Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Birdy Baby: More Vintage Dress Shopping

I bought this dress when I was sitting at my desk. Lindy Bop like to send me tantalising emails with all their new ranges, new styles, and prints enclosed. It usually results in me buying something, painfully I always buy something and then I hide the dress when it arrives to make myself feel less guilty about the fact I've bought it.

Tell me I'm not the only person who is completely at the mercy of shopping emails! 
This dress caught my eye as I have the skirt in the same print, little birds against a blue background. It's the Ophelia dress, on a side note I actually tried on the Ophelia dress in white as a second dress for my wedding but the fit was completely different to how it is now. 

The dress nips in at the waist, has a ruched contrast bust detailing and a crumb catcher. I paired it with a Hellbunny petticoat and a pug. Fit wise, it is snug but I actually would say it's actually true to size. There isn't very much give so if you're in doubt I would say size up especially if you want a little extra room. 

The best thing about this dress? POCKETS! Seriously can we have more pockets in dresses, it is the best thing ever!

How about you guys, what is your favourite reproduction vintage store?

Much Love 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Flex Yourself: Replay's Hyperflex Giving That 1950's Denim Look

The new range Hyperflex arrived at Replay jeans. The well known denim purveyor is currently boasting that these are the most flexible, moveable denim around, so of course I needed to try that out. 
They're very stretchy and flexible, they seem to be a low rise more hipster-esque denim look, there's also plenty of room to turn them up at the bottom so you can wear them with boots and straw hats and beards. I jest of course. But the guys that I have seen wearing them have worn them with boots which looks fabulous.

For the ladies, wear them with boots if you want, wear them with Dr Martens to get that lovely punk feel, or my favourite roll them up and wear them with 1950s creepers, great look. 
Fit is a low slung skinny jean, if you live in your skinnies these may be good for you as with the stretch you can perhaps size down and get a very close fit.

My main complaint with these is the restricted sizing on the female range, I ended up ordering these for Himself as the ladies just wouldn't fit over my rump. A broader size spectrum I think would go down really well!

So guys flexible jeans, you know where to go!

Much Love

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Autumn Favourites : What I'm Using In The New Season

With the season changing it also means a bit of a shake up in my favourite make up and skincare. I've grabbed some of the pieces I'm using a lot at the moment to talk you through my favourite things.

La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Milk
Designed for dry to very dry skin, a real bonus with heat going on and skin drying out. I like this for a very light make up remover, it won't take off your eye make up but you just swipe it over your face with a pad. 

Bourjois Healthy Mix Gel
Although I've tried countless times to find a foundation range I like better than Bourjois, I just haven't managed it. They're dewy, light and buildable. I think Bourjois are an unbelievably underestimated brand, I have to say they're one of my absolute favourites. I bought my 10 Hour Sleep Effect foundation in bulk when they said they were discontinuing it. 

BDB Billion Dollar Brows
Quite simply it's mascara for your brows, adds colour and hold in one sweep, really handy if you're short on time and need a tint!

Bottega Veneta
My absolute favourite perfume, leather, spice. It smells like a library on a warm day. It is my absolute dream of a scent.

CND Vinylux Topcoat
This is a 7 day topcoat that you can put on top of any polish to increase the life of your polish. It's really hard wearing especially if you're keen on a polish that happens to chip. I use it for pedicures a lot, it's totally perfect for the nails and toes.

Dr Paw Paw Tinted Ultimate Red Balm
Dr Paw Paw has released a tinted balm, hurrah! This is a lovely red that is really bright, it can be used on lips and cheeks, fabulous product which lives in my bag for when I need to freshen up my face or do a quick dewy rosy cheeked look in a hurry. Great little product, also very little goes a long way, you only use the tiniest bit.

MAC Strobe Cream
This one was recommended to me by Bex from Bexberry, along with L'Oreal Lumi Magique. I actually bought both and have finished the L'Oreal. The Lumi Magique is more illuminated with pigment but the MAC Strobe Cream has a real hydrating quality that leaves your skin lovely and soft. One thing I will say is the packaging with the pump dispenser for the L'Oreal is much better than MAC's very rigid tube. Even though I'm barely half way down it, it's tough to squeeze the product out. Sort it out MAC, great product otherwise, though if you're on a budget the Lumi Magique is every bit as good.

Neostrata Illuminating Serum
So the fact is if the word illuminate, glow, dewy or brighten is on a product at all I will buy it. I love anything that gives that lovely fresh look. This little serum from Neostrata is packed with vitamin C and plant extracts to brighten up your complexion. I've been using it at night and in the morning and I find my skin has been clearer any redness has cleared up. I'd been struggling with inflammation on my cheeks for months but since I scaled back on a lot of my products and started using this regularly my cheeks have totally cleared. I'm a really big fan. For my normal to dry skin too heavy a moisturiser can break me out, serums seem to be potent but much lighter. I love this one!

\NYC A Kiss On The Hudson Quad
I love these little tonal quads from NYC, they're great value and all four shades build up to give you a complete eye look from a highlight, block colour, corner crease etc. This one has a fabulous burgundy, peach tones, taupe and a skin highlight. You can do a really fast eye with this and they're only £2.99. Bargain.

NYC Peacock Nail Polish
Love this very fabulous teal like blue green. It's currently on my toes lavished in the vinylux to keep it perfect. A really unusual colour and like all jewel tones is amazing for autumn.

That's all from me folks, I hope you'll tell me what products you're using in the new season and let me know if you try any of these!

Much Love

Monday, 13 October 2014

Vintage Florals: Wiggle Dresses From FD Avenue

Recently the fabulous folks at FD Avenue sent me this rather epic floral wiggle dress to try out for the blog. Now my regular readers will know this post has come with some hand wringing because folks, I am in it having my photo taken and y'all know how much I hate having my photo taken. Here I am though, getting over my flippin' self and being in pictures on my blog (shock horror) so be kind. 

The wiggle dress is not something I've ever really worn, and I love them I've just been a bit self conscious and not wanted to wear tight clothes. As above though I decided that I should at least try, so when I spotted this floral print bodycon dress I thought the vintage florals were so pretty I couldn't resist. So I tried it on and it is so stretchy and fabulous almost like scuba wetsuit material. What is excellent is that it doesn't cling to everything, it sort of skims and hugs rather than shows every lump or bump.

I love the whole range, they have a massive selection of really vintage looking floral bodycons I fully intend to pick up another couple. Don't be worried about sizing either as this dress goes up to a 26 and it is stretchy. One thing I will say, is if in doubt size up and give yourself a little extra room.

There is a split at the back which I found to be a little high, so I ended up sewing the top and making it much smaller, this was just because when I went up stairs it became a little indecent, so for the greater good I got out my sewing kit. 

That's all from me folks, I'm off to go eye up some more wiggle dresses as after all, I'm getting over my aversion to them!

Much Love

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

All That Glitters: Argento Launch Their Redesigned Flagship Store

Argento is a store that all Belfast jewelry lovers know. I've bought countless pieces from them, from statement necklaces to Pandora charms, they've become one of my key gift buying venues. When I was asked to come along and check out their brand new redesigned store on Royal Avenue, I was really keen to see what they had done with the now large space.

Cosmopolitan cocktails, macaroons and fashion were the order of the night. The guests perused the new display cases checking out all the merchandise, from Michael Kors to Pandora. The wall of statement necklaces is a really fabulous addition, allowing you to see exactly what is going to be eyecatching and giving you a real sense of what a piece will look like when worn.

It was a busy night, with the guests enjoying the store's hospitality, mingling with other fashion lovers.

The Argento range is ever increasing, one of my favourite pieces were these gorgeous little bracelvets with mantras emblazoned on them, all very motivational. A whole stack would be stunning. I was also a very big fan of the Dirty Ruby collection, a quirky vintage range which seems to derive some of its style from steampunk and vintage chintz. I, of course, love it.

I grabbed a quick picture with fellow bloggers, That Belfast Girl and Silver Brogues who were also there on the night.

The face of the night channeling 1950's glam :

Base-MAC Strobe Cream
Foundation: Bourjois 10 hour Sleep Effect
Bronzer: Nars Super Orgasm
Liner: Stilla Liquid Waterproof
Mascara: YouUnique 3d Lash Fibre
Lips: OCC LipTar in Vintage

The lovely folks from Argento gifted us with a little piece of jewelry of our choosing. I had to pick this heart shaped steam-punk pocket-watch style necklace. I loved the vintage style of it, it's part of the Dirty Ruby collection and totally channels my Alice in Wonderland love, I actually have another piece long Alice in Wonderland necklace from the range which I adore.

Pop into the Argento store and have a look around!

Much Love

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Calling Dr Love: Dr Martens Opens in Belfast's Cornmarket

Wall art in Dr Martens store by Visual Waste

You only have to say Dr Martens to instantly have a mass of references to rich historical punk culture. Anarchy in the UK, skinheads, safety pins, Sex Pistols, youth culture are all evoked by the iconic sole and yellow stitching. 

As a vintage loving blogger I've been aware of the brand for a long time, I had my own pair of shoes when I was about 12, but never quite got past the initial breaking in point. That's the thing, Dr Martens are an investment, they're an evolving narrative on your feet. They have to be nurtured like a sourdough starter when you first get them, broken in, after all no pain no gain. The shoes will change, the leather will mold to you, the soles will start to bear the imprints of your steps and they will last for years. Bearing in mind how many I have seen in vintage stores, I'm lead to believe, like tortoises they might live for 100 years.

An actual (shock horror ) picture of me! I'm trying to get over my camera aversion!
Madden dress from Hellbunny

I was invited to the opening of the brand spanking new Dr Martens store in Belfast's Corn Market. The brand Dr Martens and Belfast do seem like a natural fit, both with origins in industry, manual work and of course Belfast's massive youth population. It was great to see the brand in an arena that was synergistic for it. 

Classic and new styles, studded bags, brogues from A/W 14 collection

The store opening was a fantastic event, gorgeous food by Love and Death Inc, little cups of fish and chips, burgers, ribs, had I a couple of extra hands I would have tackled them all. Farmageddon took charge of the beers with their own brew, which like the boots in question had a fabulous kick.

One of the things visitors to the store may be previously unaware of is the range of items Dr Martens have.

The tartan punk aesthetic is still strong, embroidered boots, my favourite saddle bag and the introductory chat at Dr Martens 

There is a considerable amount of clothes interspersed in store with the classic and contemporary boots and shoes. Dresses, bomber jackets, shirts and bags are all represented to create a really strong aesthetic for the brand. The launch was really in tune with Belfast culture, the wall design which runs up two floors, was done by Visual Waste, with punk rock legend Terri Hooley in pride of place.

Terri Hooley with Claire from French for Cupcake and the outside of the new Dr Martens store

Terri Hooley is a Belfast legend of the music scene, for those of you who are unaware of him, he is a punk legend. He ran the record store and label Good Vibrations which is also the name of the 2012 film about him. So it was quite a big deal for me and many others to be standing in the store which oozed punk vibrancy sipping on a beer and watching Terri Hooley play The Undertones' Teenage Kicks as part of his DJ set. Terri's face is also emblazoned on a fabulous pair of 1490 original boots which are in a glass case at the cash desk for anyone who wishes to get some punk boots.

I was asked to select a pair of Dr Martens and decided to style them. I wasn't sure what to go for, should I go for the brogue style, or the heeled Mary-Janes or go back to basics? In the end I went about as classic as possible, with the black 1460 8 eyelet boots. I wanted to style them with my usual tea-dress, and enjoy the full impact of the cultural statement the boots make. I do think they add a grunge element to pretty dresses and I love that.

Molly of course photobombs very ably, she's probably just so shocked that I'm actually in a picture. 

Dr Martens launch with Terri Hooley on the decks, the fabulous Beano boots and my outfit for the night. Pink tights and skulls were my nod to Vivienne Westwood's version of punk.

Dr Martens have launched a campaign asking all their wearers to tell them what they stand for. You can join in their #STANDFORSOMETHING campaign by taking a picture of you in your DMs and telling us what you stand for.

On the night of the launch the question was asked 'what does Belfast stand for?' The best answer was DEFIANCE, this was then added to the mural on the walls of the store.

In writing about the launch I had to think about what I stood for, I narrowed it down to three things:

Tell me what you stand for on twitter if you aren't all collapsed in shock that I've actually appeared in pictures!

Much Love

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Nancy's Notes: The Basic Chocolate Cake For Mrs James Nichols

I'm back with another of Nancy's Notes. For those of you who don't know what exactly the Nancy's Notes articles are about, let me illuminate you. I have been investigating my great, great aunt's recipe book filled with recipes from the 1930s, hand written and clipped.                                                                                                                                                                 Every week I try to bring you a new one with a little of the history behind it. For a more in depth breakdown, check out my post on the articles here. You can also catch up on our other recipes for Crisp Oatmeal Cookies, and Agnes May Dalrymple's Date and Walnut Loaf by clicking on the links.

This time I decided to use them to make something rather special, a birthday cake to be exact. I was perusing Nancy's recipe book and I found this rather fantastic clipping, I decided this was going to be the basis for Himself's cake and also this post. 

Mrs James Nichols wrote a letter to her friendly newspaper baker about difficulties she was having with a rather straightforward recipe.

I also wanted to add this rather fabulous little cutting from 1937 which I found on the opposing page, a list of telephone etiquette, isn't it fantastic!

Q. I am baffled for a very ordinary recipe- a moist chocolate cake, one that isn't dry or crumbly.
Naperville Ill. Mrs James Nichols

A. The reason cakes dry out and become crumbly when baking is that the dough was beaten too much, so take it easy when making.
Chocolate Layer Cake- Sift enough pastry flour for 2 cups then sift it again into a mixing bowl with 1/2 generous teaspoon of salt. In the top of a double boiler melt one square of bitter dark chocolate. Cream 1/2 of butter until light and fluffy, gradually add 1 1/2 cups of fine granulated sugar, creaming well after each addition. Add too whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
To the butter, egg mixture add the flour gradually and alternately with 3/4 cup of buttermilk working quickly to blend the whole well, and begin and end with flour. 
Stir in the melted chocolate, add one teaspoon of soda, diluted in one tablespoon good white vinegar and one teaspoon vanilla extract.

Mix well but do not overmix, pour the mixture into two buttered layer pans.
Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees) for 25-30 minutes then put the layers together and fill them with your favourite filling. 

I made a double batch, and carved the cakes to make them nice and level. As we were having a bowling party I thought some bowling themed cake decorations would be spot on! Things were going to be themed by The Big Lebowski, so it made perfect sense for Himself's cake to be White Russian flavoured. I'm going to try and remember my recipe for it as I tend to just make it by eye!

White Russian Frosting
220g Butter
1kg icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
80ml double cream
2 tbsp fine ground coffee
1 shot of vodka
1 shot Tia Maria
Add alcohol to taste


Whip frosting vigorously and use it to crumb coat the cake. Save excess for after cake has been refrigerated.
Coat cake with remaining decorative frosting, save enough for a little pipe work on the base and top.
I added some decorations, made some extra cake pops and decorated them to look like bowling balls. I used the same batter as the cake so don't be afraid to get versatile!

When cut, your cake should look like this! Don't you love a massive cake?

It was so tasty! I have to say, everyone seemed to really like it which is always a positive. There wasn't very much left by the time we took it home. Himself wolfed that up with a cuppa.

Invest in a palette knife and you'll get a nice smooth finish
Don't underestimate the ease of cutters, the fondant work is so easy with them
Refrigerate for 24 hours when baked and for a further 12 if you can after the crumb coat.

Thats all from me folks. Give it a try

Much Love

Monday, 22 September 2014

Hi Ho Happy Skin: La Roche-Posay Arrives At Gordon's Chemist

Skin protection is a big deal, a very big deal. We all want our skin to look fantastic regardless of what age we are. I've been a fan of SPF for a long time now but I have been really remiss about it, mainly because I find when I wear SPF which isn't already in products I end up so white. That's what puts so many of you guys off I know, it's that sticky white SPF which shows up no matter how much make up you put over it. Bad times.

Well folks worry no more.

La Roche-Posay, brand beloved by dermatologists has landed in Gordon's Chemists and it is actually time to rejoice. What I like about La Roche-Posay is the fact it's recommended by dermatologists all over the world, they're known for their amazing sun protection but also for their treatment products, notables in the range are the cicaplast and lipikar, I'll be featuring them soon. 

I wanted to show you guys this fab anti shine SPF from La Roche Posay, it's factor 30, but also comes in other factors. The fabulously brilliant thing about it is when we use SPFs the titanium dioxide which leaves that ultra white residue behind is a pain to cover. This has none of that ultra white residue, but rather blends in to a silky finish with no whiteness or stickiness. 

I mix it in with my strobe cream and a little goes a long way, you get a great primer with no horrid residue and your skin stays safe. Hurrah!

Definitely one for you skin angels out there!

Friday, 19 September 2014

What I Wish I'd Known: Inanity's Top Ten Tips For Brides

For brides it's a bit of a minefield out there. Where do you start? What do you do? What do you need to have and most importantly what should you avoid at all costs.

As most of you know, I got married in April, in Las Vegas, so I've done the distance location wedding, I also planned my reception here in Belfast, I've dealt with the stresses and the strains of wedding planning half way around the world and on my doorstep. 

So I decided I would put together my list of the top ten tips for brides that I was glad of, or that I wish I had known. I had read every magazine article, every website telling me this but here is what it all boiled down to.

Inanity's Top Ten Tips For Brides
  1. 1. Hire a professional to do your hair and make up. 
  2. This is number one, and the biggest tip I can give you. I like to think I'm pretty competent with my own make up, and I think most people do, but wedding make up is a completely different beast. Firstly it has to stay on all day and it has to photograph well. Add to that the fact that the pressure and stress of the wedding morning makes even the most steady hand shake. I have never been more pleased to have hired professionals than when I was sitting back getting my hair and make up done with no stress sipping champagne. That's what you want, you do not need the stress of having to fight over a tiny mirror with your bridesmaids. Hire a professional it makes so much difference!
2. Have a closed door policy. 
If you can (it's not always possible) have someone mind the kids in the party for at least the hour before you have to leave. You do need to relax, you need to have a drink of champagne and take a breath, the day goes pretty quickly and you need to be aware of it. You need quiet and peace to get your make up and hair done, you will be spending a lot of time talking to people, A LOT OF TIME. It is good to have a few quiet moments, especially to absorb the gravity of the day, to get into your dress. Have your bridesmaids deal with any young flower girls or ring bearers and give your maid of honour the task of barring your door the hour before.

3. Eat. 
Eat a good breakfast, eat a snack whilst you're getting ready in the morning. I have friends who at their weddings went round their guests' tables during dinner so they could talk to everyone. Consequently they didn't eat much, and the time they thought they'd gain by mingling during dinner, just didn't materialise. This led to my friend Jenny having a panic attack on her hotel's fire escape from feeling faint. EAT. 

4. Ignore over zealous retailers.
When anyone says to you 'your day won't be perfect without it' you can usually completely ignore them. I lost count of the retailers who told me I needed, x, y or personalised soaps for my day to be perfect. You don't. Work out your priorities, don't let others persuade you they are not enough.

5. Do not be afraid of your wedding photographer. 
I know, it's a bit rich coming from me, as I was dreading it but they will help you, they will show you how to stand and make sure you look great.

6. Accept that you will be stressed.
Even when you think you aren't, you are stressed. I knew I was stressed when my entire skin broke out after an HD Brow treatment and by the time I landed in Vegas I had a rash all over my face, which faded as I relaxed through the week. Also two days after the wedding when I flew to Venice Beach I came down with a horrible cold which floored me for three days. It is not unusual to get sick on your honeymoon, I found this out when I came back and many girls told me how they all fell sick on their honeymoon too. Stress folks. Just stress. Look after yourself and delegate as much as possible. 

7. Prepare yourself to talk.
You will repeat yourself all day long, people will want to talk to you every time you turn around so prepare yourself to not get too much time with your new husband on the night. You will want to talk to your guests and most likely will split up to do so. It is a very strange phenomenon and you don't get a lot of time unless you steal it. So be prepared to talk, but also have a few key ways of getting out of conversations if you do need to get away. 

8. Comfort can't be overrated. 
Yes, your dress is beautiful, your hair and make up is stunning but your feet are bleeding and you're hobbling along. I know because my feet did just that, they got skinned to pieces running along the Vegas Strip in my new, fully bejewelled wedding shoes. So as I timidly made my way through The Venetian to our private dining room I felt every bit of that pain. My bridesmaids jumped to my aid and got me plasters but honestly my feet were so beat up there was no putting those heels back on. I walked through the hotel and to the limo in bare feet. Thankfully the hotel is always spotlessly clean but still, my poor feet were in pieces. When we made it back to my hotel room we had a change into my second lighter dress and my bridesmaid Claire saved the day with blister plasters, on went my lace flats and I was ready to dance again. Don't underestimate the value of comfort. Have a pair of back up shoes at your reception if needs be.

9. Try and work out all potential wardrobe malfunctions before the big day.
Ah this one got me. I thought I'd done this, but no, a few blips still made their way in. Firstly my dress which the bridal shop Perfect Day managed to order 4 sizes too big (go figure) had been taken in and restructured as much as humanly possible by my dressmaker but it couldn't pull in anymore. It fit and it looked well but there was a little gapping that I notice in the pictures. I wish my dress had been ordered in the right size so I could avoid that. Secondly, and I only found this out at my Belfast reception when I nearly landed on my face during the first dance; my shoes have little claws. The little claws on the shoes hold the stones in place which is fine, except that my dress had a net/mesh underskirt which...yeah you've guessed it was perfect to catch on the shoes. So when my new husband spun me around like we have always done, mid spin the clwas start catching and holding the skirt, by the end of the spin my dress is completely wrapped around my legs and I can hardly move. It's funny now but at the time I was so freaked out. I ditched my shoes from then on as it was too dangerous. Try and work these things out before hand!

10. Remember it's only a day.
If one person told me then a million did 'YOUR DAY HAS TO BE PERFECT' well folks I'm here to burst that bubble, there's no such thing as perfect, but you will love it regardless. From rain, to sore feet, misplaced place-cards, venues making mistakes, cars being late, bridesmaids falling over...whatever it is, don't stress about it on the day. The little things that you had never even thought about will be the bits of your day that you remember the most. Hell I walked into another wedding in my full wedding dress by accident when I was making my way to my own ceremony! Now it makes me laugh. My favourite bits from my wedding in Vegas were sitting with my new husband in the back of our limo drinking a cold beer by ourselves cruising down the Strip to our dinner. I didn't plan for that but it totally stayed with me, it was our moment to breath out. Likewise my other favourite moments were the small ones, like me and Himself dancing in the bar, or the morning after the wedding all of my friends and family sitting around at breakfast looking at the wedding photos, it was so lovely.

Honestly, it's only a day, I know many of you won't want to hear that but if you keep it in perspective you will enjoy it so much more. The brides I know who have been the most focused on the minutia have found the experience the most stressful, understandably because they have an awful lot to think about. I was actually quite relieved once I had written the last thank you card and it was all finished, it was like breathing out.

Just remember...there's life after weddings.

Much Love


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