One of my most popular blog posts of last year was my preview of the Clarks AW15 collection. One of the highlights of the collection was the amazing shoe collaboration with designer Orla Kiely. I’m a big fan of her retro designs and prints anyway, but her collections from Clarks have been a real highlight for me.

Clarks Orla Kiely Abigail Shoes Brown
A couple of weeks ago I finally got my hands on a pair of her Abigail platform heels from the collection which I have been coveting for ages. At £130 they were a big purchase, and I only managed to get them when I was gifted a Clarks gift voucher at their last press day. Unfortunately they have since sold out on the Clarks site, however I’m sure a few pairs will pop up on eBay in the future and much of the Orla collection is still available on the Clarks website.

Orla Kiely Abigail Shoes from Clarks
I absolutely love the 70s influence to these gorgeous shoes, which also came in black and gold. They are so comfortable and go perfectly with all the fabulous 70s inspired clothes on the high street at the moment.

1960s outfit of the day - Clarks Orla Kiely Abigail shoes
I love mixing vintage with modern and I paired my Orla’s with an original 60s dress and handbag alongside a modern coat and tights. I really enjoyed injecting a little retro colour into an otherwise rainy day in the park.

Clarks Orla Abigail

Outfit Details

Shoes – Abigail Heels – £130 – Orla Kiely at Clarks 

Jacket – £30.00 – Primark (currently in stores)

Dress – Vintage 1960s – Car boot sale find

Tights – Primark

Handbag – Vintage Enid Collins – Ebay

I’m sorry if I’ve tempted you with shoes that are now sold out! 🙁 But there are lots of other lovely Orla styles on the Clarks website.

As you probably know from previous posts, one of my favourite nail polish companies would have to be Barry M. I have a huge collection of their lovely products and I’m always really excited when they launch anything new. A few weeks ago I was invited to an event they were hosting, to launch their new range of nail care products.

Barry M Nail Care Range Review

This is the first ever range of nail treatments from Barry M and it features 4 lovely products, all designed to condition and strengthen nails which need a little TLC. The range will be launching across all stores in January, however it can already be purchased in Marks and Spencer.

Barry M Nail Care Treatment Review

The range includes two clear polishes which strengthen nails and two with a subtle pigment which condition the nails. I’m quite prone to flaking nails, when I’ve used nail polish a lot, so these days I don’t use it very often. I’m really keen to try a product that will improve the overall condition of my nails.

I’ve only used the products a few times and although it’s too early to say if they perminently improve my nails, I’ve definitely seen a difference in their strength.

DSC_0624

The Super Mani and Iron Man treatments can be used on their own or as a base coat to help protect and improve your nails. I love their witty names and these are definitely super heros of the nail care world! I’ve most been using the Super Mani as my nails are quite hard, but prone to dryness and flaking.

Barry M Iron Mani and Super Mani Review

I’ve definitely seen an improvement in the overall condition of my nails, which feel stronger and definitely haven’t broken as much. It has lots of great ingredients including organ oil and keratin. I’ve been using it alongside the Mani Mask products as a base coat.

Barry M Nail Treatments Mani Mask

I really like the Mani Masks because they both come in pretty natural colours, so as well as conditioning your nails they also leave them looking even and manicured. They come with a semi matte finish which looks lovely and natural.

Barry M Mani Mask Review

This product would be perfect for people who want their nails to look nice, but can’t wear coloured polish to school or work.

I’m really excited to continue trying the products. If you’re a big barry M fan like me then these super affordable treatments will be right up your street. At only £3.99 each they are a great alternative to some of the pricier alternatives.

I’ve linked to the products on the Marks and Spencer website as they are currently available there. They will be launching across the high street in January. There is also currently a 2 for £6 offer on Barry M nails at Marks and Spencer! Yay! See the full range here

I find choosing outfits during winter so much harder than I do when the weather is warmer. In the summer you can throw on a cotton sun dress in any colour and it looks fabulous. As someone who doesn’t usually go for dark colours I struggle to find things I feel happy wearing. So naturally when I come across a black dress which fits beautifully, feels comfortable and I feel good wearing, I know I’m on to a winner.

The lovely House of Foxy recently rejoined me as a blog advertiser and offered me a dress to try from their beautiful range. I chose the lovely Grable dress in black and peony print and I absolutely love it. The Grable is a 1940s inspired dress which pays homage to the beautiful war time pin-up Betty Grable.

20th Century Foxy Grable Peony Dress
The dress has a light flowing chiffon top which gathers beautifully under the bust and features a tie detail at the neck. I found this part super flattering and easy to wear. I particularly liked the loose fitting short sleaves which lightly skim over the tops of the arms. If like me, you feel a little self conscious about your upper arms, then this a really good choice.

The skirt is made from a poly-rayon blend and is really light, I loved the way it skimmed over my least favourite places and I found it really flattering. The dress nips in at the waist and hides my tummy which I absolutely love. Because the dress is so light you can see the line of my girdle underneath it, so next time I’ll probably wear lighter underwear or a full slip underneath to smoothen it out a bit.

House of Foxy Grable Dress Review
I opted for a size 14 and was a little concerned that it would be too small on the bust, but it was actually just right. There was no gaping or stretching at all, because of the cut of the dress I think this could suit most bust sizes, so it’s not just one for the curvy girls.

Hotter Donna Pink
I am so happy with the dress and it’s definitely going to become one of my winter staples. I teamed the dress up with a few vintage bangles, an original 40s handbag, nude seamed stockings and my favourite shoes from Hotter. The dress also comes in navy polka dot finish which I’m very tempted by.

I’d also like to mention that all of House of Foxy’s products are made in the UK, using absolutely beautiful fabrics to a very high standard. Supporting small British businesses is really important to me. They are at the higher end price-wise but you get what you pay for in quality. I see dresses like this as investment pieces which will see me through a few years and will last.

House of Foxy Grable Dress In Retrospect Magazine

Outfit Details

Dress – 40s Grable Tea Dress – £99 – House of Foxy

Handbag – Original 1940s Cordé

Shoes – Donna in Pink – Hotter

If you’re looking for the very best in reproduction vintage, then be sure to check out the House of Foxy website. They have lots of beautiful dresses and separates which are very authentic in appearance and are inspired by the 1920s to 60s.

Ooops, I accidentally had a week off blogging. Mostly because I was busy planning me and Rob’s 30th birthday party and just generally being very busy with life! Sometimes it’s nice to have a little break.

Whitworths Baking Products
Todays post is all about a fab blogger event I went to a few weeks ago. As you all know I love a bit of baking and I always love to try new recipes. When Whitworths invited me to a baking masterclass to try their new product range I jumped at the chance. The best bit was that the masterclass was being hosted by Edd Kimber who won the Great British Bake Off a few years ago and also writes the fabulous blog The Boy Who Bakes.

Edd Kimber Baking Masterclass
The idea of the masterclass was to try an alternative to the classic Christmas pudding. So we were taught to make a Christmas inspired sticky toffee pudding. It was fantastic trying all the products and the recipe was really fun and easy to follow. As you’ll see at the end of the post, not everyone went to plan for me!

Whitworths Baking Ingredients
The recipe has loads of ingredients, many of which can be found in the Whitworths range…

Ingredients

225g Whitworths dates

200ml water

100ml rum

75g unsalted butter

175g light brown sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp honey

2 large eggs

200g self raising flour

1½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp mixed spice

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

50g Whitworths apricots

50g Whitworths sultanas

50g Whitworths crystallised ginger, roughly chopped

Whitworths Chopped Toasted Nuts
50g unsalted butter (for the sauce)

100g light brown sugar (for the sauce)

¼ tsp flaked sea salt (for the sauce)

100ml double cream (for the sauce)

150g Whitworths toasted mixed nuts (for the praline)

175g caster sugar (for the praline)

Whitworths Chopped Dates

How to make

1) Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan) and lightly grease 10 dariole moulds.

2) For the butterscotch sauce, place the butter, sugar and salt into a medium saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted and smooth.

3) Allow to bubble away for a few minutes before adding the cream, stirring to make a smooth sauce. Set aside whilst you make the puddings.

Brandy and Dates
4) To make the puddings, place the dates, water and rum into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer and cook until a thick date paste has formed. Scrape the paste into a bowl and set aside for the moment.

Sugar, Butter and Honey
5) Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and honey into a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and creamy.

6) Add the eggs one at a time beating until combined before adding the next.

Flour
7) In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and spices.

8) Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on a slow speed until they just combine.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Mix
9) Add the date puree and the dried fruit and mix until smooth and combined.

Sticky Toffee Puddings
10) Divide the batter evenly between the prepared moulds and place onto a parchment lined baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the pudding springs back to touch. Remove from the oven and turn onto plates immediately.

11) To make the praline, place the sugar into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar has melted and caramelised, turning a deep brown

12) Add the nuts and stir together until evenly coated in the caramel.

13) Tip out onto a parchment lined baking tray and use a spatula to press into a thin layer. Set aside until cool.

Edd Kimber Praline
14) Once cool break into pieces.

15) Serve the puddings whilst still hot with the caramel and pieces of the praline.

Now if you’ve paid attention up until this point you will have the perfect delicious puddings. If like me you get distracted and make a mistake and add way to much baking soda, then yours will look something like this…

Stocky Toffee Pudding fail
I am so disappointed in myself, as baking is my thing! But I’ll definitely give them another try when I’m on my own at home and hopefully they will come out much better!

I really enjoyed using all the fantastic Whitworths products, they all come in foil lined packages which are resealable and totally practical for quick baking. I’m looking forward to trying the rest of the range. Find loads more great recipes on the Whitworths website.

A couple of days ago I shared a couple of my favourite bath gifts from Boots and today I have 3 make-up gifts to suit different tastes. Personally I don’t think you can go wrong with palettes, they give the receiver lots of choice and they last  along time.

Boots No 7 Mini Eye Shadow Palette
My first gift is a lovely eye shadow palette from No7. The palette include lots of lovely grown up shades with some very pretty glitters for the festive season. I love the darker purple and grey shades.

Boots No7 Palette
This would make a great little gifts for a mum or auntie. I love that it comes with a lovely soft brush rather than the usual applicators, which no ever uses.

No 7 Christmas Palette
The packaging is really beautiful and as with all No7 products, the overall quality is fantastic.

You can buy the No 7 Mini Eye Shadow Palette on the Boots website for £10. It is also included in the 3 for 2 deal. 

Smashbox Christmas Gift Set
My next make-up gift is a great selection of make-up essential from Smashbox. The set includes a primer, eye shadow trio, mascara and lip gloss. It’s the perfect gift for make-up lovers and beginners alike.

Smashbox Gift Set
The set contains lovely neutral tones to suit all tastes, this would be a great gift for a sister or female friend. The set includes some of Smashbox’s best selling products.

Smash Box Christmas Gift
You can buy the Smashbox gift set for £23 from the Boots website. 

Boots 17 Christmas Gift Set
For younger make-up fans this cute make-up bag from Seventeen contains two lovely treats that would be perfect for teenage friends and relatives.

Boot Seventeen Make-up Gift Set
The set comes with an eye palette and a lip crayon in cute vibrant colours. I love the dramatic purple eye shadow as well as the more subtle nude shades.

Boots Seventeen Nude Eyes Palette
I like that the palette comes with simple instructions to recreate the nude look.

You can buy the Seventeen cosmetic clutch kit for £14 from Boots. The set is included in the 3 for 2 offer. 

Find the full range of christmas gifts on the Boots website.