Thursday, 31 January 2013

Four years and a little baby..........

Today is our four year wedding anniversary, and I know everyone says where does the time go – but seriously where does the time go?!! It’s crazy to think that I’ve been married for four years as I still feel as if I'm in my early twenties. I may feel old but at least I have this little cutie pie to show for it - he's our world and we couldn't ask for a better little man, if we're fortunate enough to have another I think we're going to pay big time, as we got off light with this wee guy.

Wee C
Enough of the gushing about my wee man, back to me and the big man, but I'm not going to start gushing about him here (it may be the time but it's not the place) but suffice to say I've been very lucky with him too, he's been a wonderful husband and father and I couldn't ask for any more.

I'm taking this opportunity to show you a few wedding photos. Our wedding day was a great day weather wise considering it was the end of January and whilst it lashed down in the morning it was dry, if a bit windy the rest of the day. My dress is Jim Hjelm, I got in it Kleinfeld Bridal in New York. After seeing it on the website while looking for Bridesmaid dress I scoured the country and beyond for it, I even rung places in France and Spain to see did they stock it. Everyone told me I was mad to want a particular dress without even trying it on, but I knew it was the one. I found the wedding dress choice in Northern Ireland pretty crap back then, everything was boob tube and I really don’t suit boob tube anything as I have very square shoulders and that style of dress only emphasises it. So it had to be something with straps, slightly vintagey looking and preferably a mermaid shape. I wanted a timeless dress that wasn’t a trend at the time so wasn’t going to look really bad in a few years. I took inspiration from my mum’s wedding dress, it was a high necked, long sleeved lace number and it still looks pretty good 33 years later. So that’s why I went for lace, and I just love scalloped lace, so fell in love with the neck line. And of course any excuse for a trip to NYC is welcomed!!

We had a helicopter to take us to the reception in the Galgorm Resort after the actual ceremony, it was great as we got there about 45 minutes before everyone so had a little time to just chill on our own together.

All in all it was a wonderful day, but I think if I had to do it again I would go away somewhere sunny and have it with just close family and friends just, as I think the true meaning of the wedding day gets lost in a frenzy of chair covers, flowers, favours etc. My husband and myself are both pretty shy people so I did struggle a bit with everyone looking at me, we had over 250 guests so it was a bit overwhelming if I’m honest. But we still had a great day and have had four happy years and the best wee man in the world to show for it!!

We're heading back to Lough Eske Castle in Donegal this weekend to celebrate, and the wee man's coming too of course, no show without punch!!

Monday, 28 January 2013

P&P and returns round up and Zara shoe haul

After my recent disasters with online shopping, I had to send both my orders back. One was free and one cost £5.82 second class. Now obviously there’s a vast difference here, so I've decided to do a little round up of P&P in some of the major high street stores, when shopping online to see who comes up the best an worst.

Mango: Standard P&P is £2.95 or free if you spend over £30, returns can be made in store but not to concessions hence my £5.82 return postage cost. The return period is 30 days.

H&M: P&P is £3.90 regardless of size and weight of package. Online returns can be made in store for credit or exchange only so no refund if you've bought online, but return by post and you can receive a refund and a pre-paid label is provided for postage returns so it won't cost anything. The returns period is 28 days.

Zara: Postage is £3.95 or free for orders over £50, and there is also an express delivery option for £9.95 which I assume is for mainland UK only as this is usually the norm. Returns can be made in store or via their home pick-up service within 1 month.

Topshop: Postage is £4, or free for orders over £75 and free worldwide on orders over £100 which is pretty good I think. They also have a nominated day delivery option which is only £1 than the standard postage Monday-Friday and £7.50 for Saturday delivery, and the good news is it's available for Northern Ireland which is rarely the case. Postal returns are free within 14 days of receipt with a pre-paid label, or the collect+ facility is also available.

New Look: UK standard postage is £3.95 or £4.95 next day. Returns are free to store and with collect+ within 28 days of receipt, by post it seems you have to pay for it yourself.

Cos: UK delivery is £6 but cannot be returned to stores, postage returns are free with a pre-paid label but they have to be within 14 days.

Whistles: Standard UK mainland and Islands delivery is free and there is a next day service available for UK mainland for £6. Interestingly they also do a same evening delivery for various postcodes within London when ordered before 12noon the same day for £10. Returns are within 14 days and can be made to stores but not concessions, postal returns are free.

Reiss: delivery is free to all over the UK, next day delivery is available for £7, if ordered before 3pm and the London same day delivery is available for £15. Returns are to be made within 14 days of receipt by post only and are not free.

Warehouse: standard delivery is £3.50 and nominated day is £4.95 both for UK mainland and the Islands. There is a same day delivery which is £6.99, you have to check is it available for your postcode but I would imagine this is only available in London or possibly some other UK mainland cities. They have a 90 minute delivery option for £7.99 supposedly available in all major cities even Belfast, but when I checked a few Belfast postcodes it was not available. Returns are all free through store, collect+ or post with a pre-paid label.

Oasis: standard delivery is £3.95 to UK mainland, Northern Ireland is £3.99, next working day and nominated day are £4.99 but this is only available to mainland UK. They also do the 90 minute delivery for £4.99 or free for orders over £75 which they say is available for most major cities but I have a feeling it wouldn't actually work for Belfast. Returns are free via store, collect+ or by post.

Asos: standard delivery is free, UK next day is available for £5.95 or free for orders above £100, but this looks as if it's only mainland UK.They also do a years unlimited next day delivery for £9.95 although this is not available for Northern Ireland (booooo!!). Returns are free but have to be by postage as ASOS don't have stores (obviously).

Dorothy Perkins: delivery is £4 to all over the UK and returns are via store or post within 28 days and a pre-paid postal label is provided.

The winner: Its got to be ASOS, it has got the best options for delivery and return with both being free and their unlimited next day delivery for £9.95 a year is unbeatable, but with them being an online only store they should have the best P&P and return policies, as they do not have the same costs and overheads as a physical store would have. Whistles are not far behind though with free delivery and returns.

The Looser: New look offer neither free delivery or free postal returns so they are the looser, every other store I looked at offered at least one of these for free. You need to take a long hard look at yourself New Look!!

So onto outfits, Saturday we went to an impromptu meal after our friends baby's christening, the wee dote was only 1 week old and the new mum looked fabulous after just a week and a c-section to boot. I wore the DIY boyfriends again with my mango jacket and my ASOS wedges, that I seem to live in now.

H&M black top
Mango Jacket
Criminal Jeans
ASOS boots
On Sunday we went shopping to a very cold and wet Belfast so comfort and warmth was the main factor in getting dressed here, so not very fashion forward but at least I was warm.

H&M jumper
Zara Jeans
Moda in Pelle boots
H&M scarf
Next wool coat
With the speding ban now well and truly broken I managed to get some amazing bargains and ticked a fair few items off my SS essentials list. I got the mid blue skinnies I've been after for a while in Zara and a denim shirt and mustard skirt in H&M. The sale in Zara is still pretty good and I was surprised at the amount of sizes left, 8/10 and size 5 shoes usually go first so I'm usually left with the dregs at this stage but I was pleasantly surprised (the hubs not so much though) with the selection left. I did go a bit cray-cray in Zara for shoes, here's my sale purchases below, I also got camo print trainers for an amazing £6.99 but forgot to photograph them and there are no pics online but I'm sure you'll be seeing them very soon.




I also got these red jeans in Zara but they will promptly be going back after I noticed the shoddy stitching on the back when I got home, and they have the cheek to have 'premium demin' all over the labels, hope this is just an oversight and not a sign of things to come for Zara quality.


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cheese grating boyfriends

Now there's a few words I never thought I'd use together. Boyfriend jeans seem to be all the rage at the mo, and while they’re not a new Phenomenon I’m sure they are going to be pretty big this year. I have to admit I wasn’t completely sold on boyfriend jeans in the AW season as I think they only look good when a bit of ankle is showing, be it with trainers, ankle boots, pumps or brogues. The thought of cold ankles really put me off as I’m one of those annoying moaning people who are always cold. But I have to say I’ve definitely warmed (get it?!) to them recently. Now as usual my requirements are long and boring but the number one requirement was fit, I wanted them to fit quite snug around the bum and crotch. The pair I got in my recent mango order weren’t actually too bad overall and if I had ordered a size smaller they probably would have been perfect. Following discussions with a few blogger mates, Fiona from Avenue57 and Sue from Susie so so suggested just rolling up a pair of straight leg jeans as they will have a snugger fit around the top. So I went to my ever growing eBay pile and pulled out a pair of Criminal straight leg jeans that were always a bit too big on me and tried the theory out, and what do you know, they’re not half bad.

H&M  blouse
Criminal jeans
Zara ankle boots

I decided they weren't quite as distressed as I would like, so set about doing some DIY distressing. I used a cheese grater on the pockets, first I cut a small slit so the grater has something to catch. I cut 2 slits on the front and pulled out the denim threads with tweezers. I like the effect but I think I will add a few more of these. I didn't want to go too mad at the start as obviously it can't be undone. Even though it was freezing on Sunday I really wanted to wear these and as I wasn't going too far I threw them on with a orange blouse to brighten things up.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sussing out the sizes and (no) snow day

I tend to do a lot of Internet shopping as it suits my lifestyle, but recently I've become a bit disheartened in it. Almost all of my recent orders have been sent back, for sizing reasons. I think it's getting increasingly harder to shop online, this may be something to do with the differences between the standard sizes in shops. Apparently there is no standard size guidelines in the UK so each store just sets their own sizes. Now this would be easy enough if all you had to do was figure out your size in each shop and simply buy that size when ordering online, but I have found that sizes vary within shops also, which is a bit of a nightmare. My recent Mango order all went back apart from the contrast sleeve jacket, which fitted fine but this was the only item that was sized using small, medium, large method. I found the rest of the Mango order far too big but an ASOS order I received the same day with the same size jeans were far too small. This really annoyed me as none of the three pairs of jeans I ordered fitted, I would have put it down to either loosing weight or piling on a few Christmas pounds if all the items were either too small or too big, but because it was a mixture I think it's just a case of different standards of size. I kind of fall between two sizes, so I have to take a bit of a chance with which one to pick each time.

I have clothes in my wardrobe ranging from size 6 - 12 all fitting me at the minute. So from my experiences here's my interpretation of the sizing in the main high street stores I would shop in.

Topshop: I think Topshop runs a little small, I'm definitely the bigger of my two sizes in jeans here, but usually the smaller size in tops.

ASOS: this is a tricky one as they stock own brand items as well as most of the major high street shops, but I find ASOS brand clothes slightly small on the bottom half but they can also be very gapey on the top half which is a bit of a nightmare when buying dresses.

Reiss: they have generous sizing or 'vanity sizing' in my opinion, I'm definitely the smaller of my two sizes and can even go down another size sometimes when I'm having a particularly good day.

H&M: while I buy a lot in H&M it really annoys me as their sizing is a bit all over the place, especially with trousers and jeans so I rarely buy these items over the Internet as it seems to really depend on the cut, I have the exact same trousers from H&M that I bought the same day in two difference sizes, so figure that one out!

Warehouse & Oasis: I find warehouse and Oasis true to size, this is probably because their clothes are aimed at an older demographic so they are more inclined to have a bit of a curvier shape with hips and boobs, rather than the teenage girl type shape.

Zara: Zara probably runs quite small, but I have had instances in the past where I have ordered two pairs of jeans the same size and one are perfect and one didn’t even go past my calf. Now they were different cuts of jean to be honest, one being skinny jeans and one being straight cut, but I don’t think there should be that much of a difference between them. In my experience their tops are true to size.

Mango: After my recent order I would say Mango have big sizing, which I was shocked at. I assumed because they were a European retailer that they would have quite a small fit. I could have went down a size in the jeans and possibly two sizes in the tops.

New Look: I find New Look pretty much true to size and could probably shop online here pretty easy.

Next: Next has probably the biggest sizing on the high street that I have ever come across, I sometimes find even their smallest size can be too big for me here, it was great when I was pregnant though as I was only really wearing my own size or up one size here so that made me feel like less of a heffalump!

Dorothy Perkins: I find trousers true to size but I find their tops a very generous fit.

Now I'm sure most people have had completely different experiences in these same shops, as obviously no two of us are the same size, but these are generally the rules I run with. For the minute I think I'll stick to good ole fashioned walking into a shop, lifting something and heading to the changing room - I think my postman will be best pleased!! 

Here's today's outfit, I had to do a bit of updating as the day went on as it was baltic and I was outside for a while with my wee man.
H&M navy jumper
H&M navy blazer
Topshop baxter skinnies
Navy Converse
Navy Hunter wellies
Dunnes fur hat
(Ignore the grubby little hand prints everywhere)

High fashion I think you'll agree.

We were supposed to get snow today, but not even so much as a flake appeared, I was a bit disappointed as I was planning on building snow men with the wee man (or no-men as he call them!). We had a little snow yesterday but it was coming down horizontal so we couldn't get outside to enjoy it. Speaking of snow I just remembered about these pic's, they're from 'the big freeze' two years ago. Not content with just building a snowman, the Engineer in me wanted to build an igloo. It was a design and build job, in that I designed the construction method it and built it (well most of it). It was -11 degrees while building this and I was nearly 4 months pregnant, needless to say it took me a few days to get over it!

a work in progress

Monday, 14 January 2013

You can always depend on Jo

I got this little delight delivered at the weekend, but unfortunately it's not for me, it's for my best friends 31st Birthday. I ordered online and you get to pick a free sample of cologne to be delivered with your order so I picked the same fragrance as the candle, Pomegranate Noir . I hadn't smelt this before I ordered it so just wanted to check before I gave it to her that it wasn't disgusting (highly unlikely I know). Well I wasn't disappointed it smells devine and I'm wearing the perfume now and I can still smell it 15 hours later. It's quite heady to be honest and smells a bit masculine, which I like, but not everyone would. The official website blurb on it describes it as 'The sensuality of a daring red dress. Ruby-rich juices of pomegranate, raspberry and plum are spiked with pink pepper and laced with Casablanca lily and spicy woods. Dark and enigmatic.' Whatever that means!

When I was a teenager I went through a phase of wearing men's aftershave instead of perfume (no I wasn't a confused teenager, it was a bit of a craze at the time) and it has kind of stuck with me. In a perfume shop I will usually head straight to the men's section for a wee sniff before venturing over to the perfume. My all time favourite fragrance is Issey Miyake men's aftershave, if you haven't smelt it your life is not complete. In the past I wasn't a big perfume fan to be honest, I would far rather spend £30 or £40 on a pair of shoes, but the aforementioned best friend is a self confessed perfume addict, and she has slowly but surely converted me over the last few years. She bought me Mark Jacobs Daisy for our wedding day and gave me Jo Malone English pear and Freesia perfume as a gift for being her bridesmaid, so it was her who got me hooked really and started my love for Jo Malone. Once my wee sample runs out I'm definitely replacing it with a big bottle, because I couldn't possibly break my spending ban again........... or could I?! ;)

On to outfits, both of these are from Saturday. Firstly my day outfit, I got all excited on Saturday morning when it looked a bit sunny outside and planned an outfit in my head, but that was swiftly put to bed when I stuck my head out the window for a sec, it was bloody freezing, so I settled for a shirt, jumper and boots combo for maximum warmth as I was out and about with the wee man.

F&f cable knit jumper
Hollister shirt
Zara Jeans
Moda in Pelle Boots

On Saturday night I went to a surprise 40th for my friend so whipped out the pleather trousers again, this time with mint instead of the yellow. I love these trousers as they are a great fit, but boy are they hard to get off, going to have to pull a Ross from friends next time and bring the baby powder I think.

H&M mint top
Ebay Mint blazer
Ebay bubble necklace
H&M pleather leggings
Asos wedges
My Mango order arrived yesterday (as seen in this post) and everything is too big except the contrast sleeve jacket. I always assumed Mango was quite small fitting like most European clothes, but it's definitely not so I would advise you to maybe size down, or if you are between two sizes like me go for the smaller of the two. On the plus side it means I have only broken my spending ban by 25 quid, so no too bad after all. Yes I know it's still a fail but at least its not an epic one, and I'm back on the wagon- is it February yet???!!!

Friday, 11 January 2013

SS 13 essentials list

So Christmas and New year are only just over, I’m still trying to get rid of those pesky bits of glitter, having Christmas biscuits with my tea, and finding random bits of wrapping paper everywhere but I think it’s high time to start thinking of my Spring/Summer essentials list. I’m shopping for Spring/Summer together because we don’t tend to have a big difference in the two seasons here in Northern Ireland, and usually Spring is the warmer of the two seasons with our best weather the past few years generally being in April or May so there’s not a big difference in spring and summer clothes really.

I have blogged before about the fact that I don’t have a wish list as such, it’s more of a shopping list. After trawling all my favourite blogs, catching up on magazines and scrolling through Pinterest I have a good idea of the pieces I’m after for S/S. I then have a look in my wardrobe just to see what would work well with what I already have in there. After doing a major wardrobe cull over the Christmas holidays I can safely say I have separated the wheat from the chaff. The chaff is currently sitting in a black bin bag ready for the charity shop, which I hope will end up being some one else's wheat if you know what I mean.

So back to my S/S essentials list, the items I feel I simply must have are as follows.

The number one item for SS has to be Boyfriend jeans, now these don’t need much of an explanation really as you would have to have been in hibernation over the past few months not to have noticed these popping up on almost every fashion blog and magazine. The reason I don’t already have a pair is that I cannot get the fit and colour that I’m looking for. I’m notoriously picky when it comes to jeans, and I’ve spoke before about how I imagine an item of clothing and then go on a (usually unsuccessful) hunt for it. So with this in mind my boyfriend jeans have to have the following criteria, mid blue, slim fit, distressed with holes, whiskering and/or shading, not too baggy around the bum and no MC hammer saggy crotch thing going on. I have this pair en route from Mango so I’m hoping they will fit the bill.

Boyfriend style jeans

Another thing I need is a denim shirt. Denim shirts are so damn versatile you can throw them on with almost anything, except jeans in a similar shade- that’s a double denim no no in my book. I already have a denim shirt but it’s more of a boyfriend one and I want a nice slim fit one that I can wear with skirts.

A pair of nude slipper flats are also on the list as my Topshop ballet flat’s aren’t really up to much, they’re almost identical to actual ballet slippers so don’t offer a lot of support or comfort. I like these Topshop ones but they do look a bit flimsy so I'm going to have to see them in the flesh.
I've wanted a mustard skirt for ages, pencil, skater or bodycon will do. I have a real thing for the colour mustard but it’s not that easy to find, so I’m hoping to come across one over the next few months. Here's Lilly from Lily's style in her mustard one.

I also really need to stock up on casual t-shirts too, in all the usual colours, I have a cream one ordered from ASOS but I need Khaki, black and grey also. w

I have a pair of grey Topshop baxters which I practically lived in when I was pregnant as they have quite a bit of stretch in them, but they’re just to big now so I really want to replace them with a smaller size but I think I’m probably only going to find them on ebay as I want the exact same ones as I had before and I probably originally bought them about three years ago. Here's the same ones, they're a lovely soft grey.

These are the essential pieces so anything else I spy over the next coming months is a bonus really. I have tried to change the way I shop recently and tend to buy things that slot into my wardrobe now rather than just random items of clothing. When I see something I want to buy I try to come up with a couple of things it will go with in my wardrobe and think where I’ll wear it before I actually buy it now.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Spending ban fail!

Right so remember my self imposed spending ban for the month of January? Well it was going great for all of four days - yes I lasted an abysmal four days. I was lying watching TV and had a bit of a brain wave regarding the distressed mid blue skinnies that have been on my wish list since about August. For some reason I knew I was going to find then on the Mango website. And as luck would have it the jeans I've been looking for were right there (albeit slightly lighter than I hoped for) and they were on sale so obviously it would have been rude not to.

Feeling all pleased with myself I had a further little nosey and spied a pair of boyfriend jeans too. It's been a little milder since Christmas so this has got me thinking about spring, so I guess it's time I gave into the the cold ankles and got me some boyfriend jeans.

Then just as I thought that'll do me, I remembered about the jacket that I had seen someone wearing on a blog a few months back, so I had a look for it not thinking it would still be there at this stage, but guess what, it was! With a measly fiver off too. I think (hope) its more of a khaki colour than it looks on the website.

I had to have a little nosey at tops too while I on the site and picked up this check shirt, I've been seeing some great outfit photos on Pinterest lately featuring similar shirts so I couldn't pass it up. I like the look of this yellow top also, feeling I need to brighten this up again with spring on its way. I'm usually a lot better at self control but I'm blaming all you fellow bloggers luring me in with posts featuring all your lovely bargains.

Outfit pics from last few day, all very casual as I did very little as I was trying to stay away from the shops. Saturday was the first day on the year in pumps, YEY!!! Although it was a little nippy, it is definitely a lot milder since Christmas so I took full advantage, I can't wait for full on pump weather again.

H&M Jumper (xmas pressie from little bro)
H&M jeans
Boohoo boots (years old)

H&M jumper
H&M cargo trousers
Hi tops via ebay

Primark sweatshirt
New Look skinnies
Converse trainers

Next blouse
New Look cardi
Zara jeans
Primark pumps

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Schools out........

I've been catching up on a few blogs today and I'm now jealous of everyone in their sparkly get- up's. I'm not massively into sparkles and sequins as I'm a bit of a tomboy but I always wear something sparkly on New Year's Eve. We went to a school themed party on new years eve so no sparkly dress for me, instead this is what I wore, I totally forgot about it until the day before so had to improvise a bit. wearing the hubs shirt and tie, think I just about got away with it.  So no sparkles for me but at least we had a great night with our friends to ring in 2013!

I'm enjoying my time off and taking it easy just playing with me wee man and doing a bit of cooking, so I don't have too many outfit posts, as I'm either in my PJ's or trackie bottoms (super stylish I know). This was my day outfit on New Years Eve, I love burgundy and animal print together, I didn't own any animal print until I bought these jeans and now I'm hooked on it.

Oasis leather jacket
Next cream blouse
George at Asda scarf
Vero Moda jeggings
Asos wedge boots