Thursday, 16 April 2015

Things that make me happy

1. Longer days -  More hours of daylight and sunshine means I can get out on my bike after work.

2. Martyn - I can't wait for our Austria road-trip and weekend in York. I love sharing experiences with him. 

3. Wales - I love living and working here, to me there isn't a more beautiful place in the world.

4. Blogger friends - My blogger girl gang rocks, I love spending time with like minded ladies

5. My record collection - Whenever I'm low I just pop a record on and 60s girl bands perk me up. 

6. Baking - I love seeing friends and colleagues faces when I share my latest cake triumph. And eating it.

7. GoT & Mad Men - I'm loving having new episodes of my favourite shows to look forward to.

8. Trains - I do love a good train related day out, trains helped shape modern Britain don't you know?

9. Sookie - I don't see her as much as I should now that I've moved out but she will always be my baby.

10. A good book - I'm currently reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

I’d love it if you link up your own posts about things that make you happy in the comments, or just write out your own 10 happy things below. Let’s all be happy!

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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Outfit post featuring JewelStreet

This week has flown by, all working weeks should be four days long right? I've been in work, hosting a tea party, out shopping, tried out the new Five Guys in Cardiff and during all of those things I've been wearing my new necklace. In fact, I've not taken it of since it arrived a few weeks ago.  It's a pretty heart key pendant in sterling silver by StyleRocks via JewelStreet

The heart measure 6mm wide by 18mm long and comes with a 50cm chain. It's long enough not to keep on getting tucked underneath my top like most of my chains do and the pendant is large enough to stand out against a pattern but isn't too busy. I'm really liking the simple design, it goes with pretty much everything. I've worn this necklace with lower cut tops and wrap over dress and it suits any neckline. 

Me in my Saturday afternoon 'I'm going shopping' getup. 

Top: ASOS Curve - Skirt: New Look - Shoes: Topshop - Necklace: c/o JewelStreet

I'll tell you a little bit more about JewelStreet in case you're new to the site. JewelStreet is a global marketplace of professional jewellery. You can buy designer jewellery direct from independent, quality-assured jewellery designers and brands. Until now, wholesalers and retailers took 65% of the retail price, while the people who actually design and make the jewellery get just 35% but at JewelStreet the designers get what they deserve for their craft and get paid a fair price. They host over 250 brands with designers from all over the word. Prices start at under £20 too so there's something for everyones budget. 

My necklace came from an Australian brand called StyleRocks. They offer free shipping and my necklace arrived inn under three weeks from the other side of the world which is pretty impressive and each piece is made by master craftsmen in Sydney.

JewelStreet is a great site for magpies and I'm sure I'll be browsing their vast collection again when I'm looking for some special jewellery.

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Monday, 6 April 2015

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle Wales

On my recent holiday in West Wales I spent a lot of time exploring the coastline, heading to towns with pretty piers and discovering waterfalls at Tresaith but I also turned my gaze away from the coast and headed inland to visit Cilgerran Castle. 

Cilgerran is located three miles south of Cardigan and stands high over the river Teifi. Cilgerran was first mentioned by name in 1164, when Lord Rhys captured the castle here. It was retaken by William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, in 1204, only to be taken again by the Welsh during Llywelyn the Great's campaigns in 1215. However, eight years later, William's son, another William, regained control, and he probably built the imposing stone castle we see today. 

Cilgerran Castle two towers Wales

Medieval castles were normally designed with a keep or strong tower in the middle but Cilgerran Castle is a little different because it has two round towers which still stand today. We visited out of season so it was free to take a look around the castle and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was pretty special and haunting to wander around and climb the towers with only the sound of the crows to keep us company. 

If you visit after April 1st I think it costs about £3.50 to visit and £10 for a family. If you've driving you can't park outside the castle but there's some parking in the town and you can take a short stroll down to the castle. 

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle

I studied History at university so visiting castles is definitely my thing. I did specialise more in Medieval Church history and modern foreign policy though but nobody can fail to be impressed by a castle.

Cilgerran Castle graffiti

Some 19th Century graffiti 

Cilgerran Castle

If you want to visit Cilgerran or any other castle (plus some chapels and churches) in Wales take a look at the CADW website for all the information you need.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Life Lately - cake, cake and more cake

I haven't really been up to much since returning from my West Wales holiday. I took a bit of a tumble in work, my foot was swollen and blue and now it has cellulitus. Having a blue foot isn't much fun AT ALL and I want it to return to normal so I can go to yoga and get out on my bike now that the days are a bit longer. Silly blue foot stopping my fun.

I have tried to keep busy around the house and have taken a chair in the kitchen to kneel on so I can bake and not be stood up for a long time. (I can stand up again now, the swelling has gone down a lot). I always drool over Claire's fabulous cake creations but she is based in Northern Ireland which is a bit far to go and get a cake if you live in Wales so I tried to make one of my own inspired by hers and this is what I came up with:

Not bad ey? It's a classic sponge cake with blue cream cheese frosting and meringues (meringue recipe here) and edible glitter on top. If you want something amazing you should really hire a professional like Claire. They have all the skills, flair and right equipment. No matter how hard I try my cakes always look a bit shoddy.

I made some lemon curd with all the leftover egg yolks I had after making meringues and slathered that in the middle of a sponge cake, yum! I like the recipe over on Good Food, classic equal quantity recipe and easy to follow. It looks a bit messy but I'm impatient and assembled the cake before it cooled properly so the curd spread everywhere.

The chocolate marble cake is a Mary Berry recipe and looks like something my nan would have made in the 70s. The cake turned out really well and only lasted a couple of days in my house so I'll be adding this one to me repertoire. I like that you don't really need anything fancy to make this cake, just a loaf tin and basic store cupboard ingredients. 

I don't really need any more books because my 'to read' pile is huge but it rarely walk past a bookshop without buying something. I've got a four day weekend over Easter so I'm going to try and relax, get my foot elevated so it will heal up nicely and read these two new books I bought. I don't really know much about either of the books which I prefer before I start reading something. If it's got a lot of hype and I already know half the plot it kind of spoils it for me. I've read a few of Owen's columns before and seen him on Question Time and he speaks a lot of sense so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the book.

I've been trying to hobble about and deliver some leaflets in my local area in time for the General Election. You can see the party I'm a member of and support below. I'm not going to lecture you or try and persuade you to vote for them but please do vote for someone you believe in.
I'm pretty annoyed about zero hour contracts, rising bills for gas and electricity, the Bedroom Tax and tax avoidance so I've been trying to speak to as many people as I can before the election to get them registered to vote and to use it in an informed way.

If you want to vote in the General Election on the 7th of May you only have until the 20th April to make sure you're registered. Head over here if you want to do that. If you're a student please check that you're registered and have your polling card. Voting switched from household to individual voter registration. Previously universities put students living in halls of residence on the electoral roll but you have to sign up individually now.

I've been lucky enough to see two of my favourite acts live recently. I promised my mum I would get her Paloma Faith tickets for Christmas and they sold out so I begged for tickets on twitter for weeks and managed to get some at face value in the end. The stage was beautiful, I loved her band and the arrangement's on the songs and her backing singers had amazing soul voices. Paloma was funny and as playful as always. She puts on a great show and has more hits that you realise so I would highly recommend seeing her if she's touring in your area or at a festival you're going to this summer. 

I had been looking forward to seeing Morrissey for ages, I hadn't seen him since 2008 in the Roundhouse and I wanted to share one of my musical heroes with Martyn. Unfortunately I saw Morrissey on the day I fell over and hurt my foot and spent most of the show sitting down at the back crying because it hurt so badly. Foot pain was temporarily forgotten when he sang Suedehead and Every Day Is Like Sunday.

What have you been up to recently? Send me your blog links if you've shared something I should be reading, listening to or visiting over Easter. Hope you all have a lovely long weekend!

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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Elomi Etta Underwire Bandless Bra Review - House of Fraser

Department store House of Fraser launched their plus size boutique nearly a year ago and they offer a whole host of plus size bras brand and clothing like Evans, Taking Shape, Juna Rose to name a few and I like the idea that you can shop for all your favourite brands on one website. 
You can find hosiery up to a size 32, and D-K cup lingerie and swimwear from brands like Freya and Elomi. I love brands like Dickins and Jones and Biba so knowing that their swimwear has been extended up to a FF cup is great news for me. It's nice to see some trend led pieces available and not just bland basics. 
House of Fraser asked me to browse their plus size collection and pick something to try out and I opted for the Elomi Etta bra. 

The bra features three-part cups with a side frame to give a good shape and lift and there's a handy back J-hook converts straps to racerback. This bra has been very comfortable and the racerback feature is handy to keep me supported if I go to yoga straight from work. The bra was designed for fuller figures on smaller frames which is perfect for me because I don't have very broad shoulders and I often find that straps slip down and I'm constantly pulling them back into place. The bandless design with a curved center gore fits higher tummies or shorter waists.

Sunflower embroidery adds a little detail across the tulle top.

My bra is a 38G and is very comfortable and supportive. Thick straps and a three hook fastening at the back are what I look for in a bra and mean that nothing digs in and I'm held in firmly. I was worried this photo might make some of you spit your tea out but I'm sure you're all used to blogs like Cheryl's and Georgina's so I put it up anyway. If you're going to buy a bra you want to see how it fits, right? 

I've been impressed by the varied collection of plus size items at House of Fraser and I'll be adding it to my list of places to browse on pay day each month. What are your 'must have' lingerie brands?

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