5

April In Review

Mum and I have been gardening this month. We’ve planted hanging baskets (with the assistance of my very knowledgable Nana) and some pretty colourful potted plants (on a bench in the garden so that Archie can’t eat them!) I’ve also planted a bed of bee-friendly wildflowers, and some tomatoes, strawberries and scotch bonnets. I’ve not been very good at gardening in the past, so fingers crossed I’m more succesful this time!

James has visited a lot this month (yay!) This is him helping me make cupcakes. We’ve also been on a day out to Birmingham, gone on a lot of walks and watched a lot of Buffy (only one more season to go! Season 6 was my favourite so far.)

Asides from my birthday, blossoms must be the best thing about April. I’m lucky that my street is filled with blossom trees!

This is me looking groovy in my daytime birthday outfit πŸ™‚

April has been a really fun blogging month! I’ve worn these funky Lavish Alice dungarees, some printed trousers from People Tree, and a vintage jumpsuit in Sorrento. I’ve shared my travel photos from Italy, an interview with Oh Dear Drea (one of my all time favourite bloggers!) and this tasty cupcake recipe. Archie made an appearance as the Easter Bunny, I did my first ever wishlist post, shared some photos my friend Joe took of me and last but not least announced that I will be opening an etsy shop! Phew.

If you hadn’t already gathered, yesterday was my birthday. I love birthdays, and I had a lovely relaxed day staying in my pyjamas until noon, eating blueberry waffles, drinking sangria and eating out with James and my family in the evening. I’m really looking forward to travelling to the Peak District with my friends this weekend. We will be staying in a camping barn again, just like we did for my last birthday!

My last piece of news is that Archie did not enjoy his bunny date, so we didn’t bring a new bunny home. The stress of travelling to the RSPCA actually made him quite ill (maybe he thought we were going to leave him there?) But you’ll be pleased to know he’s feeling better now. Although I feel bad for making him worry, it’s good to know that he’s happy being a bachelor bunny, and that his human family is company enough!

Here’s to a succesful May! What have you been up to this month? πŸ™‚

11

An Announcement!

You guys, I have some exciting news! I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, and in mid May I plan to open an Etsy shop! I have been collecting second-hand and vintage fabric and sewing it up into these cute little elasticated waist skirts. I’ll be selling mini, midi and maxi varieties! The skirt above was the first one I made, and I just love the sixties fabric. It’s been so much fun having a big project like this to work on, and although I don’t expect to be making a living wage from selling on Etsy, it feels so good to be taking my employment into my own hands to some extent.

My yellow sewing machine makes sewing a lot more fun!

My fabric stash is getting a little out of control…

Just some of the beautiful fabrics that I’ve picked up this month

I have to say, it’s handy having an excuse to browse car boot sales and charity shops weekly, and I’m definitely getting to know my sewing machine a lot better (and it’s limitations – I wish it let me adjust the width of my stitches.) I’ll keep you updated with my progress, and when I expect to open. Wish me luck!

10

Black And White And Prints All Over

I feel very much like a “blogger” in this outfit. I’m not sure why, I think it might be the floppy hat and heeled Chelsea boots combination. It’s not often that I dress in monochrome, but I think the two different prints make my outfit interesting enough! I actually bought these dungarees from Lavish Alice in the January sales, but they tore in a couple of places literally ten minutes after I put them on. They had sold out online, so I decided that I would fix them rather than returning them and I’ve only just got around to it! I love the leopard face print, I think it’s so cute! I’m also wearing pink lipstick to stop these outfits from being too grey πŸ™‚

Β Outfit Details: Jumpsuit, Lavish Alice / Boots, New Look / Blouse, Vintage / Hat, H&M

Can you see that there’s only a little bit of blonde left at the end of my hair? It’s taken me three years to grow out my bleached hair and it feels so much healthier, but I’m itching for a change! If I do my MSc this year then it might be my last chance to have rainbow hair before I have to look respectable and employable and such. I also don’t want to damage my hair again, after all these years of restraint, and I can’t afford to have it done professionally. Oh, life’s decision are hard!

8

Birthday Wishlist

I have never done a wish list on this blog, but since my birthday’s coming up and I seem to have spent a lot of time window shopping online recently, I thought it was about time! Do you ever think about what you would do if you won a million pounds? I do, and I think I would spend a lot of money on a shopping spree. Although, I’m trying to buy less and wear more, so I would probably buy a few expensive but very funky items of clothing.

Β These ASOS Platforms are amazing! The pom poms are so cute, and I love the idea of embroidered shoes. I actually tried to DIY these last week, but it was not successful… I’m so glad I discovered Discount Universe. I mean, I can’t afford to buy anything from them but the crazy, colourful, over the top clothes remind me of how much fun getting dressed can be. If I had this rainbow two piece, you can bet I would wear it all summer! My love for bell bottoms is still going strong! These Miracle Eye Bells are definitely party trousers and choosing my favourite pair of Novella Royale Bells is seriously hard. How about a pair for every day of the week?

Since blogging, I’ve become more interested in makeup (although I still don’t wear very much) and I’ve been drawn to darker shades recently (although they’re not very summery!) I wouldn’t mind everything from the Lime Crime Clueless Witch collection and this halloweeny Serpentina shade. Every time I go into Lush I try on this Fantasy Gold liquid makeup – I would definitely wear it as lipstick! My hair is very problematic, and I swore by the Aussie hair care range until they were no longer cruelty free. The best cruelty free hair care I’ve tried so far is the Lush Fairtrade Honey shampooand American Cream conditioner, but they’re expensive! I loved watching the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee, and I would love to make some clothes from the Great British Sewing Bee book! I’m really into sewing at the moment, so I’d also love the DIY Couture book – I want to know hot to sew without a pattern! I follow the Everyday Sexism project on twitter and the Everyday Sexism book should be a really interesting (if slightly depressing) read.

9

The Easter Bunny

Happy Easter from me and the Easter Bunny! I hope you’re having a wonderful long weekend filled with family, hot cross buns, chocolate and easter egg hunts. I loved taking these photos of Archie, although he is not the most cooperative model. In most of my photos he’s licking the camera lens! I’m very excited because Archie has a date with a lady bunny from the RSPCA this week. Fingers crossed they like each other, and we can bring her home! I haven’t posted on here for 5 days and although it doesn’t sound very long, it feels like I’ve been away for a long time. I have lots planned for the blog next week though, so stay tuned πŸ™‚

11

People Tree

We had some lovely weather last week so James and I took the opportunity to go for a walk and a picnic lunch in Bradgate Park. I’m wearing my new trousers from People Tree! I just love the pattern and the high waist – they’re so summery! They were too small for my calves, and I knew that the size up wouldn’t fit my waist, so I sewed splits into the back of each trouser leg, and now they’re the perfect fit. All of People Tree’s clothes are sustainable and fair trade, so I always feel good about buying from them. I found these sunglasses in a vintage shop in Southampton and they’re so funky. This summer I don’t think I’ll be leaving the house without a pair of colourful round sunglasses. They remind me of the 90s and the 70s at the same time, and what could be better!?

Outfit details: Trousers, People Tree / Clutch, People Tree / Crop Top, Ebay / Shoes, Ebay / Necklaces, Waiste / Sunglasses, Vintage (The Beatnik Emporium, Southampton)

This clutch bag is also from People Tree! It’s made from a recycled sari which is pretty cool, and I love the pattern on mine. The clutch is bigger than I expected it to be – my huge phone fits inside, and I wasn’t sure that it would! I look forward to being invited to lots of summery parties so that I can take my bag. My shoes are new too. I really need to buy a sensible pair of shoes. These purple ones aren’t very high so they almost count. I love the colour, they’re the perfect height and the postage was free!

I hope your week is off to a beautiful start πŸ™‚

11

Vegan Black Forest Cupcakes

At my internship we had a team meeting every Monday, and we took it in turns to make cake. Because I was vegan, my colleagues were so sweet and made me my own vegan treat every week! When I left, they bought me this amazing cupcake book – Vegan Cupcakes Take over The World! The first recipe that I’ve used from this book is the Black Forest Cupcakes recipe. The cakes were delicious and spongy, and I never would have guessed that they were vegan! My frosting was runnier than it should have been but oh well, practice makes perfect! Here’s how:

You will need: 1 and 1/4 cup soy milk, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup margarine, 3 and 1/2 cups icing sugar, teaspoon vanilla extract, 10 ounce frozen cherries (thawed), 1 tablespoon arrowroot, 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice, a bar of vegan chocolate, 20 candied cherries, 5 tablespoons of cherry brandy (Kirsch) (Makes 20!)

Make the frosting first, so that it has time to thicken in your fridge! Beat together the margarine, icing sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of soy milk and refrigerate.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees C. Whisk together 1 cup of soy milk with the vinegar, and let it sit for a couple of minutes to curdle. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the vegetable oil. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the almond extract, a tablespoon of cherry brandy and mix it all together. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, the baking soda, the baking powder and the salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to your original bowl, and beat until smooth. Pour into cupcake cases, and bake for 20 minutes.

Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make the saucy cherries! Over medium heat, combine the cherries with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk together the pomegranate juice and the arrowroot, and pour this into your pan slowly. The mixture will thicken very quickly, so take it off the heat straight away! Then stir in a tablespoon of cherry brandy. Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a knife to cut out their middles and scoop the cherry mixture into the well.

Retrieve your frosting from the fridge, and pipe on top of the cherry mixture, covering the cupcake (in retrospect I should have left my frosting in the fridge for a little longer!) Then put the cupcake cones back on top

Pipe some more frosting on top of the cupcakes, add the glace cherries and grate some vegan chocolate over the top.

For the glaze, combine 2 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of cherry brandy in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 2 minutes whilst stirring. Pour straight over your cupcakes!

These cakes are so tasty. It’s quite an in-depth recipe, but it’s fun spending the time to make something a bit different! Also, cooking with brandy is always fun. There are so many cakes in this book that I can’t wait to make, like the Margarita Cupcakes, Lychee Cupcakes, Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes, Coconut Lime Cupcakes, Green Tea Cupcakes, Peanut Cupcakes…. the list goes on! Would you like to come round for tea? I’m going to have trouble eating all of these by myself!

2

Blogger Favourites: Oh Dear Drea

Jessthetics / An Interview with Oh Dear Drea

I was so happy when Drea agreed to be interviewed for the blog today. She writes a gorgeous lifestyle blog, Oh Dear Drea, which features travel diaries, photos from daily life in Florida, her beautiful daughter Marlowe, the (delicious looking!) vegan food she makes, and her house and garden. Her blog has always stood out to me as being an honest and welcoming space, and I can spend hours getting lost in her archives. Drea inspires me to eat better food, take more photos, and lead a more colourful life! Without further ado, here’s what the lady herself had to say :

Jess: I’m always curious about how my favourite blogs have started out. What inspired you to begin blogging, and how have you developed Oh Dear Drea into what it is today?

Drea: I actually started “blogging” or publicly writing anyway when I was 15 or 16 years old— the good ole’ livejournal days, about 13 years ago for me. Crazy, I know. I used livejournal up until I was 22 or so and then closed it up. When I became pregnant, I decided that it would be nice to start a new chapter of writing in my life—- 1. because the community I found had been so awesome and 2. because I have THE WORST memory ever. Ask me my daughters birth date—- it’ll take me while.

The blog just kind of evolved as I evolved. People found it, shared it and enjoyed it— I’ve enjoyed it too.

Jessthetics / An Interview with Oh Dear Drea

Jess: I’ve read about your transition to veganism and I am so jealous of your vegetable garden! Has your lifestyle always been inspired by nature?

Drea: I’ve always been an outdoor loving girls. Mud, salamanders, forts. I told my mom at 12 that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. At 14 I gave up chicken. And that was that, an animal and outdoor lover from the beginning.

Jessthetics / Oh Dear Drea
Jess: What does a day in the life of Drea look like?

Drea: Wake up at 7:40 every morning thanks to Marlowe’s internal clock. Cuddle marlowe. Espresso. Computer time. Garden time. Lunch time. Project time. Marlowe time. Dinner time. Story time. Marlowe bed time. About 5 hours of computer work time until Alex get’s home from work. Bed at 2 am. Repeat.

Jessthetics / An Interview withOh Dear Drea
Jess: What is your favourite thing to come out of your blog so far? What’s next for Oh Dear Drea?

Drea: Absolutely the connections I’ve made. The internet is an amazing place filled with amazing people and this blog has brought so many of them to me. Also, it’s just been amazing to watch my blog naturally grow into what it is— a business of doing things I love. It’s a pretty rad life when you get to help support your family, be at home, and do fun stuff. Ah— what’s next is exciting! Really exciting. I have a few big projects that I’m announcing this year. I’m not ready to reveal them yet, but they will be delicious, adventurous, and colorful πŸ˜‰

Thank you for being on my blog today, Drea! I can’t wait to hear about your new projects!

14

Pastels by the Pool

Pastels by the Pool / JesstheticsJessthetics / Pastels by the Pooljessthetics / Pastels by the PoolJessthetics / Pastels by the PoolOkay, so there may not be a pool in these photos as the title suggests, but there was a pool behind me, I promise! It just wasn’t filled with water, since 10 degrees is apparently not “swimming weather.” These photos were taken during my recent trip to Sorrento, on the terrace of our villa. This is what I wore to dinner on our last night in Italy, where everyone had a little too much to drink – we were some of the first to arrive, and the last to leave! I bought this vintage jumpsuit in London when I was visiting the lovely Laila. The bodice was a little long for me, so I took the sleeves in on the shoulder seam. I just love how colourful it is, and I love how wide the legs are!

Jessthetics / Pastels by the PoolJessthetics / Pastels by the PoolJessthetics / Pastels by the PoolOutfit details: Jumpsuit, Beyond Retro / Shoes, Topshop (Old) / Belt, ASOS

I’m not sure if you can tell in the photos, but I’m wearing gold lipstick, and I’ve slicked some of it over my eyelids as well, to match my golden shoes. It’s a fun way of having a golden complexion without actually being anymore tanned! I love these shoes and I’ve had them forever, but they’re impossible to walk in. I have a real problem with shoes – I only really like the look of high heels but I’m both too tall and too lazy to wear heels during the daytime, or to do any kind of walking in heels. Finding flat shoes that I like is hard!

8

Sorrento

Jessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoLast week I went on a family holiday to Sorrento, Italy. We chose Sorrento because it’s close to the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and having been to see an exhibition about Pompeii in the summer we couldn’t wait to have a look around the real thing! Now, I have seen a lot of ruins in my life and I am not usually the biggest fan, unlike the rest of my family who love archeology. Pompeii and Herculaneum were different – they are so complete it’s like being in a Roman theme park! You can walk along the streets of the town, into people’s houses and up their stairs. Because Herculaneum is nearer to Mount Vesuvius, it was buried deeper than Pompeii was when the volcanoe errupted, so even second and even third stories are preserved. The paintings are still on the walls and the Roman pots are still sitting on their original wooden Roman shelves! (See above.) Pompeii is sprawling, and we didn’t manage to walk around it in a day.

Jessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / SorrentoJessthetics / Sorrento

It rained for a lot of the time we spent sightseeing. On our last day, the sun came out and I spent the morning wandering around the pretty streets of Sorrento and eating ice cream! We stayed in this gorgeous yellow villa looking out over the sea, and I would love to experience it again during a warmer part of the year! Sorrento really comes alive in the sunshine, and the steep cliffs are so striking. Have you ever seen Pompeii? Would you like to?

P.s. I’m also guest posting on Of North today, talking about what home means to me. Check it out here!