Monday, 31 August 2015

Style: Shearling Gilet with ELVI.

It's bank holiday Monday, so it's no surprise that it is chucking it down. It's basically the law. So, what better time for me to be looking at transitional outwear? I've got an absolute treat today from ELVI, who, I must admit are one of my favourite brands for great quality, stylish outerwear (in fact for most garments, but I digress). 

This shearling gilet is really something special, it's great for chucking on with jeans and instantly lifting an outfit. Wear over light layers while it's still pretty mild, then over jumpers and with chunky boots for the winter. 

The fluffy inner is super soft and warm, and it's a great length. It has zip pockets and a waterfall style collar which adds a bit of drama and showcases that fluffy lining. I'm wearing the 22 and found it true to size. I'm also assured by my driving friends that this is great for wearing in the car as it's not too bulky and restrictive but keeps you warm! 

It's just another triumph in my ever growing collection of ELVI, I've also done a round up of all their fab outwear over on The Curve Fashion Festival blog where I work as the brand blogger. And if you've not checked out the event, you should, it's going to be amazing! 

**This item was sent to me for the purposes of review. All opinions and words are my own**

Kids: Soft Toy Wishlist with House of Fraser.

Last month I brought you a toy wish list with House of Fraser in anticipation of the kids holidays, today I'm talking all things cuddly and quite apt actually because Pops is poorly today and nothing brings comfort like a cuddly toy, well apart from the cuddles of a loved one possibly, but soft toys are a pretty close second! 

1. Jacks Doodle Buddy - I love the interactive element of this, Poppy loves designing toys and clothes and this makes that a reality! 
2. Baby Elegance Stacker  - This is a great little educational toy for babies, soft to the touch but great for building hand/eye coordination. 
3. Hamleys Lion Soft Toy - Well no explanation is needed really, it's just ruddy cute! 
4. Polo Ralph Lauren Babys Plus Toy - I love this, it's got a real nautical feel about perfect for baby's nursery. 
5. Something Special Mr Tumble Talking Soft Toy - This is such a cute take on this popular kids TV character, and is fully interactive. 
6. Hamleys Lamb Hand Puppet - This last one is a bit self-indulgent, but as a kid my dad would do little puppet shows for me that would have me in absolute stitches, this little lamb just so sweet! 

I hope I've given you some inspiration if you have a new member of the family arriving soon, or a birthday coming up! Or if you're super organised you might even be getting some Christmas presents in! 

**This post was created in association with House of Fraser, all choices and words are my own**

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Style: Marisota 'Shapeology' Fashion Week.

Hey guys, I hope you're well? I promised I'd soon be back in full fashion flow and what better way to get started than with a fashion challenge! 

I'm really excited to be taking part in the Marisota Shapeology Fashion Week. It's a great campaign involving loads of bloggers of all different shapes and sizes showing you how trends can be translated for every body and every occasion. 

I was assigned the 'Brands' brief with a look from the AVA range designed by stylist Mark Heyes. I was sent this gorgeous cloud print dress which is available in sizes 10-32 and these stunning caged shoes by Sole Diva which are available in an E and EEE fitting. 

The dress is a lightweight fabric with lots of stretch. I'm wearing the 24 which skims the body nicely. I think I could have worn my usual 22, but as always, I'd rather go a bit bigger than have a garment that's too clingy. I love this pattern, the mix of colours is quite unusual which I really like and the length is perfect on me (I'm 5'7"). 

I have to say, I am so in love with these shoes, they are just gorgeous. I admit when I saw them on the website, I wasn't too sure, but when they arrived and I tried them on I was instantly enamoured. The heel is high enough that you feel dressy and sexy, but not too high that you can't walk. I love the caged look and feel a little bit Kim K in them haha! 

Styling-wise, I added my favourite chunky necklace, clutch bag and chic camel coat. This is the kind of outfit that would be great for an autumnal wedding or christening or a date night with drinks on the roof top bar!  Swap out the shoes for courts, lose the necklace and coat and add in a black blazer and you've got a gorgeous workwear outfit. It's such a versatile piece! 

Shop the Look: Dress - AVA at Marisota// Shoes - Marisota// Coat - ELVI// Bag (similar) - Marisota  

Head over to the Marisota YouTube channel to watch all the #MSFW coverage with expert videos from stylist Mark Heyes, catwalks and more! 

**These items were sent to me for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own**

Friday, 28 August 2015

Travel: Upper Barn with Sykes Cottages.

Six weeks is a long time to fill with a very active and lively five year old. I think Poppy inherited my wanderlust gene because she lives for travelling and getting out and about, so when we were lucky enough to get away this summer she was over the moon! 

We booked in for a four night break at Upper Barn with Sykes Cottages. Before we set off, I contacted the owner of the cottage as requested, who issued me with a key code for a key safe on site. Tina was really helpful and gave us some contact details for her and her dad, but apart from that we were never bothered and were left to settle in and enjoy the rest of our holiday on our own which I really liked. 

The cottage itself is located in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire. We left Lincolnshire around 9.30am and was there in under two hours, as it wasn't quite time to check in, we carried on through Mytholmroyd to Todmorden which is where my husband was brought up. It was really nice for him to have a look at his old stomping ground and whilst there, we grabbed some lunch in a cute little cafe. 

After lunch we headed back to Mytholmroyd, we were able to find the cottage with ease, and although it was set back from the town itself, there was no difficulty in getting there. Set within a small collection of other dwellings, Upper Barn is connected to, you've got it, Lower Barn! haha! 

Upper Barn... and the Lavender <3

The first thing that struck me was the surrounding scenery which was breath taking, everywhere you looked the views were stunning. Once we'd got the key we took our first look around our home for the next few days. 

We were greeted by chocs and wine, well, I was sold already! But seriously, as we walked in, the cottage was spacious, airy and contemporary, yet it was everything you'd expect from a country cottage, homely and cosy with country style soft furnishings and my particular favourite, fresh flowers in every room. 

The ground floor is open plan and spacious and every room was well appointed. The sofas and beds were all very comfortable and immaculate in condition and the kitchen was well equipped. Over the years I've stayed in a lot of cottages and lodges with my parents and then with Michael and Poppy and I have seen some great examples and some really not so great, I'm happy to say, Upper Barn is one of the nicest places I have ever had the pleasure of staying in. 

The cottage was immaculately clean, the master bedroom has an en-suite, there is a family bathroom on the first floor and a downstairs loo too, so it's great for all members of the family. We went with my folks who are in their early 60s, then Michael and I in our 30s and Pops is five, the stairs weren't too steep and everywhere was easily accessible, even for little legs and creaky old ones (sorry mum and dad haha). I wouldn't however recommend the cottage for a wheelchair user, although spacious, with the living accommodation and sleeping accommodation all on different levels, it would just prove too tricky to negotiate I think.

The area itself is great, it's a 20 minute car journey from Halifax, which has a great indoor market packed full of amazing bakers, butchers, and deli stalls. We visited Eureka! with Poppy, it's a little pricey, but there was so much to do, we spent the whole day there. Every aspect of it is interactive and geared completely towards the kids, it was so much fun! 

We also visited nearby Hebden Bridge, a pretty little town full of cafes and quirky boutiques. Great for an afternoon mooch around. There are swimming pools in near by Halifax, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden, we visited the latter two whilst there, both of which were clean and easy to find. 

Sadly the weather wasn't amazing but we made the most of it, and it gave us the perfect opportunity to spend some time relaxing in the cottage itself. And with views like this, and an interior so cosy and comfortable, why wouldn't you? 

** This post was written in collaboration with Sykes Cottages.  All opinions and words are 100% mine and honest**

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

OOTD: Stripes and Spots by the Beach.

Hello! Me, him and the babba went to the beach today to catch up with one of my oldest friends, his lady and their two boys. It was so lovely to catch up with my Danny, he lives over in Yorkshire now, so we don't get to see much of each other. 

Anyway, onto the clothes... I picked up this stripy dress in the ASOS sale, it's just simple tee-shirt dress, bags of room, easy to wear. I know I'm just going to be able to chuck this on whenever I need something comfy. 

I'm wearing it with my ASOS maxi cardi, Monki Bag and beaten up old Converse. 

Shop the Look: Stripe Dress - ASOS// Maxi Cardi (Grey Version) - ASOS// Bag (Similar)- Monki// Shoes - Converse

I'm looking forward to September and truly getting back into the swing of things. I know I'll have a lot more outfit posts for you all, and hopefully some more travel and foodie bits too! 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Food: Blogger Bake Off with Kaleidoscope.

The Great British Bake Off is in full swing on our screens again and it seems like everyone is getting their bake on! I was contacted by the lovely guys at Kaleidoscope to see if I'd like to get involved in their #BloggerBakeOff challenge, erm heck yes! 

I was sent a selection of bakeware and utensils from the Katie Alice range to try out and come up with a summer inspired recipe. 

When I think of summer, I think of fresh zingy ingredients. I haven't got much of a sweet tooth so I went with a savoury bake and Barnes family fave, my yummy feta and summer vegetable tortilla. 

Now, in my best Delia Voice: To make this delicious dish you will need the following:

Feta and Summer Vegetable Tortilla

5 Eggs
1 Small Onion
1/2 Courgette
80g Feta Cheese
Small Cup of Frozen Peas
Sprig of Fresh Mint


Pre-Heat the oven to gas mark 6. 

Finely chop the courgette and onion and sauté in a frying pan until translucent and add to a baking dish. 

Crumble the feta, and add the frozen peas to the dish too. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the eggs and add to the baking dish. 

Finely chop the mint and carefully stir the whole mixture.

Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and set in the middle. In the meantime, treat yourself to a nice brew...


Slice yourself a nice chunk and serve with a big side salad and a nice glass of something fizzy!