Monday, 29 December 2014

Blogmas Day 29: Into The Woods - OOTD

So I'll admit I've been pretty crappy with Blogmas, however I'm pretty pleased with how much content I've managed to come up with, and I really hope you've enjoyed it. 

With the chaos of Christmas finally over, I decided to pick my camera up once more and get back into the swing of things with a good ol' Outfit of the Day post. 

I've been meaning to do another one for ages, especially since I got this new dress from 

I've never owned a wrap dress before, but for anyone with a curvy figure they're incredible flattering. I'd never looked twice at one until I saw this print. From a distance it looks like any old monochrome pattern, but close-up the detailed woodland print becomes clear. 

What I really love about it is that you can dress it up and down, and that goes for the boots too. They were a brilliant Black Friday buy that go with absolutely everything, from dresses to ripped jeans. I'm such a sucker for a chunky heel. 

The scarf and gloves also featured in my Black Friday post and were my best bargain buys. So happy to finally own a pair of leather gloves. 

All in all I feel the contrast of soft fabrics with leather, as well as matte with glossy makes for an outfit suitable for a variety of occasions, be it a meal out or a walk in the woods (not if it's muddy though, the boots now need a good scrub; luckily they're washable). 


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Blogmas Day 24: Alternative Xmas Playlist

I love the atmosphere of Christmas, I really do. It's a holiday where your senses are alive with the sights, the smells, the tastes and of course the sounds. 

For me, I'm getting a little bit tired of hearing the same Christmas songs year on year. I find it really sad that for as long as I can remember, the Christmas No.1 spot has been dominated by X Factor garbage, with no one even trying to bring something new to the table (and no, the new Band Aid song doesn't count). 

However, the lack of new Christmas material doesn't mean we have to sit listening Slade on repeat. 

Here's a selection of some of my favourite Christmas songs that don't quite fit the cliche Christmas mold, but help me get in the festive mood all the same. 

Carol of the Bells (Rout Remix)

Amy Winehouse - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause

Blink 182 - I Won't Be Home for Christmas 

The Killers - Don't Shoot Me Santa

Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - All I Want For Christmas 

Bruce Springstein - Santa Clause is Coming to Town

Florence & the Machine - Last Christmas

The Futureheads - Christmas was Better in the 80s

The Crookes - It's Just Not Christmas Without You

The Wombats - Is This Christmas?

Fall Out Boy - What's This?

The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)

My Chemical Romance - All I Want for Christmas is You


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Blogmas Day 23: The Zoella / Blogger Debate: What Will 2015 Hold?

You may remember back in October I wrote this rant in reaction to a particular journalist's onslaught of Vlogger / Blogger Zoella. 

Since then my rants have consistently focused on how journalists and the media have negatively and harmfully responded to certain topics, from Gemma Collins and I'm a Celebrity, to Kim K and Keira Knightley baring all. 

For my last rant of 2014, I thought I'd go back to where it all started, and look at how the negative attitudes of journalists and the media have developed over the last two months, not only towards Zoella, but bloggers in general, and what it means for us in 2015. 

I feel it's fair to assume that since you guys are either bloggers yourselves or avid readers of blogs, you too will be disgruntled (to say the least) at how much the media either don't get blogging / vlogging, or refuse to understand it. 

Since writing my Zoella post, it all kicked off for her: A book release, a Youtube advert, featuring on the Band Aid 30 single etc etc. However it seemed like she couldn't blow her nose without a newspaper criticizing the influence she was having on her 'impressionable' audience.  

The root cause of the media's sudden scrutiny towards Zoella? She ghostwrote her book! Are these journalists, who are meant to do research for a living, that naive when it comes to the publishing industry? Actually scrap that, the creative industry! Do you really think Beyonce writes every single one of her songs? Rihanna? Justin Timberlake? Because they don't! 

I won't go into the ghost-writing debate any further, because I'm sure you all understand that it's stupid to get angry at someone who isn't professionally a writer for getting help when writing a book. 

My anger lies with the bitter attitude towards fashion and beauty blogging / vlogging that has emerged from the media's anti-Zoella campaign. 

Back when I wrote the first Zoella post, there were already a bunch of bra-burning journalists on their high horse wielding their 'my idea of feminism is better than yours' flag, suggesting that Zoella was a bad female role-model because she talked about make-up and clothes. 

This point has been grabbed onto by the media to slash Zoella's career and therefore diminish the entire fashion and beauty blogging world. 

For me, there's a HUGE double standard going on here. The industry spouting all this hate towards what Zoella and so many of us fashion and beauty bloggers do is the same industry that produces newspapers and magazines featuring the exact same content: Cosmopolitan, Company, Glamour , Grazia, The Independent Fashion & Style... need I go on. In fact the only difference is something I think is worth celebrating: personality. 

The majority of young girls will always, ALWAYS be interested in fashion and make-up. The fact that the media wants to tarnish every single one of those girls with the same brush and suggest that an interest in fashion and beauty comes from a place of materialism, insecurity and a need to impress the opposite sex actually makes them more harmful to the female cause than any camera-ready, blusher-wielding blogger. 

The positives of adding a personality and familiar face to beauty advice and style tips outweigh the negatives. I don't think a single person can fully associate with a features writer hidden behind a glossy page of beauty products, or a celebrity marketing something they probably never use, let alone trust the advice being given. Authenticity is something that's quite easy to find among the blogging community, and with that authenticity comes attainability. Learning how to highlight or create a smokey eye from a girl the same age, sitting in her bedroom, using make-up she's paid for with her part-time job makes fashion and beauty a more attainable industry. The more attainable young girls find these industries, the more encouraged they'll be to explore, create and express themselves through these mediums, and there's nothing wrong with that. 

Of course there are lots of bloggers out there whose blogging hobbies have turned into full-time careers, and that should be encouraged. Youth employment is a major issue, and for anyone to achieve what bloggers like Zoella have achieved just by creating their own corner of the internet, is admirable. 

The media's childish hounding of successful internet creatives reeks of jealousy and sabotage. It's the internet and social media we're talking about here. It was only a matter of time before bloggers became just as influential as magazines, and I feel 2015 will be the year that it goes full steam ahead, and is embraced fully. 

Some people can't accept change. I get that. But instead of trying to trip up those making something of themselves when an opportunity is handed to them, why not embrace the change? There's no reason why print journalism and blogging can't live side-by-side in harmony. But magazines are becoming a bit predictable, and click-bait tactics are wearing thin, so if things carry on and push comes to shove, blogging will win. 


Friday, 19 December 2014

Belated Blogmas Day 17: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

So for part two of mine and Gabbie's Christmas bakes we made gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. All the Christmas flavours. They're so sweet but so moreish. My piping skills aren't that great, but if you're a dab hand at it, you can make these look truly stunning. 


200g plain flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
340g butter
300g caster sugar
3 tbsp molasses (or honey / treacle / maple syrup / muscavado sugar) 
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract 

For the Frosting

500g icing sugar
113g cream cheese
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
2-4 tbsp double cream. 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C . Whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. 

 2. In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 

3. Add molasses (or substitute). Beat until combined. 

4.Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one until incorporated. 

5. Beat in vanilla. Gradually mix in flour mixture until combined. 

6. Divide the mixture evenly among the cases, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean. 

7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. 

8. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.Add vanilla, cinnamon and 2 tbsp heavy cream and mix until smooth. Gradually mix in the icing sugar. 

9. Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and store in an airtight container. 

These are packed full of all the flavours that resonate with Christmas. It's literally Christmas in your mouth when you're eating these!. 


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Belated Blogmas Day 16: Christmas Baking Part 1: Oreo Fudge

So on Tuesday me and my friend Gabbie decided to get together for a Christmas baking day. Not only did we end up with some awesome baked goods to give as gifts, but we really got in the Christmas mood. Baking is so much more fun and stress-free when you do it with a friend. Here's our gooey and downright tasty Oreo Fudge. It's ridiculously easy to make and requires very little ingredients. Minus the chilling time, it'll probs take you 30 minutes max!

230g cream cheese 
500g Icing Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
425g white chocolate, chopped
15 Oreo cookies, broken into chunks

1. In a bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. 

2. In a heatproof  bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat white chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth.
3. Stir in the melted white chocolate.  

4. Add 3/4 of the Oreos into the cream cheese mixture. 

5. Spread into a baking dish lined with either cling film or baking paper. 

6. Press the remaining cookies into the top of the fudge. 
7. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before cutting. 

7. Cut into 1 inch squares. 

Wrapped up in tissue paper, these would make perfect Christmas gifts for someone with a sweet tooth. 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Belated Blogmas Day 15: Christmas Party Nails

When it comes to getting ready for the Christmas and New Years parties, the dress, hair and make-up top the list of getting-ready priorities. Nails are usually rushed or given the quickest coat of something that'll kind of go with your outfit, whilst hoping they don't smudge as you pull up your tights. 

But your nails can actually be one of the best and yet cheapest accessories to your outfit, and if you do something a little creative with them, you'll be getting compliments left, right and center.  

A lot of nail art out there looks pretty tricky and time consuming, so I've come up with a really quick and easy take on a french mani that requiring you have a sequin varnish, can be adapted to whatever you have in your collection. 

What you'll need: 

A nail file
A base and top coat 
A varnish colour of your choice
A sequin varnish of your choice
Nail varnish remover
Q Tips (for cleaning up around your nail) 

 1. File your nails into your desired shape. I've gone for an exaggerated talon, but this look works well on any nail shape (as long as you have a free edge). 

 2. Paint your nails with a base coat. I use Models Own 5 in 1 Top & Base Coat. 

 3. Paint your nails in your chosen colour, doing two coats to for an opaque coat. 

4. Go along the skin around your nails with a Q Tip and nail varnish remover, making sure you've cleaned up any varnish that went out the lines. 

 5. With your chosen sequin nail varnish (I'm using Topshop's Magpie), scrape the brush down the edge of your nail. Sequins will sit nicely on the edge of your nail. If they come of in big lumps, gently use your brush to slide them along your nail. Don't worry if the distribution of the sequins is inconsistent. You don't want it to look too contrived. 

6. When the sequin varnish is dry, go over your entire nail with a top coat. 

 You can really have fun with this, and the colour / sequin combos are endless. 


Belated Blogmas Day 14: Decorating the Tree

Some people say Christmas doesn't start for them until they've seen the Christmas Coca-Cola advert, or eaten their first mince pie of the year. For me, it's decorating the Christmas tree. I can watch that cheesy piece of marketing a million times and stuff myself silly with mince pies, but if the place in which I do those things isn't lit with the warming light of a Christmas tree, then I just can't get in the mood. 

If I had my way, Christmas decorations would stay up all year. The house just seems warmer and cosier than ever before. 

I love traditions and sentiment, and the ritual of decorating the Christmas tree in our house is full of it, and that's all down to the decorations. 

A lot of our decorations are linked to precious memories and hold sentimental value, so every time we decorate our tree, it's so lovely to get immersed in the nostalgia and remember the stories behind each decoration. 

Seeing as it's #blogmas  I thought I'd get all soppy and share some of the stories behind the Sofokleous family decorations. 

This is one of three decorations that Mum collected out of the Tetley Tea boxes almost 15 years ago. 
This was when times were pretty tough financially, so freebies like this helped us to keep the Christmas spirit alive. They've lasted pretty well (we lost a teddy leg along the way somewhere), and Mum likes to keep them as a reminder of getting through tough times. 

These are from when I was obsessed with purple as a little girl. I can't remember how I was, but my bedroom tree HAD to be all purple. I think Mum got them from the first ever House & Garden show. The little bag has lavender in it and to this day still has its scent. Instead of a star, I had this bear in his snazzy waistcoat at the top of my tree. 

Back when Mum was a hairdresser when we lived in London she had a client who had 8 children, and whenever she did her hair she'd always take me with her.  I was in my element surrounded by so many people to play with, (all of whom had bunk-beds, I was so jealous). Well that lady made these plump little angels, and they always put a smile on our faces remembering what a lovely family they were. Handmade gifts are always worth keeping. 

This is a decoration from the time the mini Christmas tree in my room was Teddy Bear theme.  My mum is a very creative and imaginative person, and I have such wonderful memories of the things she'd come up with to make Christmas special. As a little girl, what's better than a Christmas tree with all your favourite teddies on? 

These are also packed with London memories. These were made by the mum of one of my closest friends at my lower school in London who sadly died of a brain tumor a few years ago. They are a memory of her and the amazing friendships me and my family made whilst we lived there. 

How cute are these? These are mine and my brother's first ever Christmas decorations Mine's the Santa, and my brother's is the stocking. I think it's obvious why my Mum has kept these. They're just so tiny. 

As ridiculous as these look, there's  no way we could ever throw them away, and they just have to go on the tree. My brother made these when he was at nursery. Of all the things he made and brought home, these were definitely worth keeping. 

Do any of your decorations have any stories behind them? I'd love to hear about them. 
Comment below.