Lifestyle Blogging | Why I decided to open up the blog . . .

Why I decided to open up the blog

When I began therealjlow I had in the back of my mind the idea to have the blog cover various topics, the problem? I had no idea what I was doing and second I had no money to do what I wanted to do. (Like buy a whole new closet of clothes, change all our furniture weekly and you know find world peace . . . the normal)

So I had to look at what I could do and what I could do was the 30 x 30 challenge. I was completely in love with Kendi Everyday at the time (and still am, have you not read her blog?) and the idea of wearing clothes I already owned in different combinations gave me a months’ worth of content instantly. What actually happened however was I got a job, got distracted and started a personal style blog which ultimately led me to buying too many clothes and most of which I would rarely wear and be onto the next. I was honestly in the beginning the worst blogger known to man, I wrote sporadically, failed to really advertise blogs I didn’t join blogging communities like the Independent fashion Bloggers for the longest time and really it was sort of a none starter until I would guess 2014.

I started making plans, started speaking with incredible bloggers who I love and started working on content that really matters, the lifestyle you want with the budget you’ve got. A little bit of realism in an industry which is on the whole a lot more unrealistic than it was back in the day!

So what does this mean for me and you with therealjlow well here is the thing I would hate to not talk fashion anymore, because it will always be my first love but I really wanted to open up the playing field for everything else that we love in life, whether that is choosing your first piece of furniture or seventh! Putting together a cocktail or dinner for your friends right to issues affecting us every day!

I also really want to get you guess more involved. Something I have really wanted to do more of is blogger collabs! I love doing them and I love reading them and sharing the love so I really hope that some of you want to join forces and come up with some amazing things!I even want you to drop me a quick line about you want covered after all there’s always something I might miss so having your input is of great importance to me! My goal (I know I said this last year) is to get TRJL over to its own site! Saying that I have no idea where to turn with getting all this blog over to wordpress.org so again if you know of anyone (and who doesn’t cost a bomb!) I want to hear from you!

I am really, really excited about this! I’m looking forward to having a bit more freedom, trying more things out and sharing with you all! I think this will be the start of an incredible adventure!

TRJL SHOPS | Best of the sandals SS15

1. Long Tall Sally, Gardenia

2. Scholl, Pocket Ballerina Sandal

3. Toms, Correa in Burlap

4. Long Tall Sally, Mimosa

5. Clarks, Romantic Moon

6. Office, Williamsburg

7. Birkenstock, Arizona

Holy Cow. Sandals.

I have had a two year bad streak and I know I’m in my capsule and I shouldn’t be looking but my sandals rub. Isn’t that always the way? I. am. so. sad about the state of the summer shoe situation! Why must you hurt? So I have been searching the internet and here you have it my list of gorgeous shoes that have support or cushioned soles!

That’s all I ask for in life, you know? Memory foam, soles! May I also point out, Toms!! I want, I want, I want! I just have to wait until June and I am all in!!

DIY: The greatest jacket I ever made.

Jacket: Primark altered by me, Shirt: Gap, Jeans: Zara, Heels: Clarks

I technically made this bomber jacket thanks to an incredible tutorial found on A pair and a spare a while back. Although in the tutorial she used a plain grey sweater and then embellished it, I went a different route. While searching for that dream grey i instead found this, a Coca-Cola sweater which I simply cut and sewed shut to create this, quite possibly my greatest and simplest craft achievement.

In light of this I have a couple of long weekends coming up and I decided now was the time to not only use my as of yet unused sewing machine and make something new!

Looking to make something a little more complicated I am in love with the site Merricks Art! What I am really tempted by is this shirt dress tutorial, it looks pretty simple so I am hoping to use some of my fabric from India and hopefully make a nice new dress for the up coming summer!

What do you think? A good idea? I’m also tempted by this swing dress tutorial+

Happy Easter Weekend!!

out being silly with Josh!

As its still Easter weekend and we should all be enjoying our bank holiday off I thought I would make today short and catch up with you guys!!

This weekend was pretty awesome for us and its really felt like we’ve had quality time to kick back and relax. The only problem with these types of weekends? Not getting so much blog time, but then again if your real world is awesome how can you worry about endless photos right?

We have gotten an awful lot done this weekend and one of those things? Essential baking, from fruit (currents and cherry) scones to indulgent brownies and banana loaf to finish up some of our blackened bananas. We also got our car cleaned (finally) had our parents meet for the first time in the five years we’ve been together and even possibly finding our wedding venue!!

All things are go in the Hawkins family and theres nothing more exciting than that!

Freezing milky way bites for those bad days post easter!

afternoon tea break!

 

Capsule Wardrobes 101

A wonderful friend and excellent writer, Aimee Dewar commented last weekend and told me that she too has undertaken a capsule wardrobe of only 22 pieces! Ack! And asked if I had a beginners post which is helpful, now I have as we all know spoken a lot about capsules but today I thought I’d write a quick condensed what to do and what to expect post about starting a capsule wardrobe.

Your first Capsule will probably suck.

Elegantly worded I know but honestly if like most people you’ve come to this decision because you have loads of clothes and nothing to wear than never fear this will help but your first few months? Yeah, they’ll probably suck.

Why? Mainly because you’ve come to this conclusion because you’ve bought a lot of stuff without a pulled together vision and that’s ok, we’ve all shopped to make ourselves feel better, shopped to look better or just because consumerism states that we ‘need’ stuff. So in your first few months you may find that you in fact don’t actually like anything you own and that’s ok, that’s acceptable and you might also find that what you own no longer suits your lifestyle and this is what the challenge aims to change.

Design.

Personal style and fashion isn’t relevant to all of us. We don’t all spend our lives thinking about clothes but personally? I do. Before I began the capsule wardrobe I took some time to think and write down what I wanted to achieve from the capsule wardrobe.

  • I wanted my own personal, cohesive style
  • I wanted to make everyday dressing simpler
  • And I wanted to save money and buy less.

With all of that in mind I was then able to think about what type of style I wanted to eventually achieve and to start that I firstly looked at what I owned

Purge.

Rather than pulling out what you don’t like or wear pull out what you love and what you want to wear on a day to day basis!

Throw any of the following items;

Items beyond repair, which include things like un-mendable rips and holes and jumpers which are bobbled beyond repair.

Donate;

Anything that is still good quality as a personal choice I choose to donate to clothing banks which clothe the homeless but you can sell or donate to charity shops or any course you love you can also do a clothes swap with friends, I had one item which I felt would work well for my sister in law so there are multiple options when it comes to giving clothes a new lease of life!

Scared to Purge?

Most of us have probably had some reservations when it comes to throwing away large quantities of clothes which are perfectly wearable and why shouldn’t you? You spent your hard earned cash on these items! They’re not worn out, they might even still be high fashion and worst-case scenario? They might still have the tags on! Acknowledge the areas where you have spent irresponsibly but don’t beat yourself up about it most of us have been there too. But what to do about it?

The reality is having a lot of things we don’t need can often lead to dependency on these items to give our life worth and that’s not good. You are more important, more beautiful and more wonderful than any outfit you can pull together, I promise you that. So don’t feel bad for getting rid of the clutter in your life! There are plenty of incredible clothes banks and charities who can take your clothes and give them to well loved homes, it may be the end of your journey with these items but its not the end of the clothes life!

If your not sure you’re making the right decision with a certain item however there’s an easy way to find out. Only throw current season items but if your still not sure keep them close by and accessible during your first capsule and if you don’t wear it and think about it, then you probably never needed it in the first place!

Exceptions to the rule would be shorts that fit great but the sun never shone that summer, or snow boots/coats during mild winters.

Wear.

It might seem obvious but it wasn’t to me at first but your first capsule should probably just be items you already own.

Why? You need to establish the gaps in your wardrobe what have you been overlooking when impulse buying? What’s needed to develop your style? These are things you can only find once you’ve spent some time looking at what you already own.

Assess.

Your possibly a week in, a month or you’ve done three months or more but keep assessing your wardrobe, what do you love to wear and what makes you feel like the best version of you, every time you wear it?

Take notes and pay attention because even if you think you have no style or fashion sense now its in these reflections that you may come to realize you did have it all along! Big things to ask yourself is;

  • What pieces do I always fall back on?
  • What does my real life actually need in the way of clothes?
  • What type of functionality do these pieces need? (to be moveable, comfortable, smart, casual? Etc)
  • What’s my core style foundation? (Do you wear lots of skirts? Dresses or pants/trousers? Etc)
  • Are you a neutrals girl or a colourful girl?

There are a lot of questions but most things will just come up naturally and these things will be really helpful to know in the next stage,

Design, again.

This is where things get fun again! In order to avoid falling back into old habits I suggest making a tonne of lists before even thinking about hitting the shops and in this section I suggest designing yourself your dream wardrobe and this is where things get interesting.

Stage one:

The basics, everyone’s basics are different but this is the core foundation to your style and the first thing you should buy post capsule. For example mine looks like this for Autumn/Winter

  • Two tank tops
  • Two pairs of Leggings
  • Three short/cap sleeved V-neck T shirts
  • One – two jersey pencil skirts
  • A pair of smart work trousers (cropped, cigarette trousers)
  • A cardigan
  • A heavy, warm jumper
  • A great pair of blue jeans in your chosen shape (mine is low rise skinny)
  • A pair of Ankle Boots
  • A great pair of supportive trainers/sneakers
  • One work blouse
  • At least one just above the knee dress

The colours; The easiest way to dress well and make the most of any size wardrobe? Well that’s as simple as choosing cohesive colours! Making sure all your basics follow the same colour scheme means you have a really solid foundation to build upon with any stand out pieces.

Functionality; Before you hit the shops remember one thing. Everything you buy has to fit in and work with your real life, everyday. For example if you work in a lawyers office than buying a load of revealing tops isn’t going to be a good use of your cash or your wardrobe and if you work outside a lot than smart office clothes aren’t going to work for you either! So look at your life and only buy what you need now, there is after all plenty of time to re buy should your life change.

Helpful Rules for spending

Controlling your spending can be a long on going problem and we won’t necessarily have the same ways with coping with budgets. Myself, personally I have a very small budget for clothing, if I’m going to be realistic, at 24 I now know that I need to save more than I spend and that I have dreams and responsibilities which require me to be sensible and purchase responsibly and that affects my shopping choices.

Make sure everything you purchase is;

  • On your list
  • That you can’t live without it
  • That it fits perfectly, now. (Do not buy anything you have to get skinny to fit into!)
  • That it suits your actual frame. (We all like to think we might all be supermodels but your perhaps not, I know I like to pretend I don’t have a large rack but that’s me lying and roll necks will never be cute on me so be real with yourself and that honesty will pay you back with dividends.
  • Buying big names doesn’t give you style and it won’t necessarily make you happy. Remember, you are more than your clothes or hair, if you listen to India Arie.
  • Set a budget and stick to it.

What you stand to gain;

I wrote about this last week so check out the post here+ 

That is I believe most of it I might drop back and fill this in more but the main points are all here! If you have any questions or anything else you want answered just drop a comment below and I’ll even answer you there or add another section up here!

Helpful Posts

there are a lot of links here to make life easier simply search for website for tags as every article is under the heading of, Capsule Wardrobe.

therealjlow, Fashion New Year: Building a Signature Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe: Building on Classics

The Capsule Wardrobe | Part 1

The Capsule Wardrobe | AW 2014

The Capsule Wardrobe | First Week and Shopping Mistakes

Ethical Purging & The Capsule Wardrobe

India Holiday Capsule

India Holiday Capsule Part 2

India Holiday Capsule Part 3

The Capsule Wardrobe | His

How to Maximise your Capsule Wardrobe

The Capsule Wardrobe | Winter 2015

Honest Basics and the Capsule Wardrobe

Why I cheated on the Capsule Wardrobe with my other clothes

Vacation and Packing with a Capsule Wardrobe

Real Reasons why the Capsule Wardrobe will change your life!

Naughty Treats the Healthy Way

Homemade Nutella from Delicious Ella

Naughty treats the healthy way.

When me and Josh decided to try overhauling our appalling post university diets I knew one thing was for certain, if that food wasn’t fun and exciting? Well it just wasn’t going to get eaten and further than that it wouldn’t make our new way of eating, sustainable.

The Delicious Ella Cookbook UK/US

Bow to your cravings

Part of our health shift was that we didn’t want this to be a diet in anyway. This is our long term plan for life and because of this you have to think about how you will give yourself a small break occasionally and you’ll also have to work at making it interesting!

This week it was about working out how to snack, healthier. I am a natural grazer and with a sweet tooth to boot I needed to find a new outlet for these cravings especially while we cut down our sugar significantly!

Josh hard at work we and Ella suggest a food processor! Really, it’s worth it! (do as I say not as I do, right?)

Guidelines

Unfortunately we have guidelines to what we can eat, happily. As a confirmed IBS sufferer and Josh having some symptoms of the same thing there are certain foods I decided to stop eating full time and others which I would minimise because of their adverse effects.

Problem food:

Cow’s Milk, Soy Milk & Cream Milk has never been my favourite thing but more recently my reaction to Cows milk has been gradually becoming more severe. It does not however affect me as much in small doses and being used within other products but I am however trying to reduce all. I am hoping that it may give my body a bit of recovery time which has worked in the past to allow me the odd indulgence without undesirable after effects.Lactose free milk: Soy is also not a good option for me personally however I have found this Lactose free Milk to be a good friend.
Traditional Oils, predominately Olive Olive Oil and I are no longer friends. The fancier the restaurant and the worse you’ll find yourself when it comes to oil use! To reduce this we now only use % fat spray oil and Coconut oil.
Spreads and minimise butter use I’m not a fan of spreads, mainly because I heard as a child that margarine is one step away from being a plastic and that’s always made me question what goes into spread. On that note as well a good friend from work also told me that a nutritionist had told her to never buy low fat anything so here’s to everything in moderation!
Chilli and Spicy foods Oh Spicy food, nice until you’re not. I feel like this fun extra is now thrown in all foods in the UK and quite frankly I’m happy to see it go and try to get some real flavours again which don’t burn in the process.
Uncooked, Carrots, Tomatoes, Apples, Celery, Certain vegetables and fruits have problematic skins which cause to issues for those of us with sensitive stomachs. If you cook them however they seem to be ok so although carrot sticks and humus are out of the picture it’s not a going to limit your five a day!
Alcohol accept: Vodka, Gin, White Rum and Red Wine Clear spirits and I have an understanding but anything with colour is not so good. On that same note I have now found that red wine has the least effects than its white and rose counterparts but for all intents and purposes I am primarily, T-total.
Caffeine Decaf appears to be ok but again in moderation. I have also found that Nespresso is the only caffeinated coffee which doesn’t make me feel terrible! This is likely because its the only brand other than grinding your own beans which doesn’t add unnecessary sugars and syrups!
Take Aways: Including Pizza Hut and Dominos etc, Curry Pizza: In the UK it’s becoming increasingly hard to find food that isn’t laden in spices, chillies and oil. It’s gotten to the point where we are either limited to ‘safe’ restaurants or I have to suffer through margarita pizza again when all I really want is some chicken, creme fresh and spinach! Order from home Pizzas are also off the menu since they are often overly fattening and use large quantities of unnecessary oils (plain Pizza Hut pizza’s I can just about do but dominos etc are a no go! Curry: To minimise spice and milk/cream use I am working on a safe list for those days when all you want is a curry!Chinese: Again with the oil! It’s a tricky business that’s for sure! This is all about choosing the healthier options presented or ones that include your ‘safe’ food. Chow Mein is especially good.
Pre bought sauces: This is not a case of all sauces but there are a lot on the market which use high quantities of fat and more importantly for me milk and oil so it will really be a case of reading packaging thoroughly.
Soft Cheeses (bar blue because I love it too much) Includes everything from brie to soft cheddar. I seem to not be effected by light mozzarella and goats cheese however.
Red Meats Primarily Beef with emphasis on Mince. (we are currently trying out a Quorn substitute – great texture but about zero taste!)
Other Meats Turkey Mince, sausages, spanish meats and others which are high in fat. Most of these can be had occasionally and within moderation.
Fresh Fruit in moderation.  Again with the skins! Nectarines and apples primarily.

I feel like there are things I have missed here but the point is some food just isn’t going to like you no matter what you try. Part of this kick is about repairing our insides from all the being young damage that’s gone on over the years.

How does your tolerance affect your food?

The big one is milk. Straight up milk causes me the most problems but I never want to be complacent. I’m going to struggle to say no to Chocolate full time so instead everything is being reduced. Therefore this weekend we decided to switch up our normal naughty treats and try reducing our fat so say hello to frozen yoghurt and homemade nutella!

Now before you go anywhere near Ben and Jerry’s or out for Pink Berry, not all frozen yoghurt is created equally! In fact many of your favourite go to frozen yoghurts contain just as much sugar and even more additives than normal, good old fashioned Ice cream so beware of store bought Froyo! This Huffington Post article is a great starting point for getting a little more clued up!

However luckily with anything you love when you make it from scratch you can better control your portions and what goes into your treat! We actually used this recipe but we made the main focus on banana rather than using large quantities of Greek Yoghurt and we also swapped out regular milk for lactose free.

Blending up those semi frozen bananas!

Oh Peanut butter you little beaut! We love you! also when it comes to this don’t worry about ‘reduced fat’ I learnt the hard way with this and at work I now have one thats got sugar syrup in it? Gross! For this recipe do substitute! You don’t need all the sugar or regular milk/yoghurt! We used lactofree milk and next time I’ll use probiotic yoghurt! 

Small alterations make big differences

Expensive? yes but it makes all the difference, you need less it makes your house smell like coconut and even better? you can’t taste it! Its perfect!

Making small changes in everyday life makes massive, long term changes. From switching beef mince to Quorn we can now eat non spicy chilli (I know, I know what strangeness is this). While having lactose free milk means I can enjoy milkshakes, drink caffeine free coffee and bulk up smoothies! It’s all about finding a way around your problems and if I can do it, if Ella from Delicious Ella can do it than so can you! It can be a learning curve but it’s all the more exciting trying out so many new things and after all, a tidy, normal kitchen isn’t half as fun . . .

References and Resources

Great food resources for getting back to basics include,

Delicious Ella blog/ book,

Paleo god, Marks Daily Apple (Blog),

While for inspiring food on the go and gorgeous photography I love The Lovely Stars for every day inspiration.

In Text

The Sad, Sad truth about Frozen Yoghurt on Huffington Post

Nutrition Facts Frozen Yoghurt vs Ice Cream

Shutterbean: Peanut butter and banana Froyo

Which is healthier Greek or normal Yoghurt?

Everyday healthy

Whole Heartedly Healthy

Hip and Healthy

Scarf: FatFace (in store sale), Tunic: Long Tall Sally, Sweater: Dorothy Perkins (2006!) Stacking Rings: Accessorize Z Collection – keep an eye out for a little post on this collection! I am absolutely in love!

Thick, goey goodness! More Nutty than chocolatey but all worth it for knowing whats gone into your snack! We are planning on adding this to our healthier froyo!

Chocolate treats and tricks

Chocolate covered Katy

Desserts with Benefits

Update your Capsule Wardrobe with TTYA and Long Tall Sally!

If you’re like me and are rocking the capsule wardrobe then you are probably thinking a lot about spring by now. With the recent spate of good weather (hello sun!) me and Josh have been maximizing our time out in the early sun while we can and while we’re not? Well of course I am looking into the next stage of my wardrobe evolution, getting ready for Spring.

One such range which I was privileged to view early is the Taller Than Your Average range for Long Tall Sally. During LFW I actually attended the brands launch party for #IWASBORNME and ever since I have become obsessed with the brands cooler than cool aesthetics.

The greatest thing about the TTYA’s collections is they are a capsule in on themselves! This springs it’s all about those pretty powder blues, neutral whites and greys with pops of fantastical silver and girls I am in love . . .

I still feel a tad conflicted about my colour palette for spring but I know that I need to get in on this collection so I figured what better a plan than to go through the collection and work out how you guys can wear it for Spring 2015!

Everyday

Amplify your jeans!

These babies are so on trend it hurts and not only that but they mix the patchwork trend with the mom jean, can this get any better? No, I thought not! These are an uber fun way to mix in the everyday classic comfort of jeans with on trend styling! Add in some double denim duty or the ranges oh so sexy leotard and hello we have an outfit!

Off duty model style

In Spring and Summer I love simple, I am naturally a dress and go kinda girl once the sun hits so a great T like this one would work great for those boyfriend jeans and trainer days or smartened up with a great pair of shorts or culottes.

‘boom’

Silver Skirt £85

Silver, love it or hate it, it makes a fantastic impact. If you asked my mum she’d probably think of a silver poncho that still haunts her nightmares whereas for me I think space boots and those metallic bags from a year back and I love it. Guys I love spaceboot style so of course I would gravitate to this. Spring I feel is a great time for the midi skirt just long enough to not get too bitten by the early morning chill but also perfect for twirling in your living room when you get home from work. Josh loves a good twirl you know . . .

Nights out

Where TTYA excel? Its party wear. When I attended the #IWASBORNME party I was able to wear their stunner of a dress, the keyhole maxi. This collection is no exception and I love how classic these clothes are as well as being easily the sexiest transformers available on the highstreet!

The playsuit

Playsuit in White

I loved the playsuit last year but this is a step up. Structured with a low back this is a head turner and I would wear this out on as many date nights as I could convince Josh to go on and of course to go out dancing!

The two pieces

Mesh skirt £65

In the collection there is also a white suit. I kid you not, it’s the sexiest thing I’ve seen but I naturally gravitated to this look. When it comes to Spring and Summer I really want to enjoy not having my legs covered up, as one of my better assets I think it’s important to focus on the parts of you that you love rather than hide them so a great pencil skirt is a must have and the mesh detailing just gives it that added sporting umph which is so in for SS15.

Spotlight Piece

Now as your aware the collection is gorgeous, its wonderful but there is always the one piece where you stop, stare and realise that all your prayers have been answered and that is these shorts.

flippy shorts £30 TTYA for LTS

Whether you are tall, short or you have anything that proves difficult to dress than finding mecca or that piece that will change your world is of vital importance with any collection and TTYA is right on the money with this, their classic black short.

I love a great pair of shorts and I think they are fantastic for tall women as we already have so much leg anyway I think its great fun to show that off. Now add in the fact that these come in classic black and have a looser fit then I think we have hit the jackpot! Speaking about price these are only £30 which is amazing for the type of quality product that TTYA are putting out there! I have their keyhole maxi in black and it truly is the softest most fantastic piece in my wardrobe.

So if you want my ultimate purchase from this collection then it would be these shorts!

For more of the collection check out the Long Tall Sally website for both The Taller Than Your Average range but also for their own gorgeous items!

http://www.longtallsally.com

http://www.tallerthanyouraverage.com

therealjlow goes to Paris!

There is something so fantastic about living in Europe; firstly it gives you the ability to just pop across to so many incredible countries at almost, a drop of a hat and last week we were blessed with a trip to Paris. Taking the Eurostar, Josh was suitably impressed (I think him taking the train was probably his favourite part!) and we barely spent anytime travelling which meant that we got more time to enjoy the delights of Paris.

The highlight was finding the parts of Paris less touched by tourism, such as our walk along the seine which even allowed us to stumble upon Ponts Des Arts bridge as well as another which plays music via bluetooth, now if thats not rock ’n’ roll, I don’t know what is.

Jumper: George, Asda 2013, Bag: Fatboy (freebee from 2009), Watch: Michael Kors, Necklace: Accessorize, Sale, Leggings: H&M basics

The Capsule Wardrobe |

Now, I travelled with a slightly revised Capsule Wardrobe with everything being in my capsule bar one dress, which was bought from H&M two years ago and has been seen plenty of times before on the blog!

The reason for this was that I wanted another dress which went well with this purple jumper above and could be worn in a smarter way for tasty dinners out! On the night I wore this we took a stroll from The Eiffel Tower to the Champs de Elysee where we stopped into an off the street restaurant. Here we ate duck, dauphinoise potatoes and drank a far too large glass of wine which led us to finding who we believe is the French’s answer to Daniel Radcliffe on the Metro!

Fuzzy scarf: Dorothy Perkins, Coat: Next, Shoes: Clarks

The Eiffel Tower

I swear I thought I was going to toss my cookies on the way up and let me tell you its then that being a tall woman who is afraid of heights is only half the embarrassment! Once I was up there however I found my footing and I’m sure with a dab of better weather the view would be spectacular but even with a thick fog I’m proud to say that I was able to reach the top and without taking the stairs!

Impressions

This (below) is the only outfit that I wore and convinced a french gentleman that I too was french. I’d like to think that it was this but it could of course been because I was refusing to speak in any language other than French. This proved to be incredibly confusing for Josh who had to decipher one bonjour, ma petit pois from another. That and I kept saying yes in Italian rather than French, because thats not confusing with a british accent . . .

Scarf: Dorothy Perkins, Coat: Next, Striped Tee: Primark, Waterfall Jumper: George, Asda, Jeans: Zara, Trainers: New Balance

I honestly took a thousand photos of Josh on this trip, I don’t think he was that pleased some of the time, but that could just be because he knows I’m actually building a Josh shrine for whenever he has to go out of town without me, but thats perfectly normal right?

Montmartre

We almost didn’t make it to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre and what a shame that would be! We had fantastic weather which made our view over the city only that more spectacular. Walking up to the top is somewhat of a mission but man are the views worth it!

The Wardrobe |

As it was our last day, leggings where allowed, paired with my Pinterest Challenge look+ This is possibly the most ideal tourist outfit but I will leave that up to you guys to decide!

I need a cure for bobbles also! If you guys have one please let me know cause this is terrible!

Paris overall is truly a beautiful city (best in the sun or rain!) however we had to both agree, Rome however still has the most of our travelling heart so it will be a challenge to see where we can go next!

For other photos check out my Instagram for realtime Paris and of course obligatory Macaroon shots!

Therealjlow | vacation and packing with a Capsule Wardrobe

Can you guess where we are going?

I’m not sure if this is more obvious, but we are going to Paris! As far as Christmas presents go, this might be the best one. Not to mention that it just so coincides with both Valentines Day and our five-year anniversary. Because obviously when you think of Paris you think fashion (or at least I do, closely followed by thoughts of macaroons and French stick) I thought that this would be a great time to do another, capsule wardrobe packing post! Ack! We are going for four days (Tuesday to Friday) so I really wanted to try my hand at packing as minimally as possible. Now with still a week and a half to go some items may change dependent on weather but we will see closer to the time. So as per the capsule I am focusing on keeping a simple colour scheme so each item can be worn as many ways as possible. Lets start with the basics –

  • One pair of leggings
  • One pair of Jeans
  • Two basic tanks in pale pink and black
  • One long sleeved T-shirt in stripes
  • One mid length Black t-shirt
  • One grey waterfall jumper

to see all my capsule items in full check out the original post, “The Winter Capsule: using colour.”

More fun/dressed up pieces – These don’t sound half as fun as they could be but I am really going with simplistic and easy to pull off. I have included the black dress so that when we go out at night I can feel that bit more dressed up!

  • Purple v shaped jumper
  • Fish and Chips T-shirt
  • Black Gap Dress

Shoes –

  • Clarks brogues
  • Workmen boots

Accessories – My accessories are really the fun part of this weeks clothes, I love the blue of this hat and the fun shape of these sunglasses so I am hoping that this will give me the interest that I am looking for in my outfits. I am still on the fence when it comes to my coat choice but either the camel number or my green Long Tall Sally one I think will work wonderfully with all my chosen pieces!

  • Grey and White blanket scarf
  • Purple Leather gloves
  • Yellow knitted headscarf
  • Blue bobble hat
  • Brown plated belt
  • and some gold jewellery I haven’t decided what yet! So keep an eye on Instagram!

Let me tell you guys I am not naturally a good packer, in fact I still have my doubts about what I have laid out. I love the motions of packing, of choosing pieces and thinking of outfits but ultimately when I get to our destination more often than not all that planning goes out of the window, or I stand in front of a suitcase lamenting and complaining that I have nothing to wear. I hope that by choosing to simplify my colours this time round that this may make this holiday more simple but I guess we will only know once we get there! Ack!

Valentines Day.

Valentines day never has to be a big deal. You are either excited for Saturday or dreading its arrival and although either opinion is fine I figured it would be nice to do a small feature on making a fun, valentines meal with minimal fuss.

For our family, Valentines day is more than just cupid in fact its my Sister in Law to be’s Birthday so although we exchange cards, valentines day is always more about celebrating Boo’s birthday and really shouldn’t valentines day be more about celebrating the people you love than a romantic relationships? After all what are anniversaries for?

Over the years I have made many versions of this meal for Josh but at the very heart of it its really a one pot wonder. You start by frying your sausages in a large sauce pan with your onions and then add you other ingredients as you go along. We have made this with regular sausages as above (these have Bramley apple pieces in them as well!) but we have also made them with Chorizo and sweet potato.

For this one above I made it really simple, sausages, apple pieces, leeks and red onion. Everything is cooked in one pot bar the sticky gravy and mashed potatoes which makes it even better!

1 – Fry your sausages and onions together in a large saucepan with a small nob of butter.

2 – Adding liquid stock begin adding your additional ingredients (apple and leeks) once the sausages are lightly browned and your onions soft.

3 – Stew all your ingredients until the leeks turn soft and your sausages are fully cooked.

Then for the rest of your meal you will need to boil your potatoes and begin your sticky gravy once your main pot is gently simmering. I am a small cheat so I used this recipe from Jamie Oliver but its again as simple as frying onions, adding stock and some plain flour.

Now here comes the valentines part have you ever fancied mash potato in a love heart shape? Lets not kid ourselves most of us have made mash potato shapes as children so this is just as fun! and all you need is a cookie cutter!

1 – place your cookie cutter on your chosen plate and dollop a cookie cutter sized lump of mash potato.

2 – smooth the mash potato into the cutters shape with a spatular and then simply, lift!

Voila!

Cheats and tips to make your food look better?

If you boil your green vegetables separately immediately wash them in cold water once cooked. This stops the cooking process and keeps their colour somewhat more fresh.

Jay cloths! Those blue cloths you use for cleaning? They work great when fresh to mop up any spillage  on plates so your design looks neater.

Using a thick gravy or jus? Using a spoon put a dollop on the plate and the drag the back of the spoon through it to create an artful sweep on the side of your plate.

Finally we also made brownies. We followed this recipe  but remember this day doesn’t have to mean that you have to make everything yourself. Brownies from a packet are just as tasty than entirely homemade ones and are a hell of a lot easier! Here are some photos from our brownie journey!

Our favourite Joseph and Joseph measuring cups!

I’d like to show you more but lets be honest bowl licking may have happened and then trying to eat warm brownies straight from the tray happened so we may have gotten a little distracted . . .

#dearsally (Could I just live in your store please?)

I have a secret. I have been leaving shopping baskets all over the internet.

As the three month shopping ban, associated with my Capsule Wardrobe comes to a close I have been scouring the internet, window shopping. Or in this case, screen shopping. I’m pretty sure that I can’t be the only one who does this, right? But added to the fact that I haven’t bought clothes in three months I am also keenly aware that the best excuse for clothes shopping will shortly be upon us, Christmas.

Now if Christmas wasn’t a good enough excuse for clothes shopping, I really don’t know what is. This will be my first Christmas at my parents home since moving in with Josh. Therefore I have spent an extraordinary amount of my time imagining my outfits for each Christmas occasion. Carol singing, Christmas day, shopping (last minute of course.) So to put all my time to good use I have joined Long Tall Sallys campaign, #dearsally to share with you some of my Christmas outfit wishlists!

First up we have Christmas shopping!

Buy Me: 1,2,3,4

This is probably my favourite of all the outfits, most likely because it is so re-mixable and includes such great wardrobe staples with fantastic twists – Cords in a cranberry tile print? yes please! Knee high boots in an ever flattering brown, Yes! and a drool worthy fur lined parka hell yes!

Cranberry Cord Trousers

I am more than into trousers than jeans at the moment and these super soft, cord trousers just fit the bill! In my all time favourite colour of the moment, Cranberry! With their funky tile print these cord trousers are the stuff of dreams! And when shopping I always find its great to wear separates on the off chance that you might find a top you just have to try on!

Navy Blue Eiffel tower sweater

Oh I love thee, let me count the ways. A great sweater is a girl’s best friend. This Eiffel tower sweater has been on my wish list for a while now and makes a great shopping outfit. Easy to pull off when you get hot (I love LTS’s Stretch Cotton Cami’s for great long length basics to wear underneath) while cute and cosy for when you get outside. Not to mention a fun sweater like this is a festive must.

Brown knee high boots

This was a tossup. Boots or trainers? Don’t get me wrong I love a great trainer and in recent seasons they have become uber cute and fashionable! LTS for one have some fantastic metallic pairs but whenever I always tend to pull on boots. They have great support and are great for when it rains (no wet tootsies!) so I would have to go boots for a long day of shopping anytime!

Faux fur lined Parka

Oh my gosh, this coat. It’s a seasonal staple right? I don’t think the classic Parka ever goes out of style and a fur lined one? Well that’s just double the must. By the time December rolls in so does the bitter cold and although in store you might want to wish you didn’t have to wear any clothes at all once you’re walking your treasures home you’re going to thank me for the warmth that this beauty offers you!

The Christmas Party

Buy Me: 1,2,3,4

Christmas parties are the time for great fabrics. During the run up to Christmas I spend inordinate amounts of time wondering through my favourite stores touching fabrics that make me just want to roll around in a pile of clothes all day. There is something sexy about more tactile outfits, a great fur collar or a velvet coat just scream to be touched so this outfit ticks all the bases for a great Christmas party look.

Suede ankle Boots

Suede boots are a guilty pleasure of mine. I try to buy leather boots (far more rain appropriate I may add) but it just never works out. And yet hand me a suede pair of booties and I am sold. These were no different! Add two zips and these are keepers for sure!

Leather Look Pencil Skirt TTYA

Taller than your average has to have created the most perfect capsule collection for tall girls. Now that I am considering my second capsule I have been paying close attention to this incredible brand! Now look at this skirt, faux leather, it has a thigh, high slit towards the front. Is that not the Christmas party dream? Well, if its not I don’t know what is, but I have fallen in love and this my friends, is my new lover.

don’t tell Josh that of course . . .

Stretch Cotton Cami

Another key basic which as a tall girl you can only really get from LTS and TTYA is the stretch cotton cami. This fabulous black Cami keeps your modesty while fully tucked into the sexy leather skirt above gives you curves in all the right direction.

Velvet Devore Longline Kimono

This summer was all about the Kimono! I adored the idea of swanning around the summer months in a light weight patterned Kimono but unfortunately I never found the perfect one. This one however, oh where have you been all my life? Velvet? With Tassels yes please!!! Pulled over the sexy faux leather skirt and T this pulls in an interesting dimension and softens an otherwise provocative look.

Christmas Day

Buy Me: 1,2,3,4

Christmas day with my family is a day for dressing up. Throughout my childhood I remember my aunt and grandma dressing up and so dressing casual on Christmas day has never come all that easy for me when really all I want to be wearing is a dress, possibly with sparkles. However this year I had a change of heart. I am in love with leather and faux leather (could you tell?) but the leather trousers are just not for me. However when I saw this alteration on the classic Camden jean I just knew that this was the Christmas for denim. Add in some velour Ballerinas and a sparkly tee and I present you a smart casual Christmas day look for all of you who want to be smart and festive without having to give up on any of those edible treats!

Velour Almond toe Ballerina

A soft burgundy, this adds that great tactile edge to the outfit softening the edgy leather stripe on the Camden Jean while being comfy if you have to travel away from your home.

Leather look Panel Camden Jeans

The classic tall girl LTS jean is A, uber flattering and B, with the leather look panel this pair of jeans combines comfort and style all in one easy to wear package so you can even say yes to that game of twister! (if thats what you do on Christmas! I have promised my nanna that this won’t happen for us but that I couldn’t promise that there wouldn’t be a family conga line . . .)

Sequin Front Jersey top

Sequins. If you don’t have somthing sparkly on your person than you can’t enjoy Christmas. Thats not a rule or anything but I’m pretty sure it should be.

Textured Jersey Jacket

You want to look good, cute and comfortable in my families Christmas so to have a soft jacket on hand completes my Christmas day outfit. In my current favourite colour this burgundy jersey jacket means its still cuddly while looking effortlessly put together.

Gift shopping!

Buy Me: 1,2,3,4,5

Gift Ideas!

While your out Christmas shopping its always good to buy your loved ones a great Christmas present! I for one would always ask my parents for snuggly pj’s, socks and scarves so in my books there is never anything better than clothes for Christmas!

TTYA – Ripped Skinny Jeans

If you’re going to get someone a gift you might as well go all out right? Right. These are the must have statement piece for winter, taking cues from my mum from her teenage years add fishnet tights underneath for that edgy appeal.

Lloyd Baker across the body satchel bag

Any girl needs a cross body bag. Why? Because it makes that hands free life that much easier (hello texting on the move!) I love my Cross body bags so much, they mean commuting is that much easier and you don’t have to tussle with a falling bag strap when you could be doing something more interesting like trying to read your ipad as you walk!

Removable Fur Boucle coat

Statements, Statements, statements. When buying someone a gift its important to find something that really stands out and shows them that you care. If that’s what you are looking for (aka, I am) this coat is for you, look at that collar girls! Faux fur, you can’t say no to that right?

Georgette spot Shirt

There is nothing cuter than spots. This shirt works great at work and paired with skinny jeans plus polka dots are an all time classic. Do I need to say more as to why you need this in your life?

Gift Card!

When in doubt, buy a gift card. I know some people feel like this is a cop out gift but I always love a gift card as for someone like me who loves going shopping having a gift card means I can get exactly what I want and means I get to come home with a big bag of shopping to open and feel that new stuff feeling . . .

To see what more tall bloggers are in love with check out the campaigns hash tag #dearsally or see what other tall girls love on the brands community page which you can find here+

What are your plans for your festive outfits! link me any ideas you have as I’d love to hear what your thoughts are!

Also next week is the last week on my Fall Capsule! Ack! so this time next week is our last Capsule catch up for this year! Sadness, right?

In the interests of full disclosure this post is in collaboration with Long Tall 
Sally. All thoughts, outfit constructions and ideas are my own. I was however 
gifted one of the looks above in acknowledgement of this article.