Insta – catch up.

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What better a way to catch up than over Instagram?

I have a deep, love-hate relationship with Instagram. When I first caught the insta-bug I loved how real the photos were, I loved following my favourite bloggers even if it was just what they bought from target, or a good old fashioned fitting room outfit post, those are the posts I think we all love.

The downside however, is once one person has a picture-perfect Instagram its kind of hard to swim against the tide. My own is sketchy at best but its also greatly helpful for us catching up again after so long!

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Lined up once this site is all polished are plenty of travel posts (I may have finally mastered hot weather packing – from trips to Italy & Malta). Along with that, this summer we’ve been experimenting with our garden – from being black fingered to green there are plenty of vegetables that we have somehow grown!

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If anything, the last few months have been about living primarily. Without a constant stream of blog content to write I’ve been able to spend more time reflecting and taking the time to actually live in my outfits rather than just recording them!

Its made me think long and hard about content beyond a stereotype flat-lay and about the brands behind the lifestyles we want (brand spotlights) to how clothing has the potential to change how we feel, or create an identity for ourselves! I’ve also read more on closet building, thought more on my spending habits and even how I can be a better consumer in the face of fast fashion.

I think the key to living out of an instagram account is finding what truly matters and giving yourself space to build a true persona, rather than a public face and its this type of content you will get to see on the new, re vamped blog – less contrived and a lot more real!

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Until then there is still plenty to see on Instagram and catch up on the last few months before we dive head first into the new! Now if only I could have a well formulated Instagram, that would be great! Anyone have any tips?

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.


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: (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,


26 and The September Reset |Lessons Learnt


I’m a tad unwilling to let go off the September fresh start. After all Autumn and my birthday mean that this is my favourite season. In response to that for my birthday I wanted to share some off the cuff lessons of being 25 and the horror which has been 2016 so far. (Also new year now? My wedding is safe in the new!)

– Sometimes you have to strike out on your own.

– Not everyone will understand your art or your vision.

– Josh is quickly learning all about pest removal. As proven by the manic five o clock wasp spraying.

He’s also great at removing stubborn house spiders. Thank heavens because I’m still petrified.

– Commuting is harder

– “Be careful what you want because you might just get it” What if you only got what you really wanted? Would that finally explain continually not getting what you don’t?”

– As Beyoncé says, only you can make yourself happy. Spend time loving and understanding yourself.

– Say what you mean, ask for what you need.

– Get to the point

– Unselfishly put yourself first

– You’re worth more than this.

– It doesn’t have to be so hard.

– You’ve been braver, learnt to be wiser, now be bold, be brave again.

I don’t think that 2016 has been necessarily easy in any respect. If anything, I feel as though I have been battered and bruised and in more ways than celebrity deaths and brexit. The most interesting part of it all has been the further from easy I’ve been the more I came back to a place of great learning, of unexpected wisdom and a backbone of truth.

It’s not been all highs and success but in finding a place of centred love and respect. It’s been a year of tough growth, of hard lessons all of which have reopened the doors to my own pschy and inner voice. I’ve beaten myself up a couple of times but I’ve also taught myself to consider, to listen beyond the bullshit and others opinions and when I least expected it saw myself as an adult for once. As a decision maker, as someone who is able to be calm and deal with it, get over it, not focus on the me me me. I’m in the right place for getting married as my authentic self, my child self, teenhood, young and adult self all converge into one.

I’m choosing to step backward, to be brave for once. Im tired of holding myself back when there is better, there are achievements which need and will be met.

Speaking recently with my good friend and motivational speaker Adam Tuffnell I mentioned how, “it seems impossible not to have some blinding brilliance come out of a slog of a year like this!” And I wholeheartedly believe that for all of us. I know we are split all over the world and not going through the same things but the community I’ve seen here for me ages 25 has been beyond encouraging and inspiring. I feel like i have met some truly incredible men and women this year who have shifted my mindset, proved me worthy, and supported me in so many, unexpected ways.

I have a lot to be grateful for as I turn 26 and a lot to look forward to. On the top of my list of course is to finally follow my grandmas saying to the full, the time for living is now.

And isn’t it just?

Fashion | A ‘shorts’ story

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Do you know what proved to be a difficult piece of clothing to buy? Shorts.

What should have been a ‘short’ story (haha) was in fact endless, almost a year in fact. The factors against me was firstly I’m an apple shape so I wouldn’t say that shorts are necessarily the most flattering but secondly I had to go through the trends none of which were particularly flattering.

Last year I thought a great equaliser would have been the boyfriend short. In distressed denim I thought they would be good to equal my top heavy shape. Instead they didn’t work on my skinny legs and so the fit was supremely odd looking.

In all honesty I gave it up for a bad egg last year. My other issue was with being tall, shorts have a tendency to look indecent. If your shorter or petite, shorts work to your advantage as they can make your legs look endless, I don’t quite have that problem.

This year I took another tact. I went back to the form fitting ones and also high waisted. I’m kind of in love with high waisted jeans at the moment. I have a feeling that by Autumn I’ll be on the look out for another pair of high waisted jeans to fill that gap. In the meanwhile however, shorts!

I decided that this year I was also going to have a pair in denim and a soft loose pair. So knowing that I love new look jeans I went there for their high waisted shorts, looking for those with the slightly longer legs (although i’d still consider these hot pants!) and secondly I went looking for a patterned pair as well.

With one pair down I did not expect to find the second so easily but then I was in Sainsburys (supermarket) of all places when I saw them. A highly patterned pair of culotte shorts (who knew that that was a thing?). I think worn with a fitting shirt and maybe my new long armless jacket would be perfect and can be dressed down with sandals or up with heels.

Fashion | A season of style, an introduction


I keep reading about them, I keep seeing them, I keep on wishing for one. A uniform.

When I see a perfect outfit of normcore I’m wracked with envy, how has she done that? Looked so effortless and polished… I bet she didn’t struggle to put her clothes on this morning!

I believe now that I only, ‘think’ that I want a uniform.

The problem with things being uniformed is that they struggle to lead to any outlandish expressions and as you might remember from forever ago, I dress to my mood. I dress to an inner artist and she works from shapes, not colours and certainly not what might traditionally suit a six foot, plus size woman. If I told that inner artist that she had to colour within the lines (never my forte) she’d most likely stomp her feet, scrawl on the walls and would I be happy?

For a while perhaps, until the glitter wore off.

Instead I want to challenge you to create something different, I want you to consider how you dress as being a season of style.

The idea sprung from thinking about a post on designing a capsule wardrobe.

Recently I had been worried about my house. I went through it quickly to start and sometimes I worry, “what happens when the house is complete?”. For some that is the dream. To have a complete house, to feel whole, it’s enough. This I would consider to be happiness with an end result.

My inner artist, whether she’s pulling clothes or painting skirting boards isn’t happy with ‘content’. I realise this and so seasons came around . . . What if the way I wear my clothes is not a fixed, forever uniform but instead a season . . .

What do you think? Are you up for a season of style?

therealjlow | Be Brave.

This is the scariest of all blog posts to write and publish ever.

I feel nervous and scared and like I might never make it back here but for some reason I also know that this is a necessary step in my growth, the blogs growth and in mine and Joshes health.

As you know this summer was taken over by house drama.

From having a landlord literally pull the rug from with under our feet, to the struggle, which is purchasing a property. We didn’t stop this summer, not for one second and now as the nights draw in I know in my heart that that was somewhat of a mistake.

On top of all this I really wanted to finally overhaul the blog. I wanted to pull it in the direction, which is important to me. Which is helping women like me see how they can live the life they want on the budget they’ve got without the limitation we so often feel is placed on us.

What I hadn’t thought about however, was how me as a person affects this blog content.

Last year the blog was highly driven by the ideas behind a capsule wardrobe and I loved them and I had the time to dedicate to their development but honestly with a new house, new responsibilities both at home and at my day job the blog (I feel) is suffering.

I had to ask myself a big question last Sunday morning and that was this, can I offer girls in my situation help when I’m not really giving it to myself (and my husband to be)? Can I create great content when I’m strapped for time and feeling overwhelmed? No, I can’t and you and I deserve the time and we deserve space from all those external influences that hurt us and to do that I need to take a break.

I have bounced back and forth on this, do I go the whole way until 2016 do I do a weekend and I think the reality is sporadic posting.

If you’ve ever read a book on how to blog successfully you’ll read consistency, consistency is key! The only problem with that is sometimes you have four days worth of content and sometimes you have none and what I want to avoid is that panic, last minute content that you’re not happy with. So I will keep the days I post on now (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday) and keep the same content on those days but whether I have content for that every week will be the kicker.

So for you guys what does that mean? It means that likely it will be like that until December. I do have plans for Halloween, a friends Christmas, some food posts and I know that I won’t realistically be able to stay away from outfit photos and fashion thoughts, I just don’t want to have to feel as if I have to get content out. I will keep to the same posting as well so personal style posts are on Monday, fashion thoughts and shopping on Tuesday, food on Wednesday and house/wedding/make up/the business of blogging and beauty on Friday!

Behind the scenes don’t think I will just be resting. I will still be busy planning content getting ahead of myself and working out realistically how I can turn this blog from a to simply, I’ve been looking into Bluehost and so I could really do with your guys help and thoughts on how to make this switch as cheaply and as pain free as possible!

I’m also going to be keeping a beady eye on the best and most unobtrusive way to introduce sponsors and advertisers simply to pay for that hosting cost so if you’re a girl whose taken that on and hasn’t turned their blog into full on advertising central I want to know!!!! One of the things that annoys me the most about certain blogs is when they turn into a full on advertising platform. They introduce ads in the middle of posts and I just hate it. On the otherside I also do not like this trend for Old Navy sponsored posts. Why do these girls (who more than often don’t ever wear stuff that cheap) completely overhaul their blog for this? I just don’t feel that several posts a week for one brand is a good representation of your blog in general but also we all know you don’t wear that? I don’t know it just bugs me and I think if it bugs me, its going to bug you guys and that just goes against the grain for me! So leave all your thoughts below on that!

But back to my decision, the next few months are going to be about only the stuff I really, really want to share with you all! It’s going to be seasonal and I hope exciting! I also think that this will give me the time to really refine the message that I want to give and just be better.

So here’s to the next phase of therealjlow! And don’t forget I am all over social media so pop by, say hi! Talk to me about how you like blogs working, about advertising hate, content preferences, you name it tell me I want to hear!!!!



Therealjlow on snapchat (I have a creepy moving eye – its all kinds of strange)


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 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!

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!


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!


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?


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!

Florentines by Rebecca Fiedler

Basic (Slightly adapted) Florentine recipe;

Florentines by Rebecca Fiedler

Being someone with zero blogging experience, I must admit that when Jess suggested I write something for her blog I was slightly daunted by the prospect, but it’s something I’ve been meaning to get started on for a while and have, as usual, procrastinated over so maybe this is just what I need!

However, as Jess’s blog is mostly centered around clothes (and while I admire her discipline immensely!) my wardrobe could not be further from the organised, easy to co-ordinate paradise that hers is… SO instead this post is about baking which is something I’m actually (sort of) good at.

These Florentines are a favourite of both my mum and my aunty. They’re surprisingly simple to make but still complicated enough that you feel pretty pleased with yourself when they’re done! I’m pretty sure that traditionally they’re a Christmas food but I make them all year round anyway. 

I use a recipe from BBC Food online but I tend to change it ever so slightly by leaving out the sour cherries and baking it as one big sheet, then covering it with chocolate, letting that cool and cutting it into squares, instead of making round biscuits. 

For a 15×10” baking tray you’ll need;

4 tbsp Butter

150g golden Caster Sugar

4 tsp Plain Flour

150ml oz Crème Fraîche

200g Flaked Almonds (toasted)

4 tbsp Candied Peel

4 tbsp crystallised Stem Ginger

100g dried Sour Cherries

400g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I use two large Bournville bars)

I usually start out by weighing out everything I need, setting the oven to 180°c and lining a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Quickly toast the almonds by spreading them out on a sheet of baking paper, covering them with a little oil (I use groundnut oil) and putting them in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they begin to brown. Then put the butter, sugar and flour into a small saucepan to warm through on a low heat until the butter melts and the sugar and flour dissolve into the melted butter. (Take care not to heat the butter too much; it should be just warm enough to melt)

Next add the Crème Fraîche, stirring continuously until well combined and after that add the almonds, candied peel and ginger (I add quite a lot!) and cherries. Stirring well again until everything is mixed in. Once this is done, turn off the heat and empty the contents of the saucepan into the baking tray, spreading the mixture flat. (I like to keep the edges a bit thinner so they crisp up and get chewier) Once your mixture is on the tray it goes into the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown,

Once cooked, set it on a wire rack to cool down. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes before boiling a little water in the bottom of a saucepan. Put your broken chocolate into a Pyrex/heatproof bowl and the rest the bowl over the boiling saucepan (be careful that the bowl doesn’t touch the boiling water).

Keep stirring this until the chocolate is completely melted.

Then check that the biscuit is completely cool and, if it is, transfer it to a large chopping board and pour the melted chocolate over, using a spatula or palette knife to smooth it over. Leave it to set for a few minutes and then use a fork to trace lines into the chocolate. Leave to cool/set completely.

Finally, cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of tea!

Easy Stripes

Shirt: Matalan, Jeans: New Look (2012) Flats New Look (2013)

Do you know how long I have been searching for a breton stripped shirt? Forever, thats how long. I found this one in Matalan, its not the most perfect fit unfortunately but it will do the job for now at least.

It seems like every time I find something that I really want to add to my wardrobe it becomes suddenly unavailable on the high street, on the internet . . . and how does that happen? I always used to think that maybe I was just ahead of the times but when your looking for a classic piece and can’t find it? Well maybe I’ve just fallen into a trend and haven’t even realised it! I hate it when that happens.

What piece are you guys looking for this spring/summer to make your wardrobe ‘complete’ but haven’t found yet? Lets share the searching love and leave a comment below for other readers and myself to see if we can find it for you. After all whether its a classic stripe shirt, a pair of patterned flats or the dream handbag its not just a want, sometimes its a need right? So lets see if we can find it ’cause lord knows spending months on one item with no luck stops being so ‘fun’ after a while. . . .

Therealjlow . . . bakes?



We also like them messy and are too impatient to let them cool. But maybe thats just me!

We made this monster the other week and it was a bit of a on the spur of the moment style bake. Firstly I was only going to make a victoria sponge (with butter cream and icing sugar on top obviously its the only way I like it) but then we decided we wanted to make it chocolate but of course in making it chocolate we also wanted to keep it simple. So we used this recipe, now I’m also not a particularly precise baker or even as a cook, I like things fast and messy. In fact in food tech I was always being told off and docked points for a messy work space (why this meant the food was bad I’d never know!) So normally I would just dock flour for chocolate powder so its perhaps drier than this cake but I never minded. Anyway, this time I went all out and followed the recipe . . .


It was a pretty moist cake in the end and really did well for being left in the fridge for a week to remove some of the sickliness but I was pretty impressed by my first ever chocolate, chocolate cake. The interesting bit came to the filling of course! Strawberry jam? Too plain! So on went the cherry jam! Of course if you’re having cherry jam why not go the whole hog right?


Right. So we added a little bit of gateaux into the mix! Via the Hairy Bikers+ only me being me I didn’t exactly follow that recipe too well either. See I wasn’t too keen on the just whipped cream as filling or the sour cherries so I went and found this recipe+ and added icing sugar to the cream as well cherry brandy so we ended up with a rather nice cherry brandy cream filling! Never the one to be outdone however I decided to add something else . . .


Brandy infused cherries.

See this is why I’m not allowed in the kitchen too often I make over the top sickly concoctions which involve several recipes and me forgetting to set any type of timer and making it up as I went along. On the plus side I didn’t cut or hurt myself this time which is a vast improvement on the knuckle cutting of late March.

To make the mess above all you need is the chocolate cake recipe from here+, the cream from here+ and for the cherries leave them in a bowl over night (at least) to soak in cherry Brandy topped up with juice from the jar.

And who knows maybe you too could add something equally crazy in the mix that’ll work just as well!

Keep an eye peeled for my new favourite dress, a fall back blazer look and maybe a small post on my new white bag! . . .