28 August 2016

Fortnightly Favourites #5

I'll admit it's been a bit longer than a fortnight since my last post - within a week of returning from New England, I'd found myself a job and have been working for the last 5 days straight. I think August has been more eventful than the rest of 2016 put together, so I am a little cream-crackered! Nevertheless, I will always find time to spare for my bloglovin rambles; moreover, as ever I have found a few favourites to share! Ft. Hair bows, bad-day reflections and a perspective on being "popular"...


Understanding Photography Terminology - So it's pretty much a given now that Nicole will feature somewhere in my fortnightly favourites... her content is consistently amazing and I don't know quite how she does it! This is a bible for all aspiring photographers/ anyone who keeps getting aperture and exposure mixed up. Unless that's just me... Needless to say, this post was exactly what my bookmarks tab has been looking for! Thank-you lovely Nicole.

5 Tips to Improve your Outfit Photography - I'm always on the lookout for ways to capture my outfits, especially if I am entrusting Penny to my mum! I will definitely be taking Cliona's advice for shooting on alow aperture setting, - the bokeh dream - as well as  taking the photo yourself first - even if it's just to test the background/camera settings. My one stumbling block right now is confidence, specifically with action shots... I love the "drinking a cup of tea" snaps too! So September goal = care less what other people think.

Wildflowers in the Sunshine - Fellow Sophie is a very recent addition to my blogroll, but I'm very quickly falling in love! Her photos are like a ray of sunshine to your day, spotlighting all there is to love about the English countryside. It has also motivated me to keep getting outdoors with Penny, now I'm back from holiday; I don't need New England to find beauty in the natural world; it's right on my doorstep!


Two Days in Bath - I love seeing my beautiful home city through tourist eyes, as it reminds me how lucky I am to be here. It made me smile to spot some of my personal favourites, including Toppings Bookshop and Prior Park gardens, which Millie has rambled around many times! Mimmi summed up Bath perfectly with "beautiful and calm". It truly is a wonderful place to just be.

Summer Lakes Adventures - This post by Clara was the definition of all things blogged and beautiful. I need to go to all these places! Clara was spot on when she compared it to Lord of the Rings, as I felt I could be looking at photos of The Shire. Nature definitely tops my list of "happy things" and it's always lovely to see other bloggers share this. 

50 Films I loved as a kid and still watch - This post by Emmie, as it sent me on such a happy nostalgia trip!  this post sent me on such a happy nostalgia trip, I can't thank Emmie enough for writing it! If I had to sum up my childhood in films, this list had it covered. From Hocus Pocus and Holiday in the Sun, to MadelineMatilda and The Parent Trap, the 90s was a cine-dream. Did you watch the Mary-Kate and Ashley films growing up?


Simple top-knot - I've never shared a hairstyling blog love before, but this bow-fastened style is both elegant and attainable - half of my "Hair Necessities" Pinterest board  is filled with looks I could only dream of, but I will definitely be trying this top-knot soon!

How to Nail Casual Tailoring - Listen to Robyn, that's how! Her style posts are always on point and she just puts outfits together so well. need these trousers in my life, and the shoes.. and possibly the bag too! If you haven't visited her blog, which includes some brilliant posts on topics such as anxiety, I cannot recommend it more.

Top 10 cruelty-free lipsticks - if I had to choose my favourite item of makeup, I think lipstick would top the cosmetic tree... as long as it's cruelty-free, of course. So this post had heart-eye emojis all over for me! I've wanted to try Charlotte Tilbury for a while, but this may have pushed my debit card to the finish line... I will also be exploring Sarah Hill, as Pink Truffle look amazing!

The Cloud 9 Dress - Cambridge Satchel Company and Sister Jane, two brands that were soulmates in another life... along with my new workplace Joy! When I saw that Sarah was starting a blog through her instagram, I was so excited; as Content Editor at CSC she has my dream job, but is also a girl after my own heart with her personal style! Any dress named after a cloud is floating straight to the top of my wonderlist...   

Speaking Out

University and Mental Health - wonderful, wise and eloquent Nicole has addressed such an important topic, not to mention one that hits particularly close to home for me. University can be truly amazing, but this dramatic life change can also bring immense challenges. If you are heading to University in September, or are currently at University, please prioritise your health; wellbeing is more important than any grade or gradation hat.

To be popular -  (I've now got the Wicked Song Popular in my head on repeat...) So there's always that one post where I wish I could apparate, simply so I could hug the person who wrote it! I've made no secret of my slight exhasperation with "how to gain follower" posts, so Fran nailed it with her observations here: "working on a blog just to gain higher statistics sucks the personality out of it. Like a Dementor sucking out your soul." Less Dementor, more Dumbledore: wise, kind and a little bit batty. Earwax jelly beans anyone?

Stop trying to force me to be positive - There's been a few posts addressing the "positivity police" on twitter, but Rihanna's post stayed with me. I liked how she highlighted the expectation on bloggers to have a facade of rainbows and smiles (hello Mean Girls), which simply isn't indicative of real life: "we need to stop forcing this positive princess ideal on everyone because life doesn't work like that." Bad days don't make you a bad person, they make you human!
Ps: if the world was a Princess Parade, then going to Disney World wouldn't be anywhere near as exciting... where's the fun in that?


How to be mindful of your self-talk - This post highlights two things that are central to wellbeing, but which I struggle with a lot: self-compassion and allowing yourself to feel. I'm certain I'm not alone in this, so I really recommend giving it a read. It's helped me to acknowledge some things and sometimes you need those little wake-up calls. What are some of your ideas for self-care?

Self-reflection: having bad days - Hayley is another very recent addition to my blogroll, but after reading this post I know she's here to stay! I could empathise with many parts of this post, from putting on a smile to turning insight into action. My heart always breaks when I know people have gone through similar struggles to me, but I do believe that honesty is part of recovery.
*When reading Hayley's older posts, I was just a little excited to discover that she is a fellow paper-cutter. That being said, next to her designs mine look like they were created in a kindergarten class!

4 Distraction Techniques for anxiety - I see these kinds of posts circulating a lot in the blogosphere, but they often give very similar advice. Lauren's post offered a refreshingly unique perspective, with some ideas that I'd never thought of before. My favourite - and the one I intend to practice - is to narrate my current situation. Like Lauren, I love writing, so why not use this for good? As it responds to events, rather than emotions, it could be a welcome change from diary-writing. Time for a new notebook?

What blogs have you been loving lately? 


23 August 2016

Newport Sails and Stripes

Welcome to Newport! From Rhode Island capital to coastal cliffs, Newport is a true gem of New England. After seeing photos on Girl with Pearls, I was already aware that it was pretty postcards perfect. Yet nothing could quite prepare me for the #instagoals overload of sailboats, rocky shores and coastal cottages. 

* I admit that I went a little overboard with Penny photography in Newport; I may as well have titled this post If it ain't Bokeh, fix it! So I really do hope you like plants twigs and trees.... Exhibit A: 
At the time I felt like a photography genius. Looking back, my judgement was definitely a bit blurred by the Bokeh-bubble! I think I prefer the first photo, where the coastline is blurred, but what are your thoughts? My approach on holiday was very much "snap first, see later." I took so many photos and a lot them were promptly deleted! 

Sadly, My snap hat did come with a fatal flaw; I'd somehow run out of memory by the end of day 2? The memory card can hold 1000 photos, so I was a little perplexed. Then I realised that I still had around 500 photos of Millie that I'd forgotten to delete kept because I'm a crazy dog lady

Thankfully, Penny was on-hand with her trusty iPhone wireless; as much as I love my #bloggergoals blurry background, this might be my favourite feature of the the EPL7. A few panicked minutes later, Millie was transported and I snappy days were here again. Note to self: Clear out your memory card before you travel! 
Stripe midi dress, £20, New Look    Periwinkle push lock, £100, Cambridge Satchel Company

Chapels & Chobani at Mill Street Inn 

This was the roof terrace at our hotel, which was pretty picture-perfect for breakfast! They also had berry tea in the loveliest glass cups, plus Chobani greek yoghurt and actual berries. Mill Street Inn you stole my heart, along with your coffee table book on dogs...

An introduction to caviar & cauliflower puree... 

So I finally tried caviar... I don't know about you, but maybe that's what Taylor meant about feeling 22? Caviar, champers and cauliflower puree. This was possibly the fanciest dinner I've ever had, all thanks to a bit of a crisis with restaurant availability... Newport's top destination, the Clarke Cooke House Skybar, was around our 6th attempt at securing a reservation! It was a bit fancier than we had planned and I did feel slightly daunted. With caviar vin blanc, grapefruit gastrique and curried avocado, I needed Heston as my translator!

However, when I saw "sea scallops" I just knew the quality would be too good to miss out on. So Mum and I both decided to brave the  grapefruit gastronomy, while shellfish-allergy Dad stuck with Duck. As I said in my Providence postNew England seafood is legendary and I definitely made the most of this! I admit that I wast sold on the grapefruit, but the cauliflower puree was lovely and oh my days the scallops... they should have been labelled "ambrosia", they were that good! Sorry Waitrose, you've been out-scalloped, but you are still my go-to for free coffee. 

A room with a Bellevue...

Khaki wrap playsuit, £35, Topshop     Tan satchel (similar), £30, ASOS  
On the Monday morning we went on the famous "Cliff Walk", where you can have a nosy at the Bellevue Mansions. You can go inside the mansions, but you have to pay we wanted to make the most of the sunshine - we do come from RainLand after all. Before starting the walk, I was already sold by the name of the adjacent street: Bellevue. We may as well have been in Disney/ a Sims neighbourhood! As always, Olympus Penny was by my side.to capture the (Belle) view..

While I snapped away with Penny, mum was like an excitable child with her selfie stick; forget Kim Kardashian the Sat Nav, we have a new contender here... I'm still amaxerd her iPhone didn't end up in the ocean, to be honest! Given the convenient sea-colour of her the case, that would have been a long search...
 The Mansion above is is The Breakers, Newport's grandest 'cottage' - yup, it is actually a summer cottage, built by the Vanderbilt family in the 19th Century. These are the same Vanderbilts that are name-dropped in Legally Blonde or Gossip Girl... that's how I know them anyway, given my love for the two! You can just tell I was destined for high-society life... So for those of you who wanted to marry Nate Archibald, this little summer cottage could have been all yours. Or, alternatively, one of these...

Even the plants looked sad and austere, poor things Personally, I couldn't think of anything worse than living in one of those places; it's just another reason to go with Dan Humphry! This house is over-the-top, Old-Money overkill and it's scary to think that this was their vacation home. it reminds me of the Mortimer mansion in The Sims, which I swiftly bulldozed, or Malfoy Manor. Incidentally, they used a couple of the mansions for filming the original Great Gatsby, which made a lot of sense. 

In an English country estate, it might have worked, but this was a coastal cliff with beautiful flowers and salty air... where's the clapboard?! Where are the open windows and shutters and living plant life?! I would much rather have lived in a house like the one below. Okay, so it's not exactly modest - it actually looks like the Mckenzie mansion in Father of the Bride! - but it's a welcome depature from  the Royal Wannabes at Chateau de Windsorbilt....
So it turns out that Bellevue Avenue is also home to a University Campus?! A Catholic College, to be precise, possibly for girls to get their MRS degree (find a rich husband). And I thought Exeter was a good choice for Beach trips...  At this point on the walk, nature started to look a little more colourful and the buildings did too. I even got a chance to practice some of those "flower zoom/Bokeh background" shots I've become slightly obsessed with.  Still got a little way to go before I'm Mario Testino, but practice makes picture...

Have you ever visited Newport or Rhode Island?


19 August 2016

On the Rhode to Providence

Providence was the first stop on our 8-day and 4-state road trip around New England. Situated in Rhode Island, the main reason for our visit will be revealed towards the end of the post...   Nonetheless, from the start Providence was topped the google search list A word of advice: New England and web searches are like Starbucks and New York... everywhere. So if you ever want to visit, give yourself a good month or six.

After deciding on the Rhode Island capital as destination uno, we landed in Boston Airport and immediately picked up our car, which turned out to be a red Jeep. We requested a car with "room for 3 suitcases", but one case still ended up in the back seat with me! So then we drove... and drove... and drove. In hindsight, coinciding our arrival time with Boston rush hour wasn't the best idea we've ever had! Picking Providence, however? Genius. First off, we arrived at our hotel to be greeted by this...
At first, I genuinely thought the Sat Nav had taken us to DC, as the Providence State Building bares an uncanny resemblance to Capitol Hill. Thanks to a few wrong turns, Little Miss Map had already earned the nickname Kim (I think I've mentioned Dad's hatred of the Kardashians before, but just to reiterate... he really hates the Kardashians). Personally, I wanted to call her "Hilliary", but no one else seemed to find this as hilarious as me. Tough crowd.

Besides the incredible location, the Renaissance Providence ticked all the boxes; the waiter recommended some fab coffee shops and, 5 hotels later, we agreed it had both the comfiest bed and the best coffee supply; I do love my Starbucks sachets! This came in handy for our first night, where we set ourselves a stay-awake target of Andy Murray and the Team GB Flag; we travelled on the Opening Night of the Olympics. Let's just say I watched it on iplayer the next morning, before we checked out of Rio and back into Rhode Island...
We found a Panera for breakfast, which serves about a dozen different teas, and fresh strawberries; it's clear that I can't quite abandon my English heritage, but I got a cultural helping of Oatmeal and local news too. When in the US, Hilliary and Chump are like wasps at a BBQ. Thankfully the food was more palatable; I used to think that water-cooked oats were a crime against breakfast, but steamed oatmeal is good! 
Later in the morning we visited 'historic' Federal Hill - google gave us visions of cobbled streets and beautiful architecture. Well google lied; he's got the perfect CV for campaign Clinton... Nonetheless, there was one saving grace in Pastiche bakery, where we stopped for a morning coffee. Or lemonade, if you're mum and dad. Now we know why I recovered the quickest from jet-lag... 

It had the most incredible range of cakes and biscotti and teas, so we were a bit regretful we hadn't gone in the afternoon! They also had teacups on display (top left) that reminded me of Chip from Beauty and the Beast - I liked to imagine that Emma Watson - the next Belle - visited as a student. Oh, then a bit further up the hill was this cake. Cobbled streets  may have been out, but cake was in. Dory had it covered... 
Frill-neck shirt, £15, ASOS,    Scallop-hem skirt, £20, ASOS     Push-lock bag, £100, CSC   Lace espadrilles, £16, ASOS

Like me, your knowledge of Brown University may stem from a slight Girl Crush on Emma Watson/ general Harry Potter obsession. It's also the Ivy League school that attracted Serena Van Der Woodson, but Emma claims the prize for most magical Alumni! At the time, I remember quietly wondering why she chose Brown over Harvard, Yale, or Oxbridge.

Walking around the campus, I finally saw why. It's just so relaxed; different to any other British and American University I have been to. All the gorgeous ones can feel quite intimidating, while others look like they were designed by Blind Nuns. Looking at you Warwick. At Brown, the streets were like a postcard, but it felt so chilled. The University's history echoes this. 

Brown was the first college to accept all students, regardless of religious affiliation, and became a co-ed school over twenty years before Harvard! Liberalism runs throughout the entire state of Rhode Island, which was a refuge for religious dissenters in 17th Century Massachusetts. I would have loved spending more time in RI, to learn more of the origins of the state, as that sense of freedom is still so present today. Then you have the New England trees... oh the trees! I'll shut up now and leave the photos to talk.
Frill-neck shirt, £15, ASOS,    Scallop-hem skirt, £20, ASOS     Push-lock bag, £100, CSC   Lace espadrilles, £16, ASOS

Isn't Polly gorgeous? Polly the periwinkle push-lock bag, that is. If brands were spirit animals, The Cambridge Satchel Company would very possibly be mine. Polly was an early Birthday present and, if you read my latest Fortnightly Finds, you'll know it took me quite a while to choose! Well, I have no regrets. If CSC are looking for a new market, they need to head to the Ivy League! Or Hogwarts...  i'm certain Hermione would approve. 
If that wasnt enough, the mascot is *shock horror* a Brown Bear. It would have been even cooler if it was an Otter - for the uneducated, this is Hermione's Patronus. However, my love Grizzly Bears goes back to my Zoo Tycoon days, so I'm sold! I'm a bit gutted we didn't buy Millie a "brown" dog coat or mini bear as a souvenir, but thankfully Newport provided its own canine treasure cove...  lookout for my next post! There is a statue of the bear in the central courtyard and I named him Albus... any resemblance to HP is entirely coincidental. He definitely looks like an Albus. 
I will always be a bit wistful that Exeter wasn't really a biking University. It rivals New England for trees, but the Hills would have destroyed me and speedy - the name of my childhood bike. I admit have a slight obsession with naming everything I own! Oh Brown you were so lovely, from your bikes to your obligatory bookstore. I picked up copies of the New Yorker... and US Weekly. Life is all about balance, which includes the IQ of your magazines.  

*Disclaimer: Brown didn't sponsor this post - I just really like bicycles,  books and bears. Nonetheless, I would happily accept a place in exchange for free promotion... 

I see fire, inside Rhode Island

On the first night, we listened to the gods at Trip Advisor and booked Hemenway's, which was completely scrumdiddlyumptious. New England is basically the home of seafood, so this holiday featured a lot of my new favourite dish, bouillabaisse! 
Everytime I hear this word, like Katy on her Instagram the other week, I picture Fleur Delacour saying "can you pass ze bouillabaisse?" and flash a smile only HP can bring. Sadly we didn't get this on camera, as this is the "oh god mum please don't break my beloved Penny" face... 
8 days on, I'm pleased  to report that Penny was still alive! Phew. Moreover, Mum turned out to be quite a good Olympus Penner, when I managed to tear her away from her selfie stick.... Looking back, I wish we'd gotten more 'people' photos of our holiday, but ultimately the best memories are taken by your mind  #cheesyboardalert. 

After dinner and a delicious bowl of bouillabaisse + bubbles, we  went outside to witness one of Providence's long-standing traditions. The reason we began our holiday in Providence, to coincide with 6th August....
The Providence Water Fire! I think our attraction to this event says a lot about our Disney Routes, because it's basically Tangled meets Fantastmic on steroids (perhaps the Russian athletics team were volunteering...) I swear they were playing the Pocahontas music, while the market offerings were fit for a princess. Im like an excitable child when I see a market; I adore London's Portobello and genuinely ran across the street when I saw this one in Providence.  

There were Pupcakes, yarn bowls, mugs - basically a Sophie wonder-list - yet my inner Blair Waldorf gravitated towards these gorgeous hair clips. After much deliberation, I went for a tricoloured leaf design and subsequently wore for the rest of the holiday. Money well spent? I think so, so money-spending anxiety can be quiet! 

Coming soon: a View from Newport! Until then, shop my Providence wardrobe here... 
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