Swap Shop Styling Challenge

A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to the Voucher Codes/Most Wanted Blogger Swap Shop (I blogged about the event here). Amidst cocktails, cupcakes and photo booth fun, we rifled through clothes and swapped unloved items for new clothes that other bloggers had brought along.  I picked up some real treats, but my star find was a black, lace panelled top from H&M.  Not only because is it flippin' lovely, but also because it was the same top I was wearing at the time (not really a coincidence, I wear it all the time) in another colourway, and still had its tag on.  Perfect!

I'd bought the coral colour from H&M a few weeks ago, thinking it was really summer-y and unique.  I adore the black colour, but with the lace-panelling and sheer material I couldn't help feeling it was inching towards 'evening-wear' and being as these days I'm most likely to spend my evenings blogging, drinking tea or catching up on The Valleys, I wanted to find a way to make it a bit more casual and fit with the rest of my wardrobe.

As if my magic, in stepped Most Wanted (the Voucher Codes blog/news site) with their Swap Shop Styling Challenge.  The aim of the challenge was to style the items swapped at the Swap Shop by adding other items from our wardrobes, and with the help of a £35 budget to add some new accessories or clothing to the mix.

Here's my attempt at restyling the black number with some neon brights...

styling challenge numbersbeanie: £6.99 | clutch: £4.93 | decathlon trainers: €22 = £18 = £29.92
top: h&m via swap shop | necklace: ebay £8 | jeans: topshop

I actually spent the remaining £5 on a different neon necklace from eBay but it's coming from China and six weeks later, it hasn't arrived yet, annoying!

What do you think of my styling efforts? All of the restyled outfits from the bloggers involved in the challenge have been posted on the Most Wanted site and you can vote for your favourite on the voting poll at the bottom of the page.  You can also vote for me on Twitter using the hashtag #swapshopstyling and my Twitter name @rosieoutlook).  The person with the most votes gets a £200 Zara voucher, which would be uh-mazing! Thanks to anyone who does give me a vote! :)

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Blowfish Shoes giveaway

I've been a fan of Blowfish shoes for a number of years - I remember buying a pair of their flats as work shoes about four years ago and since then I've always kept an eye on their collections; they're always affordable and yet unique and well-made.  Their S/S13 collection has some amazing neon brights and aztec prints - perfect for holidays and beach trips.

They kindly recently offered to send me a pair and to let me host a giveaway where you can win a pair of your choice from the huge range on their website.  I so wanted to choose something really summer-y but I'm such a sucker for a wedge at the moment that I gave in and chose these black wedge ankle boots.  I like how the thick sole and big eyelets make the boots look really 'utility' - along with skinny jeans a la today's outfit I can imagine them also adding a bit of grunge to a more feminine outfit.

I took these photos before I went on holiday to France, not that I really need to excuse the un-summery outfit I'm wearing as, let's face it, it's not exactly tropical temperatures at the moment is it? It's actually raining outside as I type this, legitimate beanie weather for sure.

hat: [old] | jeans: primark | coat: missguided, similar: £14.99

As I mentioned, Blowfish have also kindly offered to give away a pair of their shoes (of your choice) to one of my lovely readers.  As usual just use the Rafflecopter to enter.  The giveaway is open for 10 days, after which I'll let Rafflecopter do its magic and pick a winner and email the winner and announce it on Twitter.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Three weeks in France

Anyone who's read my blog at any point in the last couple of months will know how ridiculously excited I was to be hopping over to France at the beginning of the month and spending a few weeks with Tom and his parents touring around, eating cheese and drinking wine.  And the good news is that it was just as fun, picturesque and cheese-filled as I anticipated.

We started off with a few days at a gite (French holiday home) near Angers. Whilst here we had picnics of bread, cheese and wine on the patio, visited a Medieval Fortress (Chateau De Fougeres) and had an amazing three-course dinner at a wonderful restaurant.

| chateau de fougeres

| bees in the castle grounds

Our next stop was another gite called Beau Sejour near Bordeaux.  This bed and breakfast has a breathtaking house, grounds and holiday cottages and it was such an amazing place to stay - we didn't want to leave! On arrival we had an amazing terrace dinner with all manner of cold meats, cheese and wine and we got to know the owners, who have become friends with Tom's parents as they've stayed there so many times!  Whilst there we explored Bordeaux, and one of my favourite places (which we visited a few years before), Saint Emilion.  One evening we went to Saint Emilion for a jazz concert at a tiny little bar and got to sample the singer of the jazz band's wine (he owned a vineyard!) I adored Bordeaux too - stunning architecture, little cafés, shops and restaurants.  I could definitely live there, it's such a beautiful city.

| tom and I at Beau Sejour

| outside our gite

| saint emilion

| macaroons from saint emilion

| sampling wine at the cloisters in saint emilion

| bordeaux| church just outside beau sejour
Just outside of Bordeaux there is an 'Emmaus' which was high on my 'to visit' list.  Emmaus is part of a charity that do various work but are most well-known for their huge bric-a-brac shops.  The one we visited was in a huge warehouse and we had so much fun digging through all of the treasures.  This was just the outside section!

| emmaus near bordeaux

Our next stop was the Dordogne, another utterly beautiful area.  Here we visited towns built on rocky outcrops and at the foot of cliffs, went on a boat trip, had a barbecue in a thunderstorm and went kayaking down the Dordogne.

| la roque-gageac

| domme

| bézenac

Our next stop was Sarlat, where we visited markets and had dinner with the family who owned the Chambre D'Hotes (a bed and breakfast where the owners also live and offer a room in their home or on the land where they live).  Tom and I visited the town of La Roche Posay where there is an amazing looking spa (as well as lots of chemists selling La Roche Posay products!)

Our final stop was an overnight stay on the way back to Cherbourg for the ferry in a beautiful old house that was like staying in a museum.  Our final night was another evening meal hosted by the family that lived there and was an absolute hoot, the language barrier not getting in the way of a brilliant evening filled with cider, wine and good food.

Before the ferry Tom and I visited some of the pretty coastal towns on the way back, raided the supermarkets for cider, wine and biscuits and visited several WWII sites such as Arremonches and Omaha Beach.

| scallop shells at port-en-bassin
And now we are home with a fridge full of wine, a mountain of washing and lots of happy memories.  Was an utterly amazing time but also really nice to be home cuddling Bodhi and sleeping in our own bed again.  By the way, a big kudos if you have read all of the way down here, this has been a humongous post! 

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Weekly Bookmarked Wishlist

Here's what I'm currently lusting after.  Well, I'm going to schedule this post for whilst I'm away on holiday (yes, I know, I've become that annoying person that mentions that they're on holiday every five minutes!) so this is what I was lusting after before I went away.  I'm kind of hoping I come back with a bit of my spending money as I really fancy treating myself to that beautiful ring.  And if not, well, my birthday's in August and I plan on dropping a lot of hints to Tom (Tom, if you're reading this, consider this your first hint...)1. Iris bag | Jack Wills | £142. Tea Time dress | Bonne Chance | $48.993.  Sandals | Emma Go at Spartoo shoes | £1144. Wedges | Kurt Geiger | £140  5. Alpha ring | Daisy | £376. Quilted tee | ASOS | £18What are you lusting after this month?

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| this is a scheduled post, I'm currently away on holiday |

Yellow dress

As I'm writing this it's only a few weeks since I got back from Rhodes but now it feels like a distant memory.  As it happens, I'm scheduling this in for whilst I'm away in France so hopefully by the time I get back I'll have enough memories of sunshine, good food and total relaxation to tide me over for the next couple of months.

I posted about this dress back in April and I'd considered it to be a cardigan and tights kind of dress, but when the lovely Laura commented about how nice it would look with bare legs on holiday in Rhodes I had to pack it in my suitcase.  This was the day after I went to take photos of Tom windsurfing and got hideously sunburnt without knowing it as it was so windy.  I really feel the red hue of my skin compliments the pastel yellow, ha!

dress: h&m [instore] | wedges: h&m [old] | watch: daniel wellington*

Hope all is well back in England, by the time you read this I will be back in a few days and will be looking forward to catching up on what you've all been doing whilst I'm away (and giving Bodhi a big squeeze!)

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| this is a scheduled post, I'm away on my holidays! |


Dotty Disco

This is the outift I wore to the Benefit Stay Flawless event a couple of weeks ago.  I've mentioned before on here that for some reason what I love buying and what I love wearing feel like they're two different things at the moment - I naturally gravitate towards pretty dresses but when it comes to pulling together an outfit I'm really loving trousers and tops.  There will always be a place in my heart for dresses but I sometimes get annoyed at having to decide whether to wear tights (or shave and fake tan your legs!), having nipped in waistbands that feel a bit tight after lunch, having to decide whether sleeveless is appropriate for work, and so on.  I guess I am just going through a bit of a lazy stage!

Not that AA Disco Pants are the ultimate in comfort wear! I must admit it does slightly amuse me that I own an item of clothing that I have to lie down in order to do up.  I've only worn them a handful of times - do they stretch a little over time? (I'm hoping so!) I'm also never quite sure what to do with the leg length, they're way too long so I tend to turn them up but I know people don't normally turn up Disco Pants - they should do a petite version for us shortbums!

trousers: american apparel disco pants £74 | blouse: uniqlo £14.90*
necklace: lola pop | shoes: fat face [old]

I was kindly sent this blouse by Uniqlo and it's become a real favourite of mine.  It's perfect with jeans and trousers and lightweight enough to be summer-y.  I love the drop shoulders and open neck.  I'm a huge fan of Uniqlo at the moment (well, always really), I love how affordable they are and yet you don't feel like you're wearing something that I would describe as 'budget fashion'.  Their collaborations are always great too.
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Shoegazing: Top Three

Time for my top three most wanted shoes this month again! As always I've been trawling the Spartoo website and making long lists of my favourite footwear - this post tends to write itself every month as I spend so much time lusting over shoes, despite the fact that every cupboard in my house is bursting at the seams with shoes.  I can never find the pair I'm looking for as they can be in the shoe cupboard in the hall, in one of two wardrobes or on a shoe rack in my bedroom (not to mention under beds, desks and sofas).  It really is getting a bit ridiculous now, it takes me about an extra 15 minutes every morning just to find the pair I decide will go with whatever outfit I'm wearing.

First up is these neon court shoes.  I'm imagining them with skinny jeans, a crisp white shirt, a blazer and a big statement necklace, maybe with a neon clutch too (it's acceptable to build an outfit around a pair of shoes, right?)

court shoes | buffalo | £65.99

I love how minimalist these sandals are - because I have feet and shin tattoos I don't like fussy sandals with lots of straps and detail so these will be perfect for the summer.
sandals | petite mendigote | £83.99

I've rather fallen in love with my current pair of New Balance trainers - I have a blue pair that are really comfortable and look great with jeans and even dresses so I'd love to get another pair.  These red versions would add a pop of colour to a plain outfit.
trainers | new balance |  £59.99
Are you lusting over any shoes at the moment?

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Great British Florist Review

As you probably know by now, if I had my way I'd transform my life into an episode of The Good Life.  I frequently sit with cups of tea absorbing the pages of Country Living and wishing I was surrounded by vegetable plots, flowerbeds and chickens.  I love watching things grow and cutting flowers from the garden and bringing them indoors, and likewise I adore hoofing vegetables out of the ground and throwing them in a stews and soups.  I think it's safe to say we all love the pleasure of having a vase full of fresh flowers on the table and yet did you know that only 10% of the flowers sold in the UK are grown here?

The Great British Florist was launched in 2012 with this in mind -  all their flowers are grown and sown on British Farms; reducing air miles and emissions and meaning flowers stay fresher for longer.  Their own cutting patch on Lower Blakemore Farm in Herefordshire is a haven for bugs, butterflies and birds, meaning that by buying their flowers you're supporting British Farms and British wildlife.  All of these things make me happy.

The Great British Florist business is part of the family enterprise based on the farm, which also hosts Wiggly Wigglers, which sells things for composting, wormeries, bird feeders and a whole host of other garden supplies.  The farm also has crops, animals including cows, pigs and chickens, wildflower meadows, ponds and woodland.  I wonder if they'd let me move in?

The Great British Florist sells posies, bouquets and flower boxes, along with catering for weddings and funerals.  The wedding flowers look just beautiful, they say that their Bridal Bouquet looks "as if you have just gathered your flowers in the most loveliest of English Country Gardens on the way to your big day" - hand-tied with vintage lace or ribbon.  I can't imagine anything more perfect on your wedding day than looking like you've just been gathering flowers in a meadow - they even do a floral headress!

They kindly gave me a gift card to try out their site, and I purchased their Bouquet of the Month*, which cost £40.  At no extra cost you can choose the delivery day and I chose a day a couple of days after ordering and they arrived as promised.  The box looked like it had rather been in the wars and was a bit dented and ripped (the fault of the postal service, not theirs!) but thankfully the flowers inside were pristine.  I put them in a vintage enamel jug from my Mum's website and they just looked breathtaking.

I photographed them in the garden but of course they really have pride of place on our dining table.  They bring such cheer and colour to the room, it's impossible not to smile when you walk in!

Overall I'm thrilled with the flowers and highly recommend the site.  I feel really strongly about supporting independent businesses and British Farmers so this one is a win-win for me.

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Budding at my fingertips

jacket: h&m [old] | necklace: primark [old] | top: boohoo [old]
trousers: celia birtwell legging trousers at uniqlo £12.90* | shoes: dune (bought at tk maxx)

I adored almost everything in the Uniqlo x Celia Birtwell range when it launched in March and I was so disappointed when the blouses sold out on the same day, I love a good Uniqlo blouse! A close second were these star printed 'legging trousers' which are a new item for Uniqlo - almost the material of a chino but with the stretch of leggings, they're perfect for workwear and still comfy enough for lazy days.  I'm definitely going to be stocking up as they're so versatile and easy to throw on.  I also like how the ankle length means I can show off my still relatively new tattoos!

I love printed trousers but I do sometimes struggle with what to wear them with.  I wore these with my coral neon H&M top to the Blogger Swap Shop but that neon top is getting far too much airtime on my blog lately so I thought I'd feature the trousers in a different outfit, this time with 'clashing' stripes.  I almost wore them with my Orla Kiely for Uniqlo blouse but I didn't want to be a walking Uniqlo collaboration!

What would you wear with printed trousers? Have you tried the Uniqlo Legging Trousers/Easy Leggings yet? There are some amazing prints!

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| this is a scheduled post, I'm currently on holiday! |


Five favourites

I always love lists of favourite things and blog posts that feature them so I thought I'd do my own this week - and because putting it together has made me smile there will definitely be more in future.  I feel really passionately about sharing favourite blogs and blog posts as we're a little community in the blogosphere and I think it's really positive to highlight the work we all put in and drive traffic towards awesome little corners of the interweb! Without further ado, here are some recent favourite things of mine.

unexpected packages
fresh flowers
birds feeding in our garden
reading magazines in bed
99s from the ice cream van

img credit: mimithorisson.com

From Gem With Love | Sunny Sweet Pea | Hello Flower | Raspberry Kitsch | Rosie Posie Rosie

I hope you've enjoyed this little post, if you do 'favourites' round-ups please link me to them as I love reading them!

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| this is a scheduled post, I'm currently on holibobs! |