Barbecues, ice creams, cider and Dallas Green

I really have had the best Bank Holiday weekend this weekend.  It has been full of lovely things like ice creams, barbecues, car boot sales, friends, family, cider and blackcurrant and pub lunches.  I wish every weekend was like this! I am lucky enough to have taken the three days off in between the two weekends too, so rather than hauling my pub food filled belly and t-shirt suntan into the office I have a busy day planned of EBaying, blogging and designing some postcards for my Mum's vintage website.

From the [01] first photo you will be able to see that I dyed my hair blonde(r) this weekend.  I have always wanted white blonde hair and tried to achieve the effect with lots of full heads of highlights, but this weekend I thought 'stuff it' and bought a box of Live Colour XXL in Platinum and went for it.  I wasn't completely reckless though as I asked my brother's hairdresser girlfriend to put it on for me.  (In return I made her up a little box of goodies including nail varnishes and Lindt choccy bunnies! [02]).  It has come out great, although there is still a little bit of yellow in it - I have a big ol' bottle of silver shampoo that should hopefully rid me of this!

I went to a barbecue at my parents' on Saturday and had such a brilliant time.  Their garden is just lovely [03 and 04] and perfect for lolling in a deckchair in the sunshine with a white wine.  We had a very yummy barbecue with all manner of amazing foods (prawn skewers, chicken stuffed with mozzarella, and homemade barbecue sauce!) In the morning we went off to a car boot sale and I bought the loveliest enamel jug and antique wooden box - I will save these for another post.  Then Tom and I went off to sit in a beer garden with my brother and his girlfriend all afternoon - cider and blackcurrant tastes better in the sunshine!

Yesterday was another a-mazing day, as Tom and I went off to see City and Colour at the Royal Albert Hall. If you haven't heard of City and Colour, it is the solo project of Dallas Green, who makes lovely, heartfelt, folk-y, acoustic music.  We went up to London on the coach, had lunch in The Diner in Soho and then went on to the Royal Albert Hall [05 and 06].  The gig was absolutely amazing, and definitely one of the best I've ever been to.  Dallas did a lovely cover of Adele's 'Hometown Glory' - I've put a video I took of half of it at the end of the post.

Hope you all have had similarly wonderful weekends and stuffed yourself with Easter eggs and ice cream!



A Rosie guide to dressing for the office

A little while ago I featured an outfit I wore to work and asked whether people might like to see more of my office outfits. Although I would never claim to be an expert in anything fashion related, after working in an office for four years I feel I am somewhere near mastering the art of the office wardrobe.  With this in mind, I wanted to write a short guide to dressing for the office, and I hope those of you who are starting an office job (or any job that requires a smart casual dress code) will find it useful.

Firstly, I have gathered together (through scribbling ideas in my notebook), my top five tips for office dressing.  Some of them could be described as 'the bleedin' obvious', and others came about through bad workwear related experiences that I have now learnt from (see 'don't wear a playsuit and tights under a skirt because you love that floral playsuit but shorts are too short for the office... because you have to get completely undressed to go to the loo').

1.  Buy a pair of heels you feel amazing in, and keep them under your desk for those moments when you need a confidence kick - Tottering your way to work and rolling your ankle in a subway - fail. Having a pair of killer heels under your desk to slip on when you're going to a nerve-racking meeting - win.  (Also effective for the walk of shame round to the IT boys because you spilt tea in your keyboard).

2. High waisted skirts cover a multitude of sins - A plain t-shirt (H&M do a great range of basic t-shirts) or a shirt tucked into a high waisted skirt is one of my most used 'go-to outfits' for work.  I say they cover a multitude of sins because, if you're anything like me and you have a bit of a belly (or if you have a post-lunch meeting and are feeling the bloat!) they are so flattering and make me feel much less body-conscious.

3. Limit the amount of clothes you buy that you CAN'T wear to work - When clothes shopping I have to constantly remind myself that 60-70% of my time is spent in the office, and my wardrobe should reflect roughly the same ratio of work/non-work clothes. As depressing as it is to realise that it's not practical to fill your wardrobe with jeans, varsity jackets and vintage-print t-shirts, it makes better financial sense to buy pieces that can go from casual to work-wear and vice-versa. It shouldn't be too difficult - it's surprising how many dresses/skirts you'd think you could never wear to work can be transformed with some flats and a cardigan.

4. If you're worried something is too short, too revealing or just too darned uncomfortable to wear to work, don't take the risk - I have learned this the hard way too many times; you know the feeling when you have a new item of clothing you love, and you want to wear it all the time, right? Well when you have that moment when you stand in front of the mirror just before you go to work and you think 'Maybe there's a chance I'm showing a little too much cleavage' or 'These shoes rub like hell, but dammit I love them so much!' - trust your gut.  Last week I spent a whole two hour meeting yanking my skirt down because I realised it was a lot shorter when I was sat down than when I was parading in front of the mirror before I left. Don't forget, once you're at work, you're stuck there, and you can't change!

5. Keep a sewing kit in your drawer - After the aforementioned playsuit incident (a.k.a the one where I realised that being in the work loos in your undies feels really weird), I triumphantly exited the toilet before realising that in my haste to get re-dressed I'd pulled one of the buttons off the front of it (the top one, of course), and accidentally rendered my outfit completely inappropriate for work.  I had to use a pin badge to retain my modesty - if you pop a little sewing kit into your desk drawer you won't make the same mistake!

Finally, learn to do the 'is my dress tucked in my tights?' check before you leave the toilets.  It really saves a lot of embarrassment - especially, especially if your route back to your desk goes past the Chief Exec's office.

I have also compiled a little rundown of a very basic work wardrobe. Owning a few basic pieces you can mix and match (as I mentioned before, H&M are great for basic shirts and t-shirts) means you can create loads of great work outfits from just a few pieces.  Once you've found a few outfits you really feel great in, remember them, and pull them out for those days when you need that extra confidence kick.

Please do let me know if you found this useful; it's quite a diversion from my usual blog posts but I wanted to include more variety in my blog on the offchance that you all are tiring of photos of cupcakes and me prattling on about how much I love living in the country!

My Saturday in snaps

Yesterday was a very eventful day indeed.  We started out with a McDonalds brekkie and a trip to Homebase to get more gardening bits and bobs (we seem to be living in Homebase lately!)

We then headed off to an auction rooms in Alresford for the afternoon - we spent about £50 in total but we came away with a fish tank (£9), a box of about 10 cameras (£16), two vintage suitcases (£22) and a graphics tablet and CD burner (£5).  I am not a great lover of fish but Tom has kept tropical fish before and for £9 (including the cabinet and all the pumps and lights) I could hardly say no.  I will take some snaps of the cameras and suitcases for my next post - there were some lovely little cameras in there (including a Lomo Cosmic Symbol) so I'm very pleased with my haul!

After the auction I treated Tom to dinner at an American diner as I won £20 on a scratchcard a couple of days before and thought it would be nice to spend it on something we'd both enjoy.  I had a burger and Tom had a chilli cheese dog! I also had a coke float - yum!

After that long day it was a hot chocolate with marshmallows and an early night! Zzzzzz.

Hope everyone else has been enjoying the warm weather today - we went into the New Forest for a long bike ride and to walk Tom's parents' dog and it was lovely seeing everyone having barbecues and picnics in the forest! Summer is nearly here!

Obviously I will be rounding off the weekend with a bit of 'The Only Way Is Essex' in bed after a nice long bubble bath; is everyone else enjoying this series as much as I am? The Lydia and Arg storyline is breaking my heart though as I really want them to get back together! (I also don't really understand what he has done!) Hopefully Joey Essex will come out with some more corkers tonight too - altogether now - flat and bumpy... tall and reem!

Arg, Lydia and Mr Darcy

Photos of Spring, and pretty things

I have just sat down to blog in my jogging bottoms and slouchy hoodie, and looking at the rain outside it feels a million miles away from the sunshine captured in my photos from the last few days! So, no bike ride tonight - just comfy clothes, a bubble bath and an early night!

Even though I was on call this weekend (part of my job involves me being an out of hours press officer), and thus couldn't go out, I tried to soak up a little bit of the sunshine.  Here is a snap of a dusky Spring evening whilst out on a bike ride, a lovely tree, and Tom washing my car whilst I'm indoors talking to journalists!

When I got home from work yesterday I had a little treat waiting for me in the form of a necklace I'd ordered from Lily's shop, 'Red Brick Lipstick'.  I found it hard to choose just one thing from her lovely little shop, but am so glad I picked this adorable necklace.  It came in a little envelope addressed to me, with a note from Lily about my purchase.  You don't get service like that every day! (Also her packaging has reinforced in my head that I NEED a Dymo labelmaker!)

On Monday night I was in a baking mood so I whipped up some more cupcakes for my workmates.  This time I made Snickers cupcakes - they're really easy to make; just find a recipe for chocolate sponge (and chocolate buttercream) and push a lump of Snickers into the mix before they go into the oven, and decorate the icing with Snickers too of course! Nom!

We went into town last night to take back the shoes and boots from my Aldo online shop fail and I fell a little bit in love with everything in Zara.  I think I'm going to do another post on all the lovely things they have in at the moment but for now here is a little snap of me wearing one of the skirts I bought.  I had an idea that I might do a little outfit special of some of my favourite outfits for the office if anyone would be interested? Also please excuse my weird eyebrow and slight boss-eyedness.  I took it before work.  It was early.


Every night bike rides

I hope everyone has been enjoying the sunshine over the last few days, I certainly have been! If you follow me on Twitter you will have seen me banging on about how much I'm loving my new life in the countryside; I know it's probably a bit repetitive but I just cannot get over how much I'm settling in to living in Christchurch.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I bought a bike and so the other half and I have been going out riding our bikes in the sunshine several evenings this week, as well as getting out in the garden and doing lots of digging and pulling up of trees and bushes.  I want to have the garden all ready for the summer months so I can have barbecues with jugs of Pimm's, fairy lights, paper lanterns, bunting and lots of cute plastic cutlery!  I have requested an invite to Pinterest so I can start pinning inspirational snaps like this one...

One of my favourite evenings this week was Thursday night, when Tom and I rode our bikes into the town centre through the fields near our house, and stopped off at my new favourite little cafe for dinner before riding home.  Cheese and Alfie's is a quirky little cafe in the centre of Christchurch that has a yummy daytime menu full of lots of breakfast-y things and eggs in various forms, and an even yummier nighttime menu - Tom and I both had burgers.  I discovered it last weekend when a friend and I had breakfast there - here is my 'eggs blackstone'...

The interior is awesome, with lots of quirky interior accessories and decals.  There are even books on the back of every chair that you bring in one and swap with!

When Tom and I went on Thursday we picked the window seat - look at our bikes outside making friends through the heart garland! (Mine is the white one).

And here is my burger - nom!

On a final note, you may have seen my last post about my haul from eyeslipsface.  I tried the nail varnish tonight and it is just as good as the other products (and such a bargain at £1.50).  It took a few coats but it dried quickly and hasn't chipped yet! Excuse my sloppy nail varnish in the snap, but here is the colour - mango madness. 

Review post: shopping with eyeslipsface (elf) and Aldo

I have lots to tell you about from this week, but in the interests of keeping my posts organised I wanted to dedicate a post to reviewing some things I've bought over the last couple of weeks. I really like reading review posts as you know what to expect then from ordering from a company, and it helps you make a decision on whether to spend your pennies there too!

I have heard a lot about elf cosmetics on various blogs, and I wanted to try out their products as they always seem to be such good value.  If I'm honest, I'm still learning about which make up items, and which shades, suit me, so all though I'd love to have a make up collection stuffed with MAC and NARS products, I'm reluctant to splash out on the more high end items before I know what I like and what I don't.

As you can see above, I ordered the duo eyeshadow in butter pecan (£1.50), studio makeup mist and set (£3.50), nourishing cuticle pen (£1.50), eyebrow lift and filler (£3.50), all over cover stick (£1.50), blushing bronzing and blending brush (£1.50), eye shadow brush (£1.50) and mango madness nail polish (£1.50).  I paid £2.95 for delivery and it arrived two days after I made my order.

So far I have tried the brushes, eyeshadow, makeup mist and the cover stick.  

Bronzing blending and blushing brush and eyeshadow brush

For £1.50 each I wasn't expecting much from these but I actually found them pretty good.  The eyeshadow brush in particular is a really good size and good for sweeping shadow over the eyelids.  They also do studio brushes for £3.50 or £5.00 if you want better quality ones.  I have my eye on the kabuki brushes next.

Eyeshadow and eyebrow lift and filler

The eyeshadow came in a compact with a lighter shade for the upper eyelid, and a darker shade for lining the lid.  I really liked the effect of using these together, and the shadow seems to last quite well during the day (though it did crease quite quickly after I put it on, which I haven't experienced before).  I have never used any eyebrow products before but I LOVED the lift and filler.  You line underneath your brows with the lift (cream) end of the pencil and then line them in with the filler end.  As someone with quite light blonde eyebrows I really liked the effect it gave and it lasted well.

All over cover stick and make up mist

The all over cover stick I'd imagine would be more of a handbag item for touch ups rather than a regular part of your routine, but to be honest I really disliked it.  Unlike other blemish sticks I've used it was very hard and I didn't think the colour had enough pigment to cover anything. I probably wouldn't use this again.  The make up mist is the elf version of MAC's fix.  I found it refreshing and liked the scent and I think it definitely did improve how long my make up lasted throughout the day, though I wouldn't call it a huge difference. I'll definitely be packing it when I go on holiday though as I think it would be really refreshing on the beach.

All in all I've definitely been really impressed with elf - their service is great and their products are definitely good value.  In particular I will definitely be buying more of their brushes, and I think I'll try out their slightly more expensive studio range next time too.

I usually go into the Aldo shop in Southampton West Quay if I'm making a purchase there, but since I've moved out of the city centre I decided to give their website a try.  They currently have an offer on that if you sign up to their newsletter you get 10% off your order, and they have some real bargains in their clearance section.  I decided to treat myself to a pair of boots (£45 down from £120) and a pair of leather deck shoes/loafers (£50).  ---->
I never buy leather shoes and always pick up cheap flats in Primark so the thought of having some really nice quality shoes that would last really excited me!

Sadly when both of these turned up I was really disappointed.  Both of the loafers had marks on them (one looked like a burn mark?) and just looked... really cheap.  The plastic soles had a star pattern on them that made them look like kids' shoes, and when I asked my other half how expensive they looked he said 'maybe £20?'  Not the look I was going for.  The leather boots also looked really plastick-y and though they say they're leather they look really synthetic (funnily enough the US website says they're synthetic, but the UK one says they're leather?)

I think both pairs will be going back!
Can anyone point me in the direction of some nice quality loafers or deck shoes? I really want a pair that aren't going to fall apart after five minutes!

My week in pictures

When I started writing this I had my blog open in another window, and after coming back to my post halfway through I had a burst of motivation and decided to have a bit of a redesign - what do you think? I owe it all to poweredbypastries.com as I installed one of their blog templates and followed a tutorial to do the header, so I can't claim any of the credit I'm afraid.

Anyway... I can't believe it's Saturday again and I haven't had a chance to blog during the week. This year is flying by so fast! I can't believe how much my life has changed over the last few weeks, and at the same time how much I'm settling into my new lifestyle. I absolutely loved living in the city centre - walking into town to meet friends, not having to get a taxi to go out for dinner, spending lazy afternoons in local beer gardens, but as I take the train to work through the forest in the morning it all just feels so much more me. I bought a new bike this week and last night I came in from work and cooked dinner, and then we went out for a bike ride to watch the sun go down over the quay. Riding back through the smell of woodsmoke in the dusk I just felt so content and happy - and I finished the evening by cracking open a bottle of wine and stuffing myself with M&S snacks. Perfect. 

Talking of new things I have bought this week (the bike, silly!) I had several packages turn up to the house from things I'd ordered on the internet over the last couple of weeks. The first was a box of things from an HeyYoYo's Etsy shop - they sell a whole array of lovely things and I bought lots of bits including cupcake cases and stickers - and, how awesome are the vintage-y looking popcorn bags? I thought they would be great to send out letters and postcards in.

I also bought three books from Amazon - two on mail and mail art (Good Mail Day and Mail Me Art), and one recipe book for our new slow cooker (a special thanks to Tom's Mum and Dad for that brilliant housewarming present!)

I also finally got around to spending the £50 lomography voucher I bought from Groupon last month. After a lot of deliberating I went for a 35mm Twin Lens Reflex Holga. The Twin Lens Reflex means you can hold it down at your waist and look down to see what you're shooting.  I can't wait to take it out for a test run!

I was very excited to come home from work on Thursday and see that my tulips had started to open up, so I took a quick snap - here is one of them in the rain on Thursday, and one of them in the sunshine on Friday! It makes me feel so cheerful to come home and see them, and even though the tulips won't last too long it reminds me that Spring is here!

We haven't done as much on the house this week as I would have liked, but it's difficult to fit in DIY around working. I just don't feel like putting on my painting clothes when I come in after a day at work. Nonetheless I've been trying to add some pretty things to the craft room to make it a bit more homely.  This is my favourite corner at the moment...

Finally, a big thanks to the very lovely Jennie at Sailboat for featuring me in her 'Five blogs I love Friday'; and hello to the new people who have found me recently - I have some ideas for a little giveaway soon to thank you all for being so wonderful so watch this space!