26 November 2015

A Countdown Less Ordinary

Credit to Not On The Highstreet for the title, which might give a little clue as to where this post is headed...! We've all done the Cadbury's countdown, we've all coveted the beauty boxes, but what about something a little less conventional?

I've seen a lot of blogmas posts sharing the "alternative" advent, mostly from a beauty/fashion angle. Don't get me wrong, I love a good lipstick or six as much as the next person! However, I'm not going to go down that route because:
  1. I'm no lifestyle magazine - nearly all of them have run a feature on this! Zoella also did a post.
  2. Beauty calendars can be very expensive.
  3. They could put you off buying makeup for the next century.
So what makes a calendar less ordinary? Well, in a nutshell: quirkiness, quotes and festive cheer  - all tied up with tinsel and tea... Finally, as Briony the Elf would say: there's always time for a bow! 

You can never have enough sacks 
1. Scandic-Style mini bags, Peppermint Fizz, £27    2. Advent Pegs, East of India, £17  
3. Little House Advent, The White Company, £20    4. Advent Calendar Bags, The White Company, £7.50
1. Advent Muslin Bags, Gold Tinsel Shop, £30  
2. Treasure Hunt Advent,  Fitzjohn & Stone, £24    3. Vintage Advent Pockets, Fitzjohn & Stone, £45
 Paraphrasing a little quote from Dumbledore, because what's Christmas without Hogwarts? I love the idea of "fill-your-own" advents. We have done this with crackers for a few years now, and I can assure you it's a lot better than plastic lips. It also provides a new opportunity to celebrate with others. For crackers we do it like Secret Santa, which can easily work for this! You could do it with a friend/sibling, setting a budget or even making your own gifts. I love the idea of printing out quotes for each day, maybe even homemade biscuits - although I'm sure Lindor would go down a treat. The treasure hunt idea (2) also has so much potential - from parent-child to couples, create an Advent-ure!   

I wish you a merry woofmas and a happy book year
1. Dog Calendar, Lily's Kitchen, £10    2. Dog Advent WreathHouse of Bath, £23.50  
3. Bookshelf Advent, The Bodleian Library, £5    4. Tolkien Advent, The Bodleian Library, £5
As the third child/sister of the Harrison clan, it will come as no surprise that Millie has her own advent. That reminds me, I need to triple check with dad that it has been purchased... if not, I may just have to buy and post this House of Bath wreath for her! The tail wag would be unparalleled.

I was really disappointed at the lack of Literary calendars out there - so much so that I'm quite persuaded to set up an Etsy shop next year! How amazing would a postcard set of 24 poems be? You could hang up one everyday until you have a whole wall of literary bunting... Wow. The Bodleian Library saves the day with its bargain book offerings. Mum got me the bookshelf calendar last December but, this year, I have fallen in love with the Tolkien equivalent: "Uncover 24 delightful drawings by JRR Tolkien, selected from a series of letters sent to his children." Just like a hobbit, don't underestimate this calendar based on its size! 

    Twas the month before Christmas and we found a house
1. Wooden Christmas Tree Calendar, Fortnum and Mason, £85    2. Reindeer Head Advent, Tesco, £35  
 3. Calendar BlockDibor,
 £12 4. Reindeer Countdown, Pink and Turquoise, £11  
5. Nordic House Advent, Harrods, £60 
Before you gasp at the price tag, here me out! I absolutely adore the idea of a permanent calendar. When I was little, we had a 4D miniature christmas tree calendar that you decorated each day of advent. I did try to find it online but I think it's a bit of a 90s relic! When I have kids I will definitely be investing in one of these. I do quite love the Tesco reindeer head; it's so quirky but that only adds to the appeal! Remember, it's all about the christmas less ordinary... 

Advent by any other name would smell as sweet
1. Reindeer Advent Carousel, Yankee Candle, £32    2. Advent Candle, Vinegar Hill, £6  
3. 12 Days of Christmas, Lush, £50 
I couldn't resist a bit of beauty, although in this case it's about smelling like a christmas rose. I've seen the Yankee advent around on the blogosphere and I can see why; the packaging it divine! Its a decoration in itself, although what's inside sounds equally wonderful. I think the advent candle is a brilliant - albeit risky - idea; surely you'll have to watch it like a hawk?! The Lush Advent is shaped like a book, need I say more? 

A partridge in a pear tea
1. Advent TeaVictoria Mae Designs, £19.50    2. Wooden Tea Advent, Fortnum & Mason, £125  
3. Festive Countdown, ArtfulTea, £15    4. A taste of ChristmasPostTea, £27.50  
5. Christmas Tea Advent, Harrods, £12.95
Oh christmas tea, oh christmas tea. I saved the best 'till last, and I still have a whole post on "12 Day of Teamas" scheduled for next month... The idea of advent tea is pretty genius, not least because the actual tea bags are perfect alternatives to bunting! The Fortnum tea house might have jumped to the top of my lust list. The packaging is perfect, their tea election is the whole package. Simply put, I'm rocking around the christmas tea and I show no sign of stopping. 

* * *

As I wrote this post, I realised there are probably many DIY options to explore too! So I went to consult the angel Pinterest and she guided me towards some very bright stars:
  • Christmas is for sharing: I love this idea for daily acts of kindness. It's a wonderful counter to this ever-commercialised season. Take time to remember the true meaning. 
  • Let it Grow: Plant pots! This might be my favourite idea yet. Pop a packet of seeds into each one, plant a flower each day - you can also do it with family and friends. Possibilities are endless! What better way to close the year than look forward? 
  • My Christmas Tree: Nostalgia for my countdown companion  is clearly strong, because I was determined to find a good DIY advent tree! This one at A Beautiful Mess ticks a lot of boxes. 
  • Merry Quotemas: My love for motivational memo is no secret (see Instagram/ Twitter/ Facebook/ this blog/ my room...), so it was only natural I would fall head over heels for Advent quote bunting. I think I might have to run with this idea now...
  • Poppy Loves did a brilliant round up of beautiful and unique ways to countdown christmas. 

What would be your alternate advent of choice? 

Could you branch out from the Cadbury countdown?

19 November 2015

Fall InstaLove

After sharing some of my favourite Instagram accounts in September, I felt it was about time to bring you some more... The date destination for these InstaLove affairs? Autumn! It's the season of my birth and the advent of falling leaves, duffle coats, cinnamon spice... Autumn is pretty much a gift in itself. I've compiled a list inspired by a few of my favourite things - so books, leaves, tea, leaves clothes... I'll leave the end to you. For now, lets's start connecting

 If you have yet to discover the world of IGReads, Bookstagram, BooksandTea (a personal favourite) then, to put on my best Mrs Weasley voice.... "where have you been?!" If the answer is "browsing the #fblogger and #foodporn tags/stalking Kendall Jenner's account", try turning a new leaf today with these opening pages... 

Crime of Rhyme is "comfort reading", with blankets, books and tea falling into picture-perfect place.

Layla K shares her favourite reads on a white background with a cosy twist - nothing says autumn comforts quite like reading in bed. The frequency of Harry Potter also gets a lot of brownie points.

 Books and teacups uses the #selfcare hashtag, which is already a winner in my eyes. The feed is beautiful but also refreshingly real, detailing everyday life under and behind the filter. Book quote captions are often included, as are delicious looking bowls of porridge and soup - fall necessities! 


Tea cosy and woodland ready, these accounts scream "Autumn in a nutshell". Their words are also as inspiring as the photos they caption - just visit the first account to see...

Susanne Waglen has such a refreshing outlook on life, valuing the smaller things that so often pass unnoticed. Her photos and words capture this wonderfully, plus her clothes the epitome of Autumn!

Lauren Louise her captions are possibly my favourite on Instagram: "I want to fall in love with ideas, stories, places, cultures and people." A recent find but a firm favourite!

Annya Karina's feed is filled with bunnies, beautiful illustrations, woodland wanderings and the occasional cake. What's not to love? While the IG world falls in love with "white backgrounds"and minimalism, accounts like hers are also so refreshing. Plus, you will fall in love with Olive the rabbit. 

A selection box of bloggers to brighten up any feed. `Their snaps never go out of style and their captions always make me smile. Their wardrobes also top my 'dream home' wish-list...


Kim Loves Cloth was definitely in mind when I wrote the part about style lust... days after she posted about the Toyshop woodland dress it found its way into my wardrobe! Her feed is an eclectic mix of filters and themes but it comes together pretty as a picture. Her blog is also rather wonderful.

Olivia By Nature has the best eye for vintage style and an equally brilliant eye for photography. She is also one of the sweetest girls I have had the pleasure of speaking to online.

Alexandra Spence is another vintage insider, who also loves taking photos by trees and has the cutest bichon frise - Millie is half bichon, so it basically feels like we're related. Alexandra is also my middle name. I may have found my IG soul-sister! Or, at least, Millie has... Toronto road-trip? 

* * *

Ah, Autumn (Dumbledore voice). It is ultimately a magic beyond all we capture. Nonetheless, these accounts do come pretty close! It truly is an InstaLove story... except that this balcony has autumn air/Romeo would be better off throwing conkers. Gosh I really need to stop with the Taylor references. I also need to start sharing the IG love more, because it has to be my favourite social media platform. 

What are your favourite Fall feeds?

16 November 2015

Swift and Sure Pt.1

Following on from my "Cara's Closet" post, I thought I would turn it into a little series. Not only are there are some seriously stylish starlets out there, especially for street style, but the designer price tag can be a leave you a little blue. This is where ShopStyle and a lot of ASOS browsing step in!

Against tough competition, I think my top celebrity style crush  has to be Taylor Swift. Satchels, headbands, brogues, preppy skirts... need I say more? It's a ready-made love story. Here's a style guide that never goes out of style. Okay I promise I'll stop for now... 


1. Ribbed jumper,  Topshop£14    2. Mustard Scallop SkirtASOS, £22    3. Blue barrel bagAccessorize, £35 
4. Yellow Essie pumps, Moda in Pelle, £35    5. Check A-Line  skirtTopshop, £32    6. Blue Scallop Skirt, ASOS, £16
I am a skirt girl all the way. Jeans are as popular in my wardrobe as Maleficent at a Christening - unless she's played by Angelina Jolie. It seems Taylor is on the same page. Ever since I bought tartan dungarees from Urban Outfitters several years ago, it has been one of my most searched for trends on the high street/eBay. I haven't quite developed the confidence for knee-high socks, but Taylor (as ever) makes it work. 

The yellow shoes are also a winner - who wouldn't want to channel Minnie Mouse? To complete the love story, baby Olivia Benson makes an appearance (feline fashion featured later in post...) I wish I could tote Millie around like this - she is still unable to go on a lead without straining to chase a squirrel! 

Now onto colours. I adore the blue and yellow combo in pictures 3/4. They're not often paired together but they should be! I'm currently on the search for a blue bag and am particularly taken by this Accessorize one. They also have a seriously cute blue satchel that has Taylor written all over it. I cannot recommend these scallop skirts from ASOS enough. I already own the pastel blue one, but the quality for price is amazing - there's also a wealth of colours to choose from. Oops, I might have resold them to myself... 

I wore this skirt nearly every day of my Florence holiday - some things never go out of style. 

1. Intarsia Sweater,  Hollister£19    2. Marsha Intarsia jumper, Joules, £70    3. Hedgehog print jumperYumi, £45
4. Fox SatchelAccessorize, £25    5. Cat cross body bagASOS, £35   
I told you animal appeared would be making an appearence. My relationship with animal clothing goes back to early childhood, when the "magic blue fairy" brought me a plus Chip backpack in DisneyLand - this was, essentially, a chipmunk soft toy with room for one pen. I also had giant Pluto slippers and still spend October waiting for Next to release their christmas nightwear... 

... on that note, Back to Taylor. She may have whipped out the jeans (aaah), but her jumpers scream "style in a sweater". Joules lead the way on this trend with their Marsha sweater range - I was lucky enough to get one for Christmas last year. You cannot beat dogs in festive onesies.... unless, perhaps, you're a beret-wearing Hedgehog. I spotted this Yumi sweater in London over the summer, and only resisted on the promise that I would invest come Autumn... I have 14 days. Yikes. Sadly, the adorable toddler is not included,; however, I don't think cuteness factor will ever be an issue with this trend. 

Now onto the bags - because Taylor loves a bag and I do too. In case you hadn't noticed.  I personally wouldn't go for the Cat face because, well, I'm a dog-lover and find cats a bit creepy (unless they're an Animagus or Mog). However, ever since I saw the fox bag on Jayne's blog last month, I was instantly on the hunt! Hers is from George, but Accessorize also have one in my favourite satchel-style.

1. Mustard cropped cardigan,  Urban Outfitters£39    2. SunglassesASOS, £70    3. Button playsuitTopshop, £25
4. SatchelASOS, £25    5. Camel Joni jeans, Topshop, £35    6. On the Cards brogues, ASOS, £28 

Yes, I did include a link to jeans. What has come over me? Nonetheless, I do feel satchels, cardigans and brogues bring it nicely back to planet Sophie. Yellow is a bit of a controversial colour when it comes to clothes. Some people (okay, a lot of people) really hate it! Others can like it on someone else, but wouldn't so much as purchase a mustard bobble hat.

Taylor and I are in the third camp of yellow appreciation; it's the colour of happiness after all. Sunshine, daffodils, making lemonade from lemons... you can't go wrong. I have definitely fallen for the Urban Outfitters cardigan - I just love the cropped style too. In Autumn it would go perfectly with red, as Taylor wonderfully demonstrates, but also earthy greens/ browns. Some say school teacher? I say style gold. 

1. Yellow crochet scarfHayley & Co£20    2. Yellow duffle coatASOS, £150    3. Pattern coat, Topshop, £79
4. Burgundy duffle coatDorothy Perkins, £47.20    5. Vintage Hattie broguesAgnes & Norman, £139    
You can't have Autumn without coats. It would be like having Christmas without Miracle on 34th Street... Or Not On The High Street! I couldn't write a post on Taylor's quirky style, without the help one my this amazing store. I just want to wrap myself up in this crochet scarf and I am certain Ms Swift would approve. 

Her duffle coat face on the left says it all: The haters may hate on Paddington Bear style, but Taylor knows it's timeless. I recently got my duffle coat out of the wardrobe and I may as well be sewn into it. I invested in one a couple of years ago and it is still as good as new. 

Last but by no means least - two-tone brogues. I've been trying to make two-tone brogues 'happen' for months. Maybe I need to accept defeat, but still live in hope the world will agree! I know Taylor does. The only downside of my beloved Agnes & Norman brogues is that no other shoe can now compare. Brogues and boots are definitely items to invest in for quality! 
Part two will be with you in very due course - in a shockingly new turn of events, I have already written it. I don't know what's come over disorganised me, but I'm not complaining! Until then, I'll leave you with Swift's own sound advice...


1 November 2015

The Art of Autumn

Last sunday I went on the most wonderful walk with my Mum and Millie. Few things rival the beauty of the countryside in Autumn, where the leaves are just turning and the weather has that perfect crispness. Since we discovered Newton Park campus right on our doorstep, Octobers have never been more beautiful; like Anne of Green Gables, I have a lot of appreciation for this month! 

For any Bath/Bristol residents, the Lakeside walk by Newton St Loe is a hidden gem. I've been a bit disappointed with the lingering abundance of greenery - Dear Nature, it's October. I need the auburn colour palette! However, I definitely found my turning leaves last weekend. 
I had a bit of fun with IG layouts, because one Millie simply isn't enough. I confess the second photo captures her in a slightly compromised position, but sometimes Nature calls...
Two months on from purchase, I still get asked about my Topshop coat almost every time I wear it! It might be the best purchase I've made this year, with the possible exception of the jumpsuit...

My favourite galleries cannot be contained by walls. The admission is free and the scenery beyond value. Sometimes a season can hold the richest paint palette. As the falling leaves turn, so do the heads that were once buried beneath the rush-hour. Some things cannot stay unnoticed. Nature does not need to be exhibited. When left to grow on her own, the smallest things can rival any masterpiece. Out here, the world is allowed to simply be.

Not only do I have an Autumn haven right on my doorstep, but I am lucky to call one of the Country's greenest Campuses my second home. The world truly is a beautiful place, and I've noticed this more through blogging. Hannah Gale's recent post on The Benefits of Instagram couldn't be more true. 

The 'lure of likeability' is an epidemic for bloggers. MAC, Pumpkin Spice Latte cups and Autumn's own leaves could be the unofficial sponsors of Instagram! However, by photographing we are also stopping to truly see them. I want to go out and see the world more than ever. 

Magazines are no longer purchased for inane gossip, but qualities such as aesthetic value. The flowers in my room may look pretty for a moment-in-time photo, but they will make my 'real-life' brighter for days to come. For every 1000 words a picture says, countless stories accompany and follow. So keep your camera phone to hand and your eyes on the world ahead. It will keep surprising you. 
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