Thursday, 26 November 2015

Winter Wardrobe // Shopping for Petite Girls!

With Christmas less than a month away and moving day even sooner, I decided now is the time to get rid of some old seldom-worn garments and replace them with winter-appropriate things I'm going to love! However, shopping, especially online where you can't try clothes on, can prove challenging for the vertically-challenged. Throughout this post I will be imparting some wisdom on how to shop for someone who, like me, stands around 5 feet tall. Most of my tips are common-sensical, but there may be some ideas you've never even thought of or overlooked.

Firstly, as with all online shopping, have a good look around on different sites at what you've added to your wishlists. Once you've found an item you particularly like, read the information about the product. Most sites will tell you how tall the model wearing the item is. Let's assume you're a size 8: if the model is over 5 inches taller than you and wearing a size 8, there's a good chance it might be a bit too long. Have a look and see if there's a size smaller - a size 6 or an XS. If not, and you're not willing to risk paying for something that may not fit, remove it from your wishlist to stop clutter! I would say though, if you're not in any hurry for a garment and the site has a good returns policy (such as Asos), there's no harm in ordering it as you're definitely going to get your money back.

The best case scenario for short girls though, is to find a site that focuses entirely on petite clothing (not sites like Asos which only have a petite section). One of my favourite sites is Sweet Mayhem (@shopsweetmayhem on Insta), whose only model is 5'0 like me. If something fits her perfectly, I know it's going to fit me! The only downside is that the store is based in America, so it takes a little bit longer for the clothes to arrive. In my experience, maybe about a week and a half to two weeks. But it's worth it when they arrive! Also, you're paying in dollars, so even with the cost of shipping, most of the time it's cheaper than paying for same-quality clothing from England. I recently bought their Madeline Lace Trim Sweater ($23.99), along with the lace tights that accompany it in the photo below. The jumper fits me perfectly and is looking set to become a favourite! It's so easy to style.

Sweater paws make me so happy.

Sticking with the wine/burgundy theme, I then headed across to In The Style, where I purchased their Natalia Dress with Cut-Out Sides (£19.99). It's just been delivered today and I couldn't be happier with it. The material clings to me beautifully, it's low-cut but classy, and my booty look good. The criteria for a perfect dress, really. I've paired it with a black faux fur gilet (£25.00) from Stephanie Pratt's collection at Missy Empire. This combo will be great for any fancy Christmas dinners/parties I'm going to. Definitely dressing to impress this Christmas!

I was just giving up on finding a suitable winter coat when I found one on the high street. It's not a perfect length for me; hardly anything is; but it keeps me cosy and warm. I got my khaki coat with a faux fur hood from The Factory Shop for £30.00. A few days after, I got some knee-high pleather boots from Shoe Zone (£19.99) which make me feel really comfortable in my own skin. Together, they feel good! However, if I'm going somewhere where a bit of a heel is required, I'll pair it with my gold-toe-capped boots from Peacocks (£30.00) instead.

Nail polish featured: Maybelline Colour Show in Downtown Red.
Lip colour featured: Max Factor Lipfinity in #110 Passionate.

And that's my Christmas style, guys! What are you wearing this winter?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Anniversary Trip to Manchester // Imagine Dragons, Prezzo and Christmas Market

A few months ago, I booked tickets to an Imagine Dragons gig in Manchester for me and my boyfriend, as his anniversary present, and this week, it finally came around! Our time together started on the 12th, our actual anniversary, where we had a night in binge-watching my favourite TV programs: American Horror Story: Hotel, Scream Queens, The Last Kingdom and First Dates. It was then that he presented me with my present, a beautiful Pandora ring. He knows how I like my Pandora jewellery! He did well in his choosing; not only is it silver to go with my despairingly pale skin tone, but there are also no stones that could be lost whilst pot-washing at work (my other ring is still missing one). Not only that, but somehow he managed to find me an anniversary card - all the ones I could find were addressed to husbands or wives! - and it even had a cute frog on the front that looks like my favourite emoji (what else can a girl ask for?). I did, however, buy him "champagne with a twist" - the twist being the champagne bottle is made out of chocolate. He didn't seem too disappointed.

On the morning of the 13th, we prepared ourselves for the journey to Manchester. It involved a bus to the train station, a train to Manchester (booked on the really handy Trainline app), a tram to Victoria, and a short walk to the hotel to be checked in by 3pm. We had an entirely stress-free journey. Everything is well sign-posted in Manchester and the transport links are so good! Failing that, there was always Google maps. We checked in to the hotel, Park Inn by Radisson, just after three, and were directed to our room quickly and efficiently. I'm glad I found the vacancy on!

They received my request for a double bed (thank God), but what we got completely exceeded my expectation. It was more like a King-size! Dec collapsed on it straight away, a happy bunny, while I marvelled that I even had my own kettle and everything needed to make tea (I don't stay in hotels often haha). We also enjoyed free wifi, and a massive high quality TV. After a quick shower and getting dolled up, our minds then turned to dinner, or tea, as I call it. He made a spontaneous reservation at Prezzo as we had both never been, and I especially enjoy Italian food. It turned out to be about 5 minutes away. We arrived just before our reservation at 5, and were served within 10 minutes! I had lasagne and garlic bread which was absolutely gorgeous, and Dec seemed to enjoy his carbonara. I'm inserting a picture here to give you some indication of how beautiful the interior was:

For those of you wondering, Dec sadly failed his carbonara mission.

I had the best wine I have ever tasted, Pinot Grigio Blush, and Dec let me try his Aspall's cider (one more thing to recommend to the customers at work!) - they even made that look posh! I really enjoyed it there. I think it comes second only to Bella Italia.

After filling our bellies we made our way to Manchester Arena for the main event. We got there for the doors at six thanks to the quick service at Prezzo, and ordered a few drinks to take to our seats. Good thing we did because Imagine didn't come on until 8.45! Obviously, the (surprisingly good) supporting act, Sunset Sons entertained everyone inbetween, but the intermissions were long. Needless to say though, they were worth the wait. I hadn't enjoyed the Smoke and Mirrors album as much as Night Visions, but hearing the songs live completely changed my opinion (strange how gigs can do that to you). Unfortunately they didn't play Friction, my favourite, but they did play all of Dec's favourites like Radioactive and Demons. I particularly enjoyed their performance of I'm So Sorry and The Fall almost brought me to tears!

The arena lit up for the emotional numbers

Sadly, during the gig, my sore throat that I have been suffering from for about a week became severely painful again, and I found it really hard to sleep when we got back to the hotel because of it. Luckily, we had requested breakfast previously, which came with chilled orange juice to help soothe my throat in the morning. We were up well before check-out at 12, so we relaxed watching TV in the room, and it was only after checking our phones that we heard about the previous night's terror attacks in Paris - those poor people. Kind of makes you feel guilty for having such a good night. Our train home wasn't scheduled 'til just before 2, so we decided to wander around the city centre for a while, and were glad we did because we didn't realise the Christmas market would be on! I wanted to buy everything. It was such a good end to the trip - I only wish I'd taken my umbrella!

The journey home was just as easy as the journey there, if a little bit (okay, a lot) more rainy. Dec relaxed with his PlayStation magazine on the train, and I had a good hour and a half to get stuck into The Picture of Dorian Gray. I won't lie, it wasn't a cheap trip; the hotel booking and train tickets alone mounted up to almost £200, but sometimes it's great just to get away from where you're from and enjoy somewhere new. I am so glad it was worth the money. Best anniversary ever!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase // Book Review

Themes: twinness, nostalgia, history, family, secrets, loss

I picked up Black Rabbit Hall while on a daytrip to St Ives on a really sunny day this summer, simply because it was advertised as being set in Cornwall and I thought it would be a nice way to immortalise my holiday. In the same way as I feel a sense of connection to Scotland because of my Dad's family history, at times I also get a bit sentimental about Cornwall because of my Mum's.

Anyway, onto the book:

"One golden family. One fateful summer. Four lives changed forever. Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family's country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does."

The blurb made the story sound quite mystical, as though supernatural things were going to happen, and so I think I pictured something quite Woman In Black-esque. It turned out to be pleasantly different. I'm not usually a lover of contemporaries - I'm more of a fantasy girl - but, surprisingly, I did actually get attached to the family who first lived in 'Black Rabbit Hall'.

I particularly enjoyed the first chapter, which for me encapsulated everything that is best about Cornwall. The descriptions reminded me especially of my favourite place in Tintagel, on the cliffs looking out to the sea. This chapter is told through Amber's perspective, and although throughout her next few designated chapters I found myself getting annoyed at the writing style, as I so often do with contemporaries, I did like her and cared what happened to her. That goes for all the characters, so props to Eve Chase for that. I always had to read on to see what happened to them.

I'm not sure if you could compare this book to Downton Abbey because I've never seen it, but there is a big ol' house and lots of secrets surrounding the people who lived there. However, I liked the way that Black Rabbit Hall was described in the modern-day chapters: run down and no longer so grand. I liked the way it didn't seem high-end, pretentious or for snobby people. It felt exactly like an abandoned family home, as it should have done. I liked the closeness of the family and was glad for the reconciliations that took place.

Rating 3.5 stars. I would recommend this book but not in a OMG YOU HAVE TO READ IT NOW way.

Black Rabbit Hall is the 16th book I've finished reading this year. To see if I hit my goal of 25 books, become my friend on Goodreads, or, alternatively, view my Reading List/Book Reviews page.

~All images used in this post are my own.~