therealjlow is back!

no more hiding trjl header

If I had kept count, this is possibly the hundredth, thousandth time of writing this post. I’d written it over and over, and over again until I finally had the one, all neatly tied up on my IPhone. The only problem? I traded it in this weekend – sans iCloud backup.

So now I have a fancy phone but minus this post.

Starting again, here it is, the final version. (I hope)

Why I’m here after so long is to give you an in-email heads up. therealjlow, its coming back.

Finally!

When I left in May a lot of things changed, but as the months moved I still wanted this space. The only issue was, did I want this space in the same way or did I want to make a change?

I decided that a change, ultimately was the best option.

The site as we know it, is about to change. I’ve somehow coerced Josh into helping me make the switch but fingers crossed in a few weeks time the site will be back ( a little revamped possibly) and with its very own domain!

On the other other side I have no idea how much of the existing site is going to come over and whether the email function will stay or not – so while I can I want to make this super simple.

Heres our new domain: www.therealjlow.com (don’t be alarmed – there is nothing there yet!)

If thats not enough for you this is my Insta (lots of travel pics at the moment!) @therealjlow & my twitter handle, @JessicaAbigailL.

So if its too quiet and you think I should have posted something by now, maybe I have and it just hasn’t made it to your inbox – If that is the case keep an eye on twitter – where as normal I will announce every new post swinging your way! (Perhaps multiple times)

In terms of whats going to be appearing on the new site moving forward, the content is going to be a little different and all at once, the same. In essence the site is growing up, moving away from too many simple outfit posts I want this space to encompass more. What that looks like eventually is uncertain, but be certain of something“therealjlow” is back and its going to be good!

Drop me a line if there is anything you want to see!

Speak soon,

Jess

therealjlow got married | Cake tasting

DSC_0435

In honour of the end of The Great British Bake Off in the UK I thought I would rewind the time a little and share some photos of Josh and mines cake tasting back this Summer.

I’ll admit this is not us but those Gilmore Girls but to be honest we took cake tasting and the whole wedding process in the same way that both Lorelai and Rory would.. with a whole lot of humor and a whole lot of cake….

DSC_0439 DSC_0442

DSC_0444 DSC_0424

The lovely Boo, Aka Rebecca Fiedler cake-baking extraordinaire! She may hate me for including a photo of herself but shes beyond awesome and lovely and somehow made the most amazing four tier wedding cake in the entire world! If you follow the link above (there is a strange photo of me there, don’t judge.) but then most importantly the cake! Soon I will hopefully get to share the wedding cake in all its professional photo’d glory!

So I wish I could tell you exactly all I learnt but primarily, I learnt I love cake, a lot! Our final choices were chocolate (I want to say on the bottom layer), the middle was Lemon and the top Carrot and finally a regular Victoria sponge.

Becky, who is crazy talented offered us several options during the tasting including different sponges and icings, all created separately I believe its actually practiced to try the icing first but we were pretty happy mixing and trying different combinations!

The final cake turned out perfect! Becky spent a crazy amount of time perfecting it even waking up at about half four in the morning to make the cream cheese frosting and assembling some of the cakes. She was a complete super star and I have had the most amazing comments from the day as to how wonderful the cake was!

Have you all ever attended a caked tasting? And stay tuned for more cake photos soon!

 

My AW Make up Shake up

My A/W Make up shake up.

If you know me you’ll know one of the things I don’t have to worry about being minimal with, is my make up. I do sometimes wonder whether most are either clothes girls or make up girls since most I know have either loads of clothes or loads of make up and I am definitely a clothes girl.

With that being said I have my set favourites but this AW I wanted to mix it up a little with a little more colour, and more high end products.

Now as you know I don’t have an unlimited budget so the majority of my products and clothes are cheaper rather than expensive however as I have gotten older I have begun spending more on my make up. My reason for this is I’m not buying huge quantities of product and beyond my must haves (foundation + Mascara) if I can’t afford it I don’t buy it. This next October (2016) is a big month for me and Josh as it will be the month that we get married. Because of this I made the decision that rather than having a make up artist for the day I wanted to spend the money on nicer make up and do it myself. Many women may bulk at this idea but for me I do my make up everyday and I’m happy with how I do it. It stays all day and so why shouldn’t I do my own?

So for the next year I am looking into which products take my look from good to perfect. This next week I am trialling the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat foundation instead of my L’Oreal to see whether this is going to really propel the days make up. Along with this I also indulged in my desire for a beautiful berry lip.

Last year I attempted this look with one by Estee Lauder and although I love my Mascara by the brand I found the lipstick to be drying and lacking whereas my pur couture lip colour has always felt so moisturising and indulgent. So because of this I went back to my mainstay picking up this Rouge pur couture matt lipstick in 206.

I’m not a big lets have a pampering fan but it was actually really enjoyable early on a Saturday to have the lovely lady on the stand re do my lipstick and share some of her recommendations from Yves.

So what did I buy? Well I of course bought this beautiful lipstick shade! But I also got Touche Eclat. I have wanted to try this forever and it has been on my make up list for equally as long. What I really adore about spending that little bit more is a, how long make up lasts when you spend a bit more money on it and B, that it feels so light on the skin, it lacks that cakeyness whilst giving perfect coverage and that my friends, is definitely the dream.

Wedding make up is tricky. When I want to feel made up its simple. A red lip, a cat eye . . . it all falls together but wedding make up? It’s more delicate, its pretty it does just enough to make you look good without losing you and that’s something that I am trying to achieve all by myself. How far do I want my look to go, the whole princess hog or keep it simple? The majority of our wedding has been simple so far so trying out these lighter make up looks seems like just the ticket! Now all I need is the perfect lipstick shade to be pretty and fresh without being too unnatural.

The Capsule Wardrobe | Lessons from Moving.

The Capsule Wardrobe | Lessons from Moving

One thing I thought I knew for sure was that the capsule worked well for me and I was no longer in danger of a huge wardrobe of clothes that I didn’t wear. However honestly? I was wrong.

I never realised this until we moved however that what had happened looking back is this, rather than successfully tidying I had actually just tidied it all into more storage options. In our flat we had two wardrobes to start. One in the spare room and one internal closet fitted with two separate rails. On top of this we then had three large Ikea drawers for more clothes and additional boxes for accessories. I could see everything and I threw a lot away so I thought I was cured.

I had separate seasons, I could follow Caroline’s rules, only what I couldn’t see was that I was simple seeing too much. I kept more because I had the space to keep it, space which I don’t have anymore.

The greatest idea behind the capsule is having all you need in the space you have available. In the flat we had a lot of space but in the house we want and have less.

Unpacking.

As we began unpacking clothes the first thing which was shocking was that we had three large packing boxes, two hold all’s and two suitcases. Filled to bursting with our clothes (both of us). On top of that we then had bags, multiple large bags of our shoes and as I faced the first session of unpacking I pulled out forty odd pieces and I didn’t want for anymore.

I have met some truly phenomenal women since leaving high (secondary) school. Women who can keep a hold of gorgeous, one of a kind pieces and recycle them years later and still look out of this world but I know that am not one of these women. Maybe this makes me wasteful and an over consumer but I do still love my clothes but they have their moment, their time. They speak about the year they were bought in, the thing I did in that part of my life but that is where it stops. I’m not a big dweller of the past, instead I am a lover of the future and so bringing back old pieces never work out for me, and I’m ok with that.

So what do I do now? Well its simple I donate more clothes. I pull right back and find the wardrobe I actually wear because turns out after all my worrying that I would have nothing it turns out I don’t wear it all anyway so what’s the point?

Here’s to the future girls! The lighter more of the moment, fun future. I have learnt to shop better now I just need to learn how to dress better!

therealjlow cooks | Caramelised onion, Goats Cheese and Fig tarts

Cook: Caramalised Onion, fig and Goats cheese tarts

Many, many moons ago I worked at a wedding in Surbiton and they served similar tarts to these. Fast-forward four or so years and finally I have recreated these for myself and Josh.

With Autumn fully upon us (apparently we have some arctic storm approaching us?) we of course had to indulge in a little festive cooking and the call on this day was figs!

Now you must bear with me and my kitchen. We have never had the most beautiful kitchen but let me just tell you, our new one? It walked straight out of the seventies and that is not pretty so here goes.

You will need . . .

  • Goats cheese (as much or as little as you want – we used the whole pack – I live with a serious cheese addict – he even stole pieces whilst I wasn’t looking!)
  • 1 Onion per 2 tartlets (we tried to do all four with 1 and it fell short – we used pre packaged caramalised onion chutney to fill the void, yummy but not as good!)
  • 1 pack of puff pastry (I also made these the first week we moved into our doer upper – I have zero time for pastry making!)
  • Butter (I used salted but either is fine)
  • Honey (runny is best!)
  • Figs (we used three – but a pack of four (as we had) would be even better!)
  • Red wine (an additional option for drinking)

First things first you will need to make sure your pastry is at room temperature. Even refrigerated it can be too cold which when you roll it out can potentially crack. Something you don’t want! So unroll your pastry and gently use your rolling pin to make it stretch out that little bit further!

With your new, flatter pastry divide the piece into four. As a messy, fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl I haven’t minded odd shapes and uneven squares (however you can always make these perfect). I’m also the girl who always failed home economics because my counters were messy so be prepared . . .

Having divided the pastry into four pieces, now is the time to fold the corners in order to keep the filling in. I achieved this by once again roughly folding up the sides and then placing them on a baking tray. I choose to pre cook my pastry. To do this its best to place baking beads within the centre of your pastry (to minimize it rising where you don’t want it) however because we hadn’t kept ours because of the move I ended up re flattening the insides once baked. Bake this until cooked through but don’t worry about a golden sheen however you can have already baked this with an egg wash (I forgot entirely, doh.) Bake these pastry tarts for roughly 7 minutes.

Whilst cooking we need to assemble the filling. That means cutting the goats cheese into equal slithers, cutting figs into sections and frying off 1 onion per tart in a mix of butter and honey to achieve a tasty and caramelised look and taste.

Once baked, it is as simple as assembling your tarts. You can organise this in anyway you like including mixing your goats cheese with honey and smoothing this across the pastry base. I, however choose to place slices of goats cheese first before layering five to six fig slices per slice and topping off with our onion and a generous drizzle of honey.

Your final bake (or grill) can take up to ten minutes. The key is to keep an eye on your tarts, your pastry is already pretty much cooked so what you need to look for is your goats cheese melting to your ideal without the pastry burning around it (same with your figs.)

I didn’t worry about this too much since I know Josh adores goats cheese in any form (in fact he stole a lot before the process even began!) Also note that these taste great warm from the oven to cold the next day! We had ours for lunch on the Monday, cold and they were perfect! So good for easy and yet fancy work day lunches!

Make a small treat feel like a big treat!

It is now officially a year until our wedding. Cue screams you for excitement and me in horror since I feel seriously un prepared but then again maybe I’m just doing the old school wait till the night before to get everything done but lets hope not!

Anyway because of this we realised we really needed to get ourselves back onto the health and fitness track which since we were moving had gone completely out of the window!

So its clearly not enough to just join the gym (apparently you have to go to? Horror.) but we also wanted to overhaul our diets as well! So as you might not know I love myself a snack and in particular I have a hugely sweet tooth. Now if there is one thing that can derail a diet it’s a sweet tooth!

Now, I had completely forgotten this trick which I believe I stole from my grandparents and that is to use a small spoon. Who would have thought that something could be so simple but which works really well and even worked after photographing this fruit bowl!

What I love to do and what I have done above is take a smaller portion of fruit than normal. I choose four medium strawberries, six (slightly large) raspberries and a handful of blueberries and for the naughty bit a tiny amount of chocolate drops. The next thing to do to make your snack or in my case breakfast to go further is to cut any big fruit down! So each strawberry I managed to cut down into about four to five pieces which meant that four became twenty! And cut my raspberries in half! So you have immediately made your snack double in size! Then put them into a small bowl and there you have it a snack twice the size of what it actually is! Then of course I had to add a couple of chocolate drops since it was the weekend after all!

You’ve already made your snack look bigger than it is but to add to that then make your spoon as small as possible! Why does this work? Because you can’t fit as much on one spoon it takes you longer to eat. If there is one thing you are doing wrong when eating it is this, you don’t pay enough attention to the food your eating and you eat too fast.

This is pretty much the most helpful thing that you can do when you’re trying to be healthy and that is stretching out the food you want to eat. Also if you eat for longer it gives you time for your body and brain to catch up and tell you that you are in fact full! Which can take up to twenty minutes.

So there you have it! The easiest way to make a small amount of mostly healthy food go further! Another steal from my super grandparents is crumbling a meringue over fruit for an evening dessert or adding a probiotic yoghurt to the mix which is also great for those of you suffering with IBS!

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!

The first steps in minimalism

Embracing minimalist theories has been both an eye opening and scary experience and since myself and Josh feel that we are living in a cave full of stuff with nothing that we really use we have decided to apply a few of those principals to our home. Now in the past when we have decided to have a clean-up we have always approached this room by room. We will say oh, lets clear up the living room! We start with drawers, we go through the stool and as we go along you’ll often find things slipping through the net. Oh yeah I definitely need these art supplies I’ve not used since sixth form art class! Or yes, I need all 200 CD’s (god forbid you put the ones you love on Itunes and move on!). I know I am a collector, I know I collect so really although this works well enough, it doesn’t work well enough to really achieve the results we want.

So instead we are approaching the throwing differently. This time we have started making lists of all the things we need that we can name from afar. So now if you saw me on the train you’ll probably find me hurriedly writing lists on my ipad! Why we are doing it this way? Well it brings me back to minimalism and the thing that started all this, The Capsule Wardrobe.

When you plan your first capsule wardrobe, you choose what you can’t live without! In this case it’s the idea of if you need to save something from a fire, what would it be? With this in mind it does make you double think things, for example on the whole there are two of us in our house so why do we need and have 10 coffee mugs? It’s so unnecessary for two people who could of course just wash up their cups!

So here goes scary! Dividing down our previously packed house to minimal possessions is gonna be pretty petrifying but worth it in the long run, a nice fresh start! Even better? A chance for a little bit of cohesiveness! for once . . .

Make things easier on yourself.

White T-shirt: Zara, Jeans: Zara, Gold Plated Necklace: Accessorize, Z Collection, Metal and Fabric Bracelet: Joules, Hitchin

This is not a usual post for me but as we move through 2015 I think the reasons behind posts like this might become a little clearer but today I wanted to take the focuses off of how to wear certain Capsule pieces and instead take a quick second to focus on New Years resolutions and in particular, “Making things easier on myself and in turn on yourself”.

If you haven’t heard of Living with Intention and Jess Lively then today is the day that I get to introduce you. So Jess is a blogger, she’s been a jewelry designer, a business consultant and now she focuses on her blog and business, “Living with Intention: Designing a life & Business with Intention” which gives women like ourselves help and guidance on all things from running your own business, your career, family, motherhood and even lifestyle brands and popular blogs through podcasts, advice and interviews with herself and other women who are making their own way in the world.

I have been listening to her weekly podcasts on my ipod for a while now but last weeks one really hit the button for me and I really wanted to take this post to share it with you and how it ties into my NY resolution of, making things easier on myself.

Small Biz Fears, Struggles and Doubts with Becky Murphy, Jess Lively.+

So although this podcast really focused on the struggles with starting a new business and the behind the scenes, less glamorous side of business you really can take this podcast away and put it towards your own life, whether that is your career, motherhood or even just a personal struggle you’re currently going through.

My biggest take away from this post is this; we all want after different things and often when we don’t get the things we think we should have gotten we go straight to beating ourselves up over this perceived failure when in actual fact we should be focusing in on how its the accumulation of all these near misses that we are taught that we are more than the things that we think we should have. Furthermore often life doesn’t give us what we really want until we are actually ready for them. Whether thats by luck or because we are somehow subconsciously not ready for it and sabotaging our own efforts its important to step back, look at ourselves and say yes this is OK! I am more than what I have and I will get to where I am going eventually, and at my own speed.

This was really a massive learning curve for me this last year as I learnt to let go of these perceived failures and instead I am now trying to focus on appreciating myself for who I am now and putting faith in, it will happen when you are really ready for it to happen which is not necessarily now or exactly when you want it but you will get there.

This really is a great little podcast, I often listen to it on itunes but I also sometimes listen via my ipad at lunch so take a listen if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or left behind as I promise you this really is an up lifter!

P.S are you just loving my strange mix of DVD’s/Books/Magazines over there? haha I swear I do live with Josh even if you can’t see the stacks of graphic novels all over the house! But on that note who else got completely addicted to Smallville back in the day? We are currently re watching from the beginning and let me tell you its been incredible!

Fair Weathered Running and Fears

DSC_0343

Simple Summer Sunday: Jumper: Dorothy Perkins (oh, so old) Next alternative, Tee: H&M Basics, Skirt  (£1 fish of a skirt) Similar, Flats: New Look

DSC_0381DSC_0344

It’s that time again folks, its exercise season. I know this because a, I am definitely packing winter weight like an animal that hibernates and B, because I almost got run over by five consecutive runners on the way home last night. And in the dark, over a high level bridge it can be pretty scary. It was almost like being roped into a flash mob. (That’s like a major nightmare of mine, along with people dressed up as Disney characters – *shudder*).

But yes, there are people like me getting fit all over the place! Fair weathered exercisers. I’m personally taking it slow – as in crawling almost backwards through the local pool a couple of times while I wait to get back on that bicycle! It’s just no fun with snow (re: floods) on the ground!

Not so mellow yellow

DSC_0216

 

Jumper: Gap (sale – my favourite word), Black Pencil Skirt: H&M (old as time but I know stores like Dorothy Perkins do these kinda things!) Black bag: Primark (my 2nd) Yellow Flats: New Look

DSC_0245 DSC_0221 DSC_0219

 

I’m on a mission. A colour mission. I may have  mentioned this before but back in university my wardrobe considered off four colours, black, white, red and navy. Don’t get me wrong this made dressing pretty easy and let me be pretty put together at all times, but you know what else? It was incredibly boring. Yep you heard that right, dressing, boring? so incredibly boring.

So as I do I set out on a mission to not only focus on better quality (less cheap bulk buys – le sigh) but to also make sure that each piece can both fit in with my wardrobe and be well loved and remixed but to also be at the same time completely different!

I am really trying to not only inject some much needed colour but to also add patterns and interest and I hope with paying that little bit more that I will also get some more textures and often its the little fancy extras on a piece of clothing (like a little bit of velvet covering the seems) that just adds to that wow I feel good factor! and who doesn’t want that?