Monday, November 30, 2015

Covet Monday - Focus

If you've seen a number of my weekly outfit roundups you will probably have noticed the nice soft filter I have applied to my photos. Only that it isn't a filter. It'll either be the dust that has settled on the only large-ish mirror in the house or simply the fact that I am taking all pictures with my iPhone6 camera.

Don't get me wrong: mobile phone, or rather, smartphone cameras, have come a long way. Long gone is the 1.3 (?) MP of my iPhone3G. The newer iPhones have 8 MP and can create some seriously good pictures. And the advantage is, of course, that it's so easy: you always have your phone with you, you can instantly use the picture for social media updates and if you want, you can edit them really easily with various apps that are available. I don't really edit but I do use Pic Stitch to combine a number of images into one, especially for the aforementioned outfit pics.

The above mentioned fuzzy-ness mainly manifests itself in low-light situations and I decided it's time for a "proper" camera. I have to add here that I have no idea about cameras but my wishlist contained the following:
  • compact and light
  • decent image quality
  • flip-able screen
  • remote shutter release
  • not too expensive (had no idea, really, but thought no more than £300)

So after doing a bit of googling and chatting to a colleague of mine, who does know cameras, I rather liked the Sony a5000.  Available from £250 and ticking all the right boxes, I was pretty much sold. And then Black Friday happened and the Sony a5100 was reduced to £279 (even the white one!), so I pounced!

The little box got delivered this morning and so far I am really impressed: nice size and weight, it just "feels" like quality. Well, that's pretty much all I can say right now as I've not had the chance yet to play. So really, my "covet" this week is more of a "I wish I knew how to use it".

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Shimmy Shimmy

I usually carry my bags with inserts or at least a multitude of pockets and pouches because I like to know exactly what's where. That's also why the hobo shape doesn't feature much in my permanent bag collection. As much as I love the slouchy look, I tend to get fed up with the rummaging - especially if the bags are really big. A good example of that would be the Mulberry Daria Hobo

This Shimmy Hobo though is a much more manageable size. I hadn't really noticed the Shimmy range beforehand. I believe there was a variety of totes (Regular, Large and East West) as well as this Hobo and they came in some really lovely soft and textured leathers. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Winter has truly arrived and last week was freezing. Out come more layers and the odd warm knit...

Sweatshirt: Zara
Skirt: All Saints
Boots: LK Bennett

Top, Cardigan and Skirt: Boden
Boots: LK Bennett

Dress: Jesire
Shirt: Next
Boots: Something Italian
Necklace: Zara

Dress: Reiss
Top worn underneath: H&M
Boots: LK Bennett
Necklace: New Look
Jumper: LaRedoute
Jeans: H&M
Boots: Kurt Geiger

Monday, November 23, 2015

Covet Monday - Easy Sunken Apple Cake

Despite my recent successes in the kitchen I'd maintain that I am pretty rubbish at cooking, baking or general creating edibles. However, the recent glut of apples has forced me to think about what to do with them. 

Because of the aforementioned rubbishness on the homemaking front, I have long given up on what would be my go-to cake: my mum's yeast-cake recipe. Whenever I try that, the base doesn't go nice and fluffy as it does for my mum. It stays flat and dense. I also have no experience at making anything pastry. I therefore needed a recipe avoids the need for yeasty-lightness and any pastry knowledge. My Mama to the rescue: she dug out another one of her faves: a "sunken apple cake". No yeast, just a batter with the apples pushed in afterwards. It didn't turn out perfect but for the first attempt I'm pretty happy.

125g butter
125g sugar
Vanilla essence
3 eggs
250g flour
2 level teaspoons of baking powder
1kg apples
1/2 lemon
1 pinch of cinnamon
extra sugar & shaved almonds for topping (optional - I left them out)

Beat butter with sugar and vanilla essence until it turns light and "foamy". Add one egg at a time still beating. Add the sieved flour and baking powder one spoon at a time. Put batter in greased and floured springform.
Peel apples, halve, core and cut on the surface. Season with the lemon juice, lemon rind and cinnamon. Push into the batter.
Sprinkle with almonds and sugar and bake at 180 degrees C for 50 minutes.

Leave to cool, sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve with whipped cream.

The taste was really lovely but the apples are supposed to be deeper in the cake, I assume I didn't push them in deep enough. One to improve on for next time!

This article was featured in the Independent Fashion Blogger's Links à la Mode on the 3rd of December. Do have a look at the other blog posts below - well worth a read. Being all for no-fuss dressing, I particularlyliked Cubicle Chic's guide on how to dress for the party season.
SPONSOR: Shopbop RED Valentino, Ronny Kobo Dresses, Kenneth Jay Lane Jewelry, Tanya Taylor, Georgia Perry, Luna Skye, Formal Dresses, Turtleneck Sweaters, Mini Backpacks, Men's YUASA

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bayswater Gone Casual

Even though my Alexa and my Ledbury are my most used (and probably loved) Mulberry bags, I have to say that I have a special soft spot for my Bayswater. Such an iconic and instantly recognisable bag, I feel like such a grown up when I carry her. There are two drawbacks though. She is quite heavy and opening and closing her to get to your contents can be a bit of a faff - mainly because your arm will kind of cover the postman's lock. I therefore decided to try the Bayswater Tote, a more lightweight and casual version. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Boots are Back

Coming back from my week in Germany, it really felt like winter has arrived. (Can I just add here that when I told my mum we had landed safely, she told me that she was lying on a sunlounger in her bathing suit as it was still hitting mid 20s in the sun. You try and not be depressed after that!) Anyway, with wet and cold weather all around me in the morning as I wait for the train, I moved into one of my pairs pf knee-high boots. You'll soon be sick of the sight of them...

Shirt: LaRedoute
Skirt: Topshop
Boots: LK Bennett
Necklace: Zara

Top: Topshop
Skirt: Reiss
Boots: LK Bennett
Belt: Warehouse
Necklace: Marni for H&M

Dress: Mexx
Boots: LK Bennett

Monday, November 16, 2015

Covet - Peace and Pens

I wrote this very short post last week and now feel really silly publishing something this frivolous after the past days' events in Baghdad, Paris and Kenya. How can I covet a pen when it is so irrelevant? When there are people dying and suffering all over the world and we have no idea how to put a stop to it? On Friday morning I read a horrendous article on the conditions of refugee camps in Lesbos, donated money and shared the piece on my Facebook timeline. On Friday evening more pain and suffering had been added.

I don't know what to do to make the threat go away. I have no solution of how to take all the suffering away. Only the desire that each and every one of us thinks about what we can do. Be kind. Compassionate. Donate. Share. Don't push those away that need our help. Other than that we'll just have to continue to live our lives. Even if that means just lusting over a shiny pen...

I have tried to to become too obsessed with my planner stuff and generally only buy items I know I actually need but one can never have too many pens, right?!

So, how pretty is this pen?! 

PenGems don't just have a pretty outer but you can customise them by adding a high quality refill - also available on their website.

I think I am going to have to just need that pen...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gone Ringless: My New Planner

So after pondering over going ringless for ages, I finally moved out of my Filofax. I decided Field Note size inserts would be worth a try and started out with a lovely handmade "Raydori" (which you can order here) and moved into a Naked Cow Cover shortly after that, as I just needed space for more inserts.

Have a look at my current setup - I really like the size and the flexibility this system is giving me. And as DIYFish inserts come in this size for you to print as well, it was an easy transition.

Apologies for the abrupt end: that was my phone running out of space.
  • The inserts are from DIYFish 
  • The plastic insert is a Passport cover I bought at a German Müller
  • The homemade Kraft style insert was made following instructions from Ray's blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Casual Week

So I was on holiday last week, visiting my parents in Germany. That meant no work and instead lots of time spent with little M - usually crawling around the floor looking for Lego pieces. Therefore no skirts or dresses and lots of jeans. Oh, and a weird mirror.

Top: Earl Jeans
Cardigan: H&M
Jeans: Next
Trainers: Converse

Top: Mango
Jeans: H&M
Trainers: Converse

Top: LaRedoute
Jeans: H&M
Trainers: Converse
Bag: Mulberry

Top: H&M
Jeans: Next
Trainers: Converse

Monday, November 09, 2015

A Very Special Delivery

I know I seem to be practically married to my Mulberrys but that doesn't mean I won't allow another brand in my closet - at least as a bit "on the side". In August I had discovered and then subsequently backed Strathberry in their Kickstarter campaign and my newly made MC Midi was delivered at the end of October.

Apparently I was remarkably restrained in my unboxing, so if you fancy seeing me carefully unwrap my precious new bag, you can watch it here.

First impressions:

Nicely wrapped and packed. Big box, inside which I find the Strathberry branded box. The bag comes in its own dustbag and I get a couple of envelopes, one which contains some info on leather care and the other one with a small credit card sized card with a 10% discount code for my next order.

Lovely quality. The stitching, the leather, the soft gold hardware, the subtle branding. Everything quietly, yet confidently whispers quality, craftsmanship and understated style.

I'm surprised though to see that two different hides seem to have been used, the grain is slightly different between the main body and the zip pocket on the front. Not really something I'd even have noticed a while ago - goes to show that I am getting a tad to obsessed with this whole handbag stuff.

Smaller than I thought, feels a bit like an Anti-Tardis, as the outside is reasonably big but I can't see myself fitting a huge amount in. Maybe I am just too used to soft-sided bags - this one is certainly very structured.

The outside pocket with the beautifully running zip will be really useful for bits and bobs that I want to access quickly though I won't be able to put anything bulky in there.

When I open the bag, i.e. its top flap, the leather creases and wrinkles. It will be interesting to see whether these wrinkles will settle or affect the design.

The style looks formal but quirky enough to juxtapose with a casual outfit. I probably still prefer the look of the Nano or Mini though those would be prohibitively small.

Width: 34cm (13.5"), Height: 24.5cm (9.5"), Depth: 8.5cm (3.5"), Handle drop: 7cm (2.75")

All in all very happy with my purchase - I am really picking to find fault here - and I shall report back after I've used her a few times. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Cookies And Cream

I don't really do tiny bags. I mean, what's the point in carrying one that doesn't hold at least your essentials? Why not just shove your stuff into your pockets? Sometimes tough, you might prefer something small and elegant or cute, e.g. when you're going to a wedding. As much as I love my Alexa or Ledbury, they would look a bit weird and just too plain big on photographs and I also wouldn't want to have to balance either one of them on my lap in church during the ceremony.

Anyway, sometimes reducing your essentials to the absolute bare minimum is worth it for the sake of being able to carry something cute and pretty

By the way: If you like this Lily but still think she's just a tad too small, have a look at my review for the regular sized one.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

New Skirt And Old Dress

Last week was really not much different than the one before. Cold in the morning means opaque tights and a big coat. Working Monday to Friday means skirts or dresses for most days. I did add a new skirt (remember that covet post?) and dug out a Reiss dress I haven't worn for quite some time...

Dress: Hoss Intropia
Top worn underneath: H&M
Shoes: Clarks

Top: Boden
Skirt: Topshop
Boots: Zara
(I think the necklace was also from Topshop)

Dress: Reiss
Top worn underneath: H&M
Boots: Zara
Necklace: Orelia at Topshop

Monday, November 02, 2015

Covet Monday: Be a Domestic Goddess

If you read my Covet post from a couple of weeks ago, you will know that I am pretty rubbish in the kitchen but that a glut of plums made me take the plunge and try out my hand at jam making. In said post I also mentioned that we did not only harvest plums but also blackberries. I guess, I could have just followed the same recipe and done some blackberry jam but memories of my grandmother's blackberry syrup made me search for a syrup recipe. Really remarkably easy, I managed to not mess it up.

700g blackberries
700g sugar

1. Wash berries, don't worry about the odd stalk left in there
2. Put berries into a saucepan on a low to medium heat. Add sugar. Do NOT stir.
3. After 5 minutes the berries will start to break up. Stir gently.

4. Leave on a medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stir gently every 5 minutes.
5. Put a muslin over a sieve and ladle in the mixture. Leave it to drip into a bowl for 1 hour. Do not squeeze.
6. Fill into sterilized bottles. I stood the bottles in boiling water for 10 minutes after filling.

The syrup is lovely drizzled over icecream or puddings, diluted in water or maybe in a glass of champagne as a Kir style drink.
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