feature local businesses here in Northern Ireland. I know lots of you aren't from here so I won't do these too often - about once a month or so - but in the case of this first one, I've lots of favourites picked from high street stores that we all have at our fingertips.
First up, I've chosen Belfast's original shopping centre - Castlecourt, which has just celebrated its 25th birthday. I came to Northern Ireland 20 years ago this year and I still remember my first trip to this shopping mecca. Coming from a small town in the South of Ireland, it was a BIG deal and I still enjoy shopping there now.


4 Outfits Changes in 1 Day was one of those days and I can't even blame the weather as it was a lovely here all day. I started the day with floral trousers, a blouse and a biker jacket. I had a couple of meetings so I like to avoid jeans on these occasions. But as I took these photos, I just wasn't quite feeling it and had there been time, I would have changed....but I figured I was over analysing and ran out the door.
Beige Biker Jacket - Dunnes (AW14)
Blouse - M&S (AW13)
Trousers - Topshop (via eBay)
Necklace - Topshop (via husband!)


Zara Belfast Re-Opens

At long last, Zara Belfast re-opened a couple of weeks ago! It felt like a very long 4 months since it shut without much notification back in January but it's been well worth waiting for as the new store is beautifully fitted out..



Strappy Tan Sandals Edit

It struck me last week when I wore my old favourite tan wedge sandals from Clarks, how useful they are - they get wheeled out every summer and worn all the time. I get endless compliments when I wear them and sad faces when I tell people that they're 3 years old and no longer in stock. They're such a wardrobe staple - comfy, match everything and look so timeless so here's my pick of the best strappy tan sandals on the high street at the moment.



Mulberry Giveaway!!

It's about time I showed you what was in that Mulberry bag I shared on Instagram a few weeks back when I was down at Kildare Village...


#Little Loves - Book Clubs, Boho Tops & Bolognese..

It's been a while so I thought it was time for another #littleloves on the blog...


This week I started our latest book club book - The Girl On the Train. I just know already it's going to be a good one. I've also started up a new book club on the street we've moved to though I'm not sure my liver can cope with two per month :) Our first book is 'Disclaimer' by Renee Knight so I better get moving with them both.


I'm loving Peter Kay's new comedy 'Car Share' - such a funny show that's been cheering up my Wednesday evenings. You can catch it on the iPlayer still - each one is only 30 minutes long and almost entirely set inside a car on a commute to work...but it works so well. Classic PK.


Election boring to me I'm afraid, especially here in NI where it's still all about religion and the past and nothing much to do with finding the best person for the job. I know women died to get me the vote but they're turning in their graves this week seeing the muppets we have to vote for here. I'm more interested in how things will go across the water and it's all happening as I type. Hubby is staying up to watch the action but I'm heading to bed to read. I loved this video from the guys over at Sky News...wondering who'll be 'getting it on' by the time this post gets published?


I could go on about the Hush Military Jacket but I've done it to death this week and anyway, it's now sold out again. So I'll show you a new top that kind of 'sneaked' into my wardrobe at the weekend. Local shop Menarys are the only stockist I know of near me that have the brand Esprit in-store and they buy in a really great edit. Anyway, they've been running 30% off promos on selected days recently so this was a complete steal and will be perfect now and in the summer too.
Boho Top - Esprit
Jeans - Lidl (available in-store for something mad like £7!)
Navy Slip On Trainers - Next (AW14)


Industrial quantities of Ragu using Delia's Recipe. It's something I do every couple of months and while it's a bit of a pain at the time, once you've bagged them up and fired in the freezer, it's the quickest dinner ever on a busy evening. It can be eaten on its own with pasta or used to make the most delicious lasagne.

and finally....

Nothing deep and meaningful here just some new beauty products that I've started to use and absolutely love. They're from a brand called Nuxe, which I'd not used before and can be picked up at M&S stores and online. My skin has been playing up majorly in recent months...hormones, peri-menopause, blah blah blah...but this Unclogging Thermo-Active mask is great. I've been using it about twice a week and so far, I've not had any clangers on the chin to distract all and sundry and it's not drying like other similar masks. My son is also using it now and again...getting to that age and how lovely that we can share spot treatments....
I'm also using their Micellar Rose Cleanser which is the most gorgeous smelling foaming cleanser I've come across in a long time (provided you like the scent of roses!). I use it along with Tropic Hot Cloth Cleanser for a double squeaky clean cleanse at night, and on it's own to wake me up in the morning. Bliss. Also in the picture is some suncream which I anticipate using soon....but this is Ireland and the excitement is in not knowing if I'll need it :)
Do take a peek at the other bloggers who did a #littleloves post this week over on Morgana's blog:
Have a great weekend my friends...I might pop out another post if the notion takes me :)



The Hush Military Jacket

This gets a whole post of its own as it's just such a brilliant buy. It was a long time arriving because of a sell-out of the first drop but it was really worth the wait. It's now back in stock on the Hush site and selling fast - the 10 and 12 has already sold out again! I'm awaiting info from the company as to when these sizes might come in again and will update this post when I know.
Based on the comments from readers who ordered it first time round, it seems like it's going to be a real spring staple. It goes with everything and isn't too dressy so it ticks two large boxes for me. The fact that it's so casual means I can add smarter boots or shoes and it keeps things feminine but not OTT dressy for the school run. Which is how I worked it today. It was nice to get a smarter top, necklace and heels on after too many days of stripes and trainers.


Converse Copies At Next

I've struggled with the school run staple - Converse style canvas trainers...both the brand name ones and the copies. I've tried to love them but the ones I've tried have been uncomfortable and just looked a bit weird on me. I look at other women wearing them and they seem to have bought theirs at the uber-cool effortlessly stylish shop while mine come from the fluorescent white lace, awkward footwear shop. So since my last futile attempt a couple of years back, I've avoided the trend entirely.

Then I was dandering through Next last week returning a rug (WHY oh why is is so hard to get a nice round rug?!!) and I spotted these...


Lazy Sundays

The Bank Holiday weekend rain finally stopped yesterday so I was out the door as quick as I could with the kids. We headed over to Holywood, parked at the Dirty Duck and walked over to Seapark. It was just what the doctor ordered - a dose of sea air and a chance to burn some energy off (in the case of the kids). It's easy to forget how beautiful the coastline around Belfast is and we're so lucky as it's just minutes from the house.
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