Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review: Kindle Fire HDX 7


   I'm a tablet-oriented kind of person - I love being able to browse on a bigger screen than my phone, but a smaller screen than my laptop, and still be able to use all of the applications that I'd use on a PC to their full extent.

   When my boyfriend bought me the Kindle Fire HDX to replace my broken Kindle Fire HD, I was so happy that I could continue using all my favourite apps, with some added features!
DISPLAY

   The tablet features a beautiful HDX display (apparently the 'X' just stands for more pixels) which brings up clear, crisp images - great for when I'm flicking through blogs and Instagram - however, this feature is standard in most tablets, so I wouldn't really consider it a major game changer.


STORAGE

   It comes with at least 16GB of internal storage as standard. This is perfect for me, as I listen to a considerable amount of music, and I love trying out apps and reading on the go (although books don't tend to take up THAT much memory). You can also purchase the HDX in storage capacities of 32GB and 62GB, but the higher the storage, the higher the cost.

   Amazon also offer a cloud storage service, which you get free with any Amazon tablet. This provides unlimited storage for Amazon content, i.e. products you've downloaded from Amazon such as books, music and apps. They'll also allow you to store 250 of your own imported songs for free, as well as 5GB worth of storage for your own files such as photos, videos and documents. I never reach this limit, as I tend to store everything in external hard drives anyway, but it's useful for those who don't.

APPS

   It can be argued that no other app store really rivals Apple or Google Play. The Amazon app store is a little poor at the moment in terms of choice; major apps available through Amazon include Facebook, Twitter, iPayer, Candy Crush, Temple Run, Spotify (this was a deal-maker for me!), Skype and Pinterest, etc. Most other apps tend to have exclusivity with Apple or Google, including Instagram (which, if you're desperate, you can download on your Kindle Fire by allowing third-party apps and downloading through the internet).

   Unfortunately, you do miss out on some apps because of the poor choice, but I'm pretty content with the apps that I CAN download.


CAMERA

   The HDX comes with a supposedly HD front-facing camera - though the outcome of the photographs in actuality is rather poor, so if you are looking for a tablet with better photography capabilities, I'd go for the HDX 8.9, which has an 8MP rear-facing camera. However, it's really useful for video-calling friends or family (this is the only purpose I use it for).

SUMMARY

   In terms of usability, this is a consumer-friendly tablet with great features. It's light and easy to handle, and small enough to hold in one hand whilst reading. In terms of pricing, it's miles cheaper than an iPad or Samsung tablet, but it's really the app store you're paying for. If you can live without a giant universe of apps at your fingertips, I'd definitely recommend getting the Fire HDX 7!

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Monday, 29 December 2014

The Coziest Winter Booties Ever


HAT - PRIMARK / SUNGLASSES - ZEROUV* / JUMPER - H&M / TROUSERS - BOOHOO / BOOTS - MORLANDS OF GLASTONBURY**

   I'm not kidding when I say that these boots are the coziest Winter boots I've ever worn. They're even warmer than my last pair of Uggs; not to mention, they're miles more stylish - and durable. I wore my Uggs regularly for around a year before they started to fall apart and become misshapen, but I can see these boots lasting for a good long while due to their high quality materials.

   These are leather, suede and sheepskin boots by Morlands of Glastonbury: a brand famed for its practical-yet-fashionable sheepskin accessories and clothing. Wearing these out and about in the cold, I was toasty warm but didn't feel weighed down with layers - the sheepskin inside the boot is light, but insulative, and the suede and leather outer layers definitely keep the cold out.

   The fit is excellent -  I never like wearing winter clothing or shoes that are too tight, as I tend to get even colder. These boots are nice and snug around my ankles, providing lots of support, and slightly looser around the calves. I did find, however, that the zip was slightly difficult to shift - I don't know whether this is common amongst leather and sheepskin boots, but it's not something that would dissuade me from purchasing another pair.

   In terms of style, versatility is a key aspect for me, and these boots tick the boxes. As I wear a lot of black, they go particularly well with my wardrobe, but they're also available in a dark brown shade, as are all of Morlands' ladies sheepskin boots. At £175.00, they're a great investment for the Winter months - but if your budget won't stretch that far, Morlands have a great selection of high quality boots in various styles from £99.00, as well as other accessories such as gloves and cashmere and lambswool scarves from £19.00.


* Items gifted for review purposes
** In partnership with Morlands of Glastonbury
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Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Zara Sale Edit

Zara Edit
1. Cocoon Jacket - Was £129, now £89.99
2. White Blazer - Was £69.99, now £49.99
3. Tunic - Was £35.99, now £25.99
4. Silver Vest - Was £25.99, now £17.99
5. Faux Leather Trousers - Was £29.99, now £19.99
6. Skinny Jean - Was £39.99, now £29.99
7. Leather Clutch - Was £79.99, now £59.99
8. Sequined Jumper - Was £35.99, now £19.99
9. Mesh Boot - Was £39.99, now £29.99
10. Knitted Bomber Jacket - Was £109, now £79.99
11. Doctor's Bag - Was £39.99, now £29.99
12. Pleated Trousers - Was £59.99, now £39.99
13. Black Camisole - Was £19.99, now £15.99
14. Pearl Headband - Was £15.99, now £9.99
15. Gloves - Was £29.99, now £19.99
16. Mesh Flats - Was £29.99, now £19.99

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

DIY Farm Shop Hamper

DIY Farm Shop Hamper

   This DIY farm shop style hamper is a delicious treat for any luxury food lover, plus it's a practical gift for times when you're not quite sure what to buy a certain family member, friend or colleague.

   This is completely personalised, with all the food picked by you - so you may want to note if the giftee has any allergies or dislikes, but also if they have a passion for a particular type of food. I recommend looking for long lasting foods such as preserves, chocolate and well-packaged biscuits - this hamper's all about appearances, so try and find these items in luxury-looking packaging.

   Below is a flatlay of the items I've used for this hamper (all available at Tesco).

Luxury Food Flatlay

   Next, you'll need some form of box to form the hamper; I've used a cardboard box, but you can use a wicker basket or a pretty storage box if you're looking for a more stylish presentation.

   Then, lay some sheets of tissue paper diagonally into the bottom of the box so that it spills over the sides slightly. After that, you can start positioning you items. Place the heaviest items in the bottom of the box to stop any fragile items being crushed!

luxury food hamper

   After you've laid in your heavier items, cover them with a layer of shredded paper. This is available from most card shops, but you can always DIY-it by concertina folding some newspaper, then cutting it in thin strips.

Shredded paper in luxury food hamper

   Lay your lightest items on top of the layer of shredded paper, displaying them in a fan or layered format. Wrap the hamper in a sheet of cellophane wrap, and tie with a pretty bow!

   For an extra touch, you could slide a pretty gift tag onto the bow, and write your to-and-from along with a little message!

complete luxury food hamper in cellophane wrap with bow

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Weekday Wishlist 22/12/14

   It's not wrong to sneak in a little wishlist just before Christmas, is it? I'm sure my dear boyfriend has already exhausted his resources catering to my outrageous demands (just kidding, I'm not THAT superficial when it comes to receiving presents), but just in case he hasn't, here are my top selections for this week!


1. Sunglasses by Elizabeth and James - £120
2. Bracelet by Alexander McQueen - £135
3. Trousers by H&M - £14.99
4. Jumper by Acne - £270
5. Leather Skirt by Bruuns Bazaar - £259
6. Ring by Cheap Monday - £10
7. Boots by ASOS - £31
8. Dress by Baum und Pferdgarten - €369
9. Jumper by Dagmar - £230
10. Cape by Zara - £45.99
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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Straight Masterpieces

OOTD by Art Style Love
OOTD by Art Style Love
OOTD by Art Style Love
OOTD by Art Style Love
Nike Air Force Ones

COAT - H&M (similar here) / SCARF - NEW LOOK / LEGGINGS - BOOHOO / SHOES - NIKE

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Friday, 19 December 2014

7 of the Best: Luxury Giftwrap

   Wrapping presents, can be a chore, but sometimes getting creative with your gift wrap can do wonders to revolutionise your Christmas decor. Below are seven of my favourite luxury gift wraps from various stockists - decorate with tags, ribbons and pretty embellishments to brighten up the space beneath your tree!

   A bit lost on how to give your wrapped presents a little extra Christmas sparkle? Try out some ideas from my favourite gift wrapping videos by Anne or Shine, M&S and Michelle Phan, or just try and think out of the box - try gluing colourful buttons onto the paper, or using natural resources like twigs and holly!
KATE SPADE Paint the town red reversible wrap
1. Paint the Town Red Reversible Wrap by Kate Spade - £12.95 for 30" x 5' roll


   This cheery red has a shocking pink reversible side, so you can watch your Christmas go from merry to chic in one swift rip of the paper!

Buy John Lewis Wood Grain White On Craft Gift Wrap, 3m Online at johnlewis.com

2. Wood Grain White on Craft by John Lewis - £3.00 for 3m roll

   Okay, not entirely luxury, but it's such a pretty wrapping paper to use if you're hosting a 'woodland heritage' themed Christmas. This would work great with brightly-coloured ribbon and craft-style gift tags.

SUGAR PAPER Sunshine yellow reversible wrapping paper
3. Sunshine Yellow Reversible Wrapping Paper by Sugar Paper - £7.50 for a 91 x 60cm sheet

   This beautiful yellow tone will bring a smile to any humbug's face; plus, it has a pretty yellow and white striped side!


4. Chalkboard Wrapping Paper by Not on the High Street - £9.75 for 2 sheets

   This nifty set includes a white chalkboard pen, so that you can write your own messages and not have to worry about gift tags!

Fabric close-up - Winter Trees print in Neon Pink.

5. Crackle Wrap in Neon Pink by Wrag Wrap - £5.45 for 70 x 70cm sheet

   Considering an ethical Christmas? Wrag Wrap have an alternative to throwaway wrapping paper, with their reusable gift wraps. This green and neon pink speaks wonders for the eco-friendly present-giver!


6. Marble Speckled Wrapping Paper by NormansPrintery - £9.21 for 33 x 48cm sheet

   Etsy is a great place to find everything from jewellery to art and, of course wrapping paper. This example is one of many available - but I picked this particular one for its pretty bird's egg style paint splatters.


7. Silver Neon Flock Paper by Paperchase - £4 for 2m roll

   This pretty paper from Paperchase is great for adding just a touch of colour to a white-themed Christmas. Add white, silver or yellow ribbon for the perfect colour combo.

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Creamy Bread and Butter Pudding


   It had just occurred to me that I'd bought a loaf of bread at the beginning of this week, and hadn't actually got round to using it. Not being one to throw usable food away, I decided to make the nation's favourite frugal dessert: bread and butter pudding, using Lurpak's Cooking Mist*.

   This is a really easy recipe; all you'll need is:


Lurpak Cooking Mist
25g butter
8-10 slices of bread
50g sultanas
2 tsp cinnamon powder
350ml milk (use whole milk if you like it really creamy)
50ml double cream
3 eggs
30g granulated sugar



   Spray the Lurpak Cooking Mist into an oven-proof dish to grease it. The blend of Lurpak butter and vegetable oil give an even coverage, so you're guaranteed fuss-free serving come dinner time!

   This is a great ingredient for anything from glazing to basting; and it's really easy to use. I primarily use it for greasing dishes and pans, as it's so much quicker than using butter and a greasing utensil (plus, it calls for less washing up) - but if you're feeling creative, here are some adventurous and tasty recipes you could try... once you've finished this one, of course!



   Next, butter the bread, then cut off the crusts and slice each piece diagonally. Line the triangular pieces, butter side up, onto the bottom of the dish, then sprinkle with half the sultanas and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

   Repeat until the dish is filled, finishing with a layer of bread on top (if you finish with sultanas, they may burn in the oven and leave a bitter taste in your mouth).



   Warm the milk and cream together in a saucepan. Do not let it boil.

   Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add around three quarters of the sugar, and whisk again until the mixture is a pale cream-colour.

   Add the warm milk and cream mixture to the bowl, and stir.



   Pour the mixture over the bread, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar. At this point, I like to add a little grated nutmeg, but this is entirely up to your own tastes!

   Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 C/335 F/Gas 4.

   Place the dish into the oven and bake for around 30-40 minutes, or until the top is a delicious golden brown. Enjoy!

* Gifted in association with Lurpak

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Weekday Wishlist 15/12/14


1. Black Jeans by Frame Denim - £225
2. Red Wool Jumper by Bella Freud - £270
3. Cut Out Boots by Alexander Wang - £515
4. Mini Satchel by 3.1 Phillip Lim - £585
5. Grey Oversized Top by Monki - £25
6. Leather Boots by Ash - £209
7. Light grey Leather Jacket by River Island - £65
8. Duster Jacket by Topshop - £89
9. Embroidered Blouse by Mango - £44.99
10. Silver Necklace by Alex Monroe - £108
11. Silver Watch by Skagen - £115
12. Heels by Supertrash - £215
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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sunny Afternoon

New Look cape
New Look cape
tartan cape

FEDORA - PEACOCKS (similar here) / SUNGLASSES - ASOS / TOP - NEW LOOK / CAPE - NEW LOOK (similar here) / JEANS - (NEW LOOK)  /BOOTS -NEW LOOK (similar here)

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

10 Tips for Keeping on Budget this Christmas


   We all know the toll that Christmas takes on the old bank balance, and yes, it's difficult to find a happy medium between hosting a Christmas with all the trimmings, and saving some money for the New Year bash - but there is a way! In fact, there are multiple ways, and here are a few ideas on how to keep to your budget, and still have the Christmas you've been waiting for.

   1. Set a budget (duh)

   The whole point of sticking to a budget is to have one in the first place, so sit down and make a quick list (or spreadsheet, if you're persnickety, like me) of your incomes and outgoings, how much you're able to spend, and how much you need to save. List all the people you're buying gifts for and how much you're budget is for each person. This seems pretty Scrooge-like, but at least it gives you a rough idea of what you can and can't afford - do not shop on impulse!

   2. Sift through a charity shop or two

   I'm not saying, 'only buy from charity shops this season', but you can find some quirky one-offs if you're looking hard enough, for example, a set of books or an unopened makeup kit. Plus, it goes towards a good cause!

   3. Compare prices

   I really cannot stress this point enough. If you see something great in a shop, chances are it'll go for a cheaper amount elsewhere. Perfumes are a great example of this; I always check Boots and Debenhams first, and if the items aren't on offer I'll try fragrancedirect.co.uk or feelunique.com for better savings.

   Beware the internet, however. Always make sure the site's legit before you hit 'purchase'!

   4. Make your own

   These presents can sometimes turn out a bit dubious-looking, but at least you've put thought into it! First, brainstorm the interests of your gift-ee, then put your inventiveness to the test! For example, you could make your partner a movie-night-in package complete with popcorn, a DVD and some glass-bottled Coca Cola.

   For more homemade present ideas, check out my list here.

   This also works for food. Think about how much you could save if you made your own mince pies, reindeer cookies and Christmas cake with what you've already got in the cupboards, rather than buying them from the shops at much higher prices!

   5. Make a Christmas cupboard

   It may be too late for this year's Christmas, but maybe think about trying this for 2015: designate a cupboard, box or draw specifically for Christmas goods. If you see something at a great price that you know a loved one would want, buy it and pop it in the draw. You'll get your Christmas gifting done before you can say ho ho ho!

   6. Secret Santa

   This old tradition is perfect for offices or friend groups - if you've only got one person to buy for, you can focus on getting them something special, rather than trying to spread the cost over five or six people.

   7. Buy 'family gifts'

   If you're buying for, say, your partner's family, why not buy a 'family gift' in place of separate ones? This could be something that all the family will enjoy using, like a boardgame. It saves money and encourages 'togetherness' at the same time!

   8. Negotiate

   Remember, shops have targets to meet, and they'll sometimes be willing to reduce prices or throw in extra items to make a good sale. This works mostly for stores that sell  high-priced products such as appliances, electronics, jewellery, furniture, etc. This is where shopping instore, rather than the internet, comes in handy.

   9. Avoid thoughtless gifts

   Often, people tend to throw in thoughtless gifts (like a toiletries set, scarf or address book) just to bulk up present packages. However, that money could have been saved, or put towards a nicer main present, than one they may never use and end up throwing away (= wasted money). Also, 'joke' presents never seem to end up being useful to that person in the future and usually end up thrown away, too (= more wasted money).

   10. Stay local

   I know it can be a big temptation to flock to the capital (if you're not already from London) for its huge range of shops and Christmas activities, but this can really wrack up costs. Why not visit the local towns in your county for independent shops and fairs, and find yourself some unique gifts at affordable prices? Supporting your community and high street is so important at this time of year!
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Monday, 8 December 2014

Delicious Confit Salmon


   This decadent confit salmon is perfect for a starter at your Christmas dinner; it features a subtle combination of sweet and salty flavours, and satisfies those pre-roast dinner hunger pangs!

   The recipe, put together by Michelin-starred chef, Tom Sellers, serves 2 portions; however, ingredients can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled depending on how big your Christmas gathering will be!

You will need:

300g salmon
Sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, crushed
25g dried cranberries
A pinch of flaked sea salt
4 slices of rye sourdough, toasted
Fresh watercress to garnish


   STEP 1.

   Melt the Lurpak Clarified Butter* in a pan, and add the thyme, bay leaf, crushed garlic and cranberries.

   The Clarified Butter is 100% pure concentrated Lurpak Butter - so it allows you to cook at high temperatures and really lock in flavours.

   STEP 2.

   Lightly salt the salmon and leave on a tray for ten minutes to cure the flesh, then place the salmon into the hot melted butter skin-side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip over and cook for 2-3 minutes until the fish is opaque.

   STEP 3.

  Chill the contents in a fridge for 30 minutes or until the butter solidifies. Toast the sourdough slices.

   STEP 4.

   Spread the butter (with all the extras) onto the toasted sourdough. Break up the salmon with a fork and place on top of the layer of Clarified Butter. Garnish with fresh watercress and serve!



* (Gifted) In association with Lurpak
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Friday, 5 December 2014

Budget Christmas Wishlist - Everything under £50

   If I were compiling my regular 'Weekday Wishlist', it'd be usual for me to throw in a few of my current favourite designer items to hit stockists like Avenue 32, Nordstrom or Coggles; however, I've decided that, as I'm on a serious budget this Christmas, I'd create a wishlist that I can actually afford! And, hopefully, you may spot a couple of high street goodies below to suit your friends, family, or even a naughty little self-gift (we all do it...).

   Without further ado, here are my select budget buys for the first week of Christmas!



1. Black Chiffon Midi Shirt by New Look - £19.99
2. Black Ankle Boots by Public Desire - £27.99
3. Retro Round Sunglasses in 'Tortoise Midnight' by ZeroUV - $9.99
4. Bra by Monki - £18
5. Pants by Monki - £8
6. Backpack by La Moda - £39.99
7. Bodycon Dress by Topshop - £30
8. Biker Trousers by H&M - £19.99
9. Sequined Jacket by Bershka - £49.99
10. Stitched Skirt by Mango - £34.99
11. Faux Croc Stilettos by Missguided - £24.99
12. Perfume Bottle Clutch by Aldo - £40
13. Contrast Flats by Missguided - £13.99
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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Bringing Booty Back: My Style Icons of 2014

IGGY AZALEA / JENNIFER LOPEZ / NICKI MINAJ / BEYONCÉ / KIM KARDASHIAN

   Has 2014 been 'the year of the booty'? Iggy's 'The New Classic' became the highest-selling female rap album, J-Lo featured in the official song for the World Cup, Nicki released the controversial 'Anaconda' which broke the Vevo record for the amount of views it received within 24 hours, BeyoncĂ© performed in the sell-out 'On the Run' tour and Kim Kardashian tried to break the internet with her notorious 'Paper' magazine cover. 

   It's easy to say that it's been a pretty amazing year for these women - and their influence and popularity have spanned the entire world. Sure, some of them have received hate for the emphasis and exaggeration they place on their own figures, and I'd be the first to say that I wouldn't want all eyes on my behind, but if it empowers them then why not? 

   So why am I featuring these women in particular? What is it about their figures that resonates so much with me?

   Well, I've always been hugely self-conscious about my pear-shaped figure, so much so that I've always tried to cover up my hips and thighs with long t-shirts, smock dresses and oversized cardigans. I hated standing in front of full-length mirrors, and there was no way I could wear a bikini without a sarong around my waist.

   As a teenager I was always jealous of my friends' slim frames, and I couldn't help but wonder where I was going wrong. I began exercising obsessively, racking up miles on the treadmill and even doing squats while brushing my teeth. My friends always joked about how they ate junk food and got away without doing exercise, but I felt like I'd just get bigger and bigger if I did the same.

   It took me years of exercising, and not really getting anywhere, to realise that no amount of squats, push-ups, lunges, skipping, hula-hooping or running would make me look as slim as Kendall Jenner or Taylor Swift. And so I began to embrace my curvaceous hips, and with the inspirational style of the women mentioned above, dressed to compliment, rather than to cover up. Jeans, an item of clothing I never thought I could pull off, became an everyday staple, and pencil skirts were my workwear saviour. 

   I'll continue to exercise and eat well, but this time I'll look in the mirror and love what I see. Self-improvement is always a lingering aim in life, and we SHOULD improve ourselves, but only if it brings happiness and confidence, whether pear-shaped, apple, strawberry, hourglass or column!

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