Firstly, apologies for the silence. A combination of family birthdays, my birthday, meetings in London and fewer staff at work this past week has left blogging time at a minimum.

But I'm back, a year older and a few days sleepier (hectic week and it's only Wednesday!)

I know I'm slow on the uptake here but last week my phone upgrade was due. I've never been known to be one for the latest gadget - usually leaving this to the 'kids' to play with but I could not resist when the lovely operator told me I qualified for the latest iPhone. The 4S. You know, that one you can natter with. (I know this purely because The Big Bang Theory featured it in an extremely funny episode.)

Anyway - last Friday rolled round and with the day off work I wandered into Manchester to pick up my shiny, new toy. The first 'app' I downloaded? Instagram.

I have, for a long time, looked in envy at my friends images popping up on Facebook and Twitter and repeatedly cursed Blackberry for not having a similar program to process images through. So, sorry Blackberry but you lost out - traded in for one of Steve Jobs' creations. And I very much doubt I'll ever look back.

If you have an iPhone but you don't have this app - get it. You're missing out. If you have anything other than an iPhone - burn it. This program is amazing for anyone with even the slightest appreciation for visuals. And the camera on the phone is ridiculously good. I don't know what I was expecting but I certainly wasn't imagining it could make my digital camera look like a caveman's accessory.

It's like having a mini version of Photoshop at your fingertips. The ability to crop, enhance colours, alter focus and more is hard to resist and with this in hand we are all just a few clicks away from airbrushed perfection - although I'm still in debate as to whether this is actually a positive.

And the Instagram community is great fun - like a Twitter for images. As mentioned in an earlier post I love me some people watching and this definitely leans towards this - small portals into others every day lives.

Anyhoo...this typing malarkey is cutting into my Instagram time. Toodles.

And the images I'm sure you think are by!


Dating Disasters Update. A Long One.

Not long ago I wrote about a series of dates that had, one way or another, gone wrong. Never to be repeated. I'd hoped.

Now, with these experiences still fresh in my mind I'd thought that must be my 'bad date' lot for 2012. But no. Whoever's responsible for the karmic turn of events must really have it in for me as I have had the dating disaster to top all my others.

A few weeks back I went to meet a guy I'd been set up with - a bit of a blind date - and was, as you would be, quite nervous. I got to the pub 5 minutes late (girls, as we are all aware this is deliberate - nobody likes to be there first, oui?) but was a little disgruntled to find him not there. And by this I mean I looked at a few guys and judging by the picture he'd sent me they weren't him so I sat quietly nursing a Diet Coke and waited. And waited. At 8.15pm he came in. Now I know I said I'd deliberately been 5 minutes late but 15 I think is stretching it somewhat. Am I wrong?

That aside however, we actually had a nice enough evening. Chat flowed, we had a couple of drinks and at about 10.30pm I made my excuses and left. (I learnt from the date the other week that ended at 1am they they sometimes assume there's a reason you're hanging out with them until that hour!) But there was a little niggling feeling.

It wasn't until the next night when chatting to my housemate that I realised what it was. He'd made a few...what are they best described as?...back handed compliments. I think. He'd mentioned my ability to talk a lot. I know this is true. But it's a sore spot for me and something I am trying to control. I just like to natter but I know this is less than ideal to some people. And he didn't say it in an entirely flattering way. He also made what I thought was a dig about my chosen career in fashion but I couldn't be sure so when he suggested a 2nd date I didn't see the harm. Fool that I am.

That 2nd date was last week. We'd agreed to meet at 8.30pm in a favourite pub of mine. The night before he'd asked if he could move it to 9pm. I wasn't loving the late start time but had literally no other nights free that week so agreed. Then during the day he sent a message, "If I'm a little late don't worry. I'll be there..." This should have been my 1st warning sign. If you have to push the date back and can't even commit to 9pm you aren't really that bothered, surely..?

Anyway. 9pm rolled round and it was that time that I chose to book my taxi for. So I strolled in at 9.10pm thinking, foolishly, that I'd be casually late. But no. He wasn't there. I got myself a drink and sat in a corner facing the door and at 9.20pm I got a message, "I'll be there soon." After another 5minutes I sent back, "How long?" ... "2 mins" When it hit 9.30pm I started to type, "Sorry, I'm going to head home..." and he walked in. So that was that scuppered.

We sat for a few minutes having the obligatory, "So, how have you been?" chat until the bar tender came to take away my empty glass (aforementioned self bought drink) and it was at that second he dropped the clanger. Not only was he 30 minutes late but, "I've forgotten my wallet." I could've cried. Not from bitter dissappointment but because I knew at that moment my housemate was at home watching Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and having a much better evening than I was ever going to.

I bought him a pint. And me a LARGE red. Then got him 1/2 a shandy (he was driving). Which he complained at (he'd wanted a pint of shandy and I'd misunderstood). After just over an hour I was done. He'd made a few more sly remarks about my job, talking, and this time my laugh, "I like a loud, belly laugh on a girl!" (Oh, cheers, just what every woman needs to hear in order to feel their sexiest!)

I went to a good bar on the way home and enjoyed some more merlot, sambuca and chat with my friend behind the bar and eventually called another friend who has a dog for a late night walk and moan around the city. So it wasn't a totally wasted night.

The guy I'd been on a date with has since been in touch for a 3rd date - which I cannot afford(!) - so I answered with the cliched, 'Dear John...' message and left it at that. In all honesty he was a lovely guy, if a little forgetful and blunt, but just not for me.

And you know what? I'm not even bothered. No dates on the horizon is not such a bad thing. My weeks are filled with seeing friends for pub quizzes, gym visits, family time and time just to myself. Which is actually great.

With this in mind the following Sex and the City quote seemed appropriate (although, somewhat toned down for me - I'm not a raging whore!):

Miranda: I, on the other hand, am on strike.
Charlotte: What does that mean?
Miranda: It means I'm not having any more sex.
Samantha: That's not a strike honey, that's a slump.
Miranda: No. It might have started as a slump but I'm in control of it now. I've made the conscious decision not to have sex until conditions improve.
Carrie: And how many people will be affected by this strike?
Miranda: far just the one but I'm optimistic. The thing is, I can't go on any more bad dates. I would rather be home alone than out with some guy who sells socks on the internet.
I hear that!


Nailed It

Over the past week or so I've noticed a trend of images popping up in my Bloglovin' and Hello Cotton newsfeeds and after my (probably) 200th click I decided to take heed. Jazzy nails for grown-ups.

Everyone remembers when they were children, stealing mums nail varnishes and running riot - more on fingers than nails. Polka dots, zig-zags, flowers (if you were very dexterous) and more. But around the age of 10 this usually fizzled out in order for one to hone ones 'I'm a cool teen' look, oui?

And that's where we left it - in the cobwebbed corners of our memories along with mud pies and kiss-chase (not at the same time of course, imagine the horror?!)

But it's back. And with a bang. Grown-ups are playing nail design again and what's more, it's totally acceptable!

In a world where terrible things are being made all the more accessible to us through media it sometimes feels like we need to take our rays of sunshine and whimsy where we can find them and I think this is the perfect way. It's simple, small and personal and every time you look at your hands it conjures a small smirk and lightens your mood just a little bit.

Not one to ignore an interesting new look I decided to mimic a design I'd seen and as last night was my night in this week that's exactly what I did.

Here's the look:

And here's my attempt:

I used Rimmel 60seconds in Rose Libertine (lovely name, don'tcha think?) and Makeup Academy in Silver (it's actually a 'crackle' varnish but over bare nails stays solid in colour)

What do you think? Partaking in the nail art trend? Let me know.

A Little Smug (not an obnoxious amount)

I'm a little happy with myself today as I have been going through my slight backlog of Emerald Street emails and saw this:

Not one to toot my own horn all that much but I mentioned this in a blog post *ahem* 9 weeks ago. Pretty pleased with my fashion forward eye there...the post I'm referring to is Fluro: A How To Guide

And the outfit I used it in is:

That is all. Self praise over. Apologies.


I Spy With My Beady Eye

People watching. Observing folks. Staring. Call it what you want. I love it. I cannot get enough.
You know that weirdo in the cafe who holds a book but doesn't even read a word because they're busy taking in their surroundings? Yeah, that's me.

I don't know why I find others so fascinating - I just like to see what people are wearing, how they're styling their hair, what they're carrying etc.

It must run in the family as all pictures here are taken by my sister who is an extremely talented photographer with an amazing propensity for capturing the every day man. See more of her work at

So when, some years back now, I fell across The Sartorialist blog by Scott Schuman my prayers were answered. Daily people watching from the comfort of my desk? Yes please!

Now I know the book is no new thing - published in 2009 and a best seller - but it's taken me some time to get round to purchasing it. I am just now building my 'coffee table' book collection and this is a must have for all my fellow people watchers.

It finally arrived yesterday. The only risk I run is having a book in a coffee shop that I actually look at now!


Take Note

Mens fashion isn't something I pretend to be an authority on. It's the one main area I've never worked in; covered most from interior to childrenswer, sport to womenswear. But I will say this - a well dressed man will always catch my eye and be appreciated.

In a world where CCTV is ever growing you'd think men would make more effort - smile, you're on camera!

One guy who has honed an absolute gem of a look is Justin O'Shea. For years I've admired his style. Those shirts, the jackets, his boots. That beard.

Men, take note - this is one stylish mutha.

And if anybody has his number...

Grey Matter

Grey. I love the colour. It's neutral. You can build it up or keep it simple. I've always admired it for that; dynamic little thing that it is.

So I was more than a little excited to see GOSH had brought out a limited edition colour in a lovely marl shade.

Groovy Grey. Couldn't be more underwhelmed by the name - so 90's it conjured up images of Spice Girls, Steps, Bewitched et al and almost, if anything, discouraged the sale. I mean c'mon 'Groovy' - are they kidding?!

Ridiculous title aside I still snapped it up. And I'm glad I did.

Three coats later (two would do, I just like to be thorough) and my nails look great. It's hard wearing too - had it on all weekend while I've been all outdoors-ey in The Lake District and not a chip. Impressed. The colour also lends itself to any jewellery one might want to pop on one's digits which is good. (Nothing worse than a nail, accessory clash, oui?)

As earlier mentioned it is a Limited Edition release so if you're anything like me and break into a jog at the sight of the shade get yours quickly - if I know anything about GOSH it's that their ability to restock is, unfortunately, non-existant (been after the same eyeliner for weeks now for 3 different joy yet.) Available from most Superdrug stores.


Marni Army

It's a funny thing a high street/designer collaboration. I've never been able to work out if it heightens the value of the high street label or devalues the designer element. Valentino x Gap failed to raise my pulse. Jason Wu x Target left me indifferent and Mary Katrantzou x Topshop (as much as I adore her own line) was never going to be a threat to my bank account.

Then Marni waded in. And things got hazy.
I have long been an admirer of the designs and own a couple of incredible key pieces already. These left my bank card a little frazzled at the time so when I heard she was joining forces with high street giants H&M I, and my bank manager, breathed a sigh of relief.

Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that the designer had somewhat 'sold out' to the mass production of the high street and although I agree with Masato (designer for Giles Deacon and owner of self-named brand) who, in my earlier interview with him, had said he loves collaborations as they link designers and the every day man I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. And really - should I be buying into it?

Surely a little peak couldn't hurt, could it? Which is what I did after work this evening. Well, what I actually did was venture into H&M to return a top that I'd purchased without trying on a couple of nights ago and there it was...the collection.

I just popped over - mainly as I was surprised there was any left - and then I saw them.  A pair of gladiator sandals I had admired several times in the promo shots and window displays set up in preparation for the launch.

My trusty sandals that I wore religiously gave up the ghost last summer so I was in need of a new pair. Because of my earlier personal quibble about the devaluation of a brand that was once the preserve of the most stylish women in the world I decided to view them for what they are at their most basic - a stylish pair of sandals that will go with EVERYTHING this S/S. And one pair of my size left? It was meant to be.


Did you buy anything from this latest collaboration? Let me know what you think to it all...


The Perfect Canvas

Foundation. Quite literally the foundation of your daily makeup routine. But where to start?

My step dad actually works in the cosmetics chemical business and has always drummed it into me that if it's going directly onto your skin don't scrimp on it. The cheaper the product the cheaper the chemicals in it - hands up if you want budget chemicals applied directly to your face...Thought not.

I used to be a hardcore convert of Chanel Pro Lumiere Foundation which suited my complexion down to the ground, didn't need reapplying at any time throughout the day and gave great coverage without being a thick, heavy consistency. I loved it. For years I loved it. Then they hiked the price up. Not by £1 or £2 but by £5. And I draw the line at spending over £30 no matter how fabulous the finish.

A friend of mine then recommended Bourjois as a cheaper alternative. At around £10 a pop I thought this wouldn't shock my step dad too much and was assured by my friend (who has flawless skin) that it was good quality, had a lovely finish and was kind to the bank account. So I tried it. Bourjois Healthy Mix to be precise.
Oh how I regret this now. It has left my face ruined. My poor skin has been dried out, despite moisturising sometimes 3 times a day with Olay. It feels tight, sometimes painful and definitely over sensitive. As someone who never suffered with spots through my teens and early twenties I am not happy to be discovering little outbreaks now...and days from my 26th birthday this is not an ideal time to hone a skin affliction.

So goodbye Bourjois. (Healthy mix my foot!)

After that little escapade I decided it was time to hot foot it to Selfridges beauty floor and get some advice. My housemate has a great foundation from Estee Lauder so i thought I'd go and see what they could do for me and after trying out 3-4 different types and colours we found a perfect match. Double Wear in Fresco. 

I tried it this morning for the first time and even on its first wear I can tell the difference. I've not had to reapply, my skin feels soft and with inbuilt SPF 10 I feel looked after. It retails at £26.50 which doesn't bother me as all I ever hear ringing in my ears is my step dads warning about cheap chemicals - and Bourjois proved that to me!

I'll let you know how it plays out but so far I have a good feeling about my newest beauty buy...


A Little West

By now I'm sure it can't have escaped your attention that I am a big shoe fan. And, generally with me, it's the weirder the better. Which is why if I had £3,683 (that's 4,420 or $5,841 to my international readers) to spare THESE would be my next purchase.

The beautiful things are Kanye West for Giuseppe Zanotti and there's only a single pair on sale in Paris. They were created exclusively for the Kanye models to wear and this is the only pair available to the public (I say 'the public' as if £3,683's a normal amount to have lying around - I am aware it really, really is not!)

But there's no denying their beauty so let's just have another little look...