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Latest Purchases #92 – A Birchbox Haul

I was looking to up my skincare routine now that the weather is getting colder and the heating is on. I suffer from quite dry skin in the winter so looked to the Birchbox website for a couple of new items to try out. Of course, my search for skincare soon led to other things and before I knew it, a large box had arrived on my doorstep full of goodies, followed by a second order using the free shopping points I had earned from the first one!

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First up, the two items I actually needed: moisturising cream.

I bought this jar of Aquaporin Plus by Bluemandarínes, a 24-hour hydrating cream. I always think a glass jar adds a little bit of luxury and this cream is rich yet sinks into the skin quickly and has a beautiful, delicate floral scent. I think this would work as a day or night cream.

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I also picked up a jar of Melting Moisturising Cream by Akane. Upon further reading, this brand uses the Akane red apple tree from Japan which has antioxidant properties and is perfect for normal to dehydrated skin. Whilst also quite a thick, rich cream, this has an almost matte finish which I think makes it perfect for use in the morning before makeup.

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On the few occasions that I wear my hair straight, I have been struggling with some fine, wispy pieces of hair that seem to want to curl up again so I was after some light hairspray that would hold these flyaway hairs down without a heavy, sticky feeling. Montibel·lo is a good haircare brand and I bought their Flexible Hold Finishing Spray. It sounds like exactly what I’m looking for and this huge bottle should last me a while!

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I really like the brand Weleda and their all-natural approach but I had a few hit and miss products from them this time. The one I loved was the Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash which smells amazing and is just a really lovely shower gel.

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I also picked up the Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner which I’m just not a fan of. The shampoo was fine and I will use that up but the conditioner was so thick and heavy and it left my hair really matted and unmanageable.

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Finally, I earned enough points to splurge on a luxury product I just love. At £28 for a little 30ml bottle it isn’t cheap but the Make Up Base by RMK is amazing. This milky formula sinks into the skin so quickly and leaves you with a soft, flawless base. I use this base with glowy and matte foundations and it really helps them last. I first tried this as a sample through Birchbox and it was only when it ran out that I realised how much I love it and it has actually replaced my silicone-based primers like Benefit POREfesstional as it feels much kinder to my skin.

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Overall, a pretty successful haul and I’m hoping my skin thanks me for it! x

Sunday Catch-up #42

It has been a really good week. Despite not going away this half term, I have managed to make the most of it and actually feel quite ready to go back to work and face the manic Christmas term!

This week I have been…

Making: the most of my last day off with a huge lie-in

Going: for facials and afternoon tea with my friend Cat

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Wearing: pyjamas all day today

Eating: a 7-course taster menu at our local pub

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Drinking: rum cocktails

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Reading: over my essay several times (and finding more and more mistakes!)

Watching: Suffragette at the cinema (excellent in my opinion)

Buying: make-up after discovering Bath’s new Kiko store

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Planning: my next week of lessons

Cooking: a lovely prawn pasta dish

Baking: nothing this week

Writing: my essay

Favouriting: all the tweets about Jose Mourinho

Working on: getting through all the podcasts on my phone

Trying to decide: which peanut butter doughnut to eat first!

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Wishing: I could keep my house tidier

Enjoying: eating at Wahaca twice this week…I cannot get enough of their sweet potato and feta taquitos!

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Needing: to make my overnight oats for breakfast tomorrow

Feeling: happy with my new hair cut

Giggling at: seeing James Acaster live

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Sunday Catch-up #41

A real week of two halves as half-term started mid-week for me. So far, I have enjoyed a couple of lie-ins, lots of life admin and a fair few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. My parents are staying for a few days, I have a few essay days scheduled then my friend Cat arriving and a comedy gig, tasting menu and a facial to enjoy before work takes over again.

This week I have been…

Making: appointments for a Neals Yard Facial

Going: to a pub in Bath during a student pub crawl (note-to-self: avoid in the future)

Wearing: hats

Eating: smoked salmon and eggs for a late breakfast

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Drinking: red wine

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Reading: In The Kitchen

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Watching: The Apprentice

Buying: memory-foam slippers…so cosy

Planning: essays (groan)

Cooking: my ‘Carluccio Pasta’

Baking: Pumpkin Pies!

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Writing: on my blog again

Favouriting: Fleur de Force’s America vlogs which are making me want to plan another trip there!

Working on: my ironing pile!

Trying to decide: what colour to paint our spare room

Wishing: for an extra hour in bed every weekend

Enjoying: pomegranates

Needing: to pick up the leaves currently carpeting my lawn

Feeling: relaxed

Giggling at: Gogglebox

Stylist Live 2015

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Months ago, one of my best friends Lucie messaged me asking if I fancied going to Stylist Live. I’m always up for a weekend in London with my girls so said yes and last weekend we took ourselves off to the Business Design Centre in Islington for the day.

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Upon arrival, we were handed our free tote bags by none other than Dawn O Porter and Edith Bowman (!) before grabbing a glass of free champers and exploring. The venue looked great with iconic Stylist covers hung from the ceiling. I have to admit that I’m not an avid reader of Stylist but I love the fact that their magazine incorporates so much more than just beauty and fashion such as food, art, travel, interior design and all this was reflected by the stalls and talks on offer.

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There were so many wonderful speakers over the four days that this event was on and in an ideal world, I would have liked to come every day! My friend Amy went before me and saw Caitlin Moran speak which I am very jealous about. (She wrote a great review on her blog too!)

We had tickets to see Nigella speak so headed straight there and enjoyed a talk on what food means to her, her take on the latest clean eating trends (just don’t mention juicing!) and there was  also a Q&A session.

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Afterwards, we decided to scope out the venue and stalls. There were beauty treatments and hair styling on offer, book signings, food stalls, make-up stands, gin tasting, candles, stationary, homeware…I was in heaven!

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I didn’t go too crazy but did try my very first Crosstown Doughnut (pumpkin and lemon – bloody delicious!), bought some beautiful Rituals foaming shower gel as well as this amazing goodie bag from Clarins.

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Priced at £20 for the event, I picked up a pretty coral leather make-up bag which contained some Pure Melt Cleansing Gel, a little pot of Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, some Skin Perfecting BB Cream in 01 Light, a beautiful Blush Prodige in Soft Peach, a tube of Be Long Mascara in Intense Black and a tube of Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 01 Rose Shimmer. Along with this bag, I received lots of samples too.

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I am also considering signing up for this monthly postal service from Katie Leamon. This stall had the most beautiful cards, prints and stationary and it would be such a treat to get a monthly delivery full of goodies to use. It’s not that cheap but I love the idea of supporting a new designer so I may give the Christmas edition trial run.

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Around lunchtime the queues were huge for the food places in the venue so we decided to get some fresh air and head down the road to a lovely Spanish restaurant for some grub.

When we returned, we attended the fashion show which showed 5 autumnal fashion trends and was fascinating to watch. We had planned on attending a few more talks but these were in very small rooms and sadly filled up very quickly.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this event. There was a great mix on offer and I loved that there were talks and shows as well as the shopping aspect. As with all first-time events, there are improvements to be made – I would have more selection of places to eat and drink and also ensure the talks were hosted in larger rooms as they filled up too quickly. Would I go again? Yes – it was a lovely girly day out and I came away feeling very inspired and discovered some great new brands.

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Latest Purchases #91 – Handbags

Handbags have never really been my thing – shoes yes, stationary yes and nail varnishes oh yes! However, I decided that for my 30th birthday I would treat myself to a designer handbag to remember my birthday holiday to America and also to have a beautiful item to use on a daily basis.

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Not content with one handbag, I actually ended up buying two bags, one statement and one classic, but I have quite different uses for them.

First of all, I bought this bright blue leather bag from Nine West. I love this colour and think it will work all year round. It has a lovely slouchy style and a folded over front which I think adds a cool twist. The inner lining is also really pretty. I have been using this as my everyday handbag and find it is quite roomy.

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Secondly, I wanted a ‘timeless classic’ that I could use for years to come and I decided that a black handbag would always be in style. I had a serious shopping dilemma between a Michael Kors and a DKNY bag but the latter won and I have worn this beauty a couple of times now.

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I tend to save it for nights out or the weekend just to keep it feeling special. I think the black snakeskin leather with the gold hardware is just stunning and I love the fact is a very simple, classic shape that won’t go out of style.

Latest Purchases #90 – Dotcomgiftshop

Happy Saturday! Ian is working today so I snuck back to bed this morning with brioche and tea to read a few chapters of my new book and plan to spend the day baking, blogging, pottering and doing a little bit of marking.

A little while ago, I made another order at Dotcomgiftshop (which does the most amazing sales!) Here are a few things I picked up…

First up a fun new print for the kitchen. I like the retro style of this picture and of course the celebration of all things pudding! I was going to ask Ian to hang it this weekend but after almost falling out hanging some other prints midweek I think I may need to butter him up first!

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I have phases where I find cross stitching really relaxing to do as I watch TV (it stops me constantly checking my phone too!) and this ‘Home Sweet Home’ print is a very sweet project to have lined up.

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This metal sign made me giggle. I plan on hanging this in our utility room by the washing machine when we finally decorate it.

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I really like this next item – a pastel green herb house. I saw a similar style in IKEA recently and almost bought it but thought this was a little more unique. It comes with six plant pots with blackboard-painted signs for you to add the name of your herbs on. We always have fresh herbs on the go so this will be a lovely way to grow and display them.

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I can never have too many notebooks and this pretty pink and gold design is a happy addition to the collection.

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I also picked up this pencil box to try and keep my desk tidier at work.

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I love making my baking efforts look a little bit better by using pretty cupcake cases.

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I had to bin my old flask recently as it was leaking so this is a good replacement…perfect for filling with hot chocolate when we go on an autumnal country walk!

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We always need tea towels and I thought these apples and pears designs looked very Orla Kiely-esque.

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Clearly influenced by the same designer, I bought a new jar for storing our teabags.

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Napkins.

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Despite Ian telling me we don’t need any more tins, I couldn’t resist these pretty ones and they all fit inside the big one so they aren’t taking up too much room!

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Some washi tape in pretty gingham designs.

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Some metal candle holders that I plan on hanging in the garden next summer.

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Finally, my most middle-aged purchase (which I am secretly really excited about) is this little gardening set as my knees really hurt when I have to kneel down to dig and plant stuff!

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Travel Guide: Atlantic City

Next up in my mini-series of Travel Guides is Atlantic City. When people ask me which was my favourite destination from our recent America trip, I have said Atlantic City simply because I love the beach and being by the sea. I think ‘glitz and kitsch’ sums up this place pretty well and it has been known as ‘Vegas by the Sea’. I don’t imagine that you would fly from the UK solely to visit Atlantic City but if you are in New York then I would definitely recommend adding a few days by the beach onto your trip.

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EAT

Wingcraft

Possibly Ian’s favourite restaurant from the entire two week trip, specialising in chicken wings and craft beer. We ate here several times and every meal was great.

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Boardwalk Cupcakes

If you fancy something sweet then this bakery has an amazing selection of cupcakes – I had a red velvet cupcake which was delicious.

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Cuba Libre

Located in the Tropicana Hotel, this Cuban restaurant does a mean rum cocktail and if you are feeling adventurous then I recommend the 15-course tasting menu which takes you on a culinary journey of Cuba…just make sure you are wearing your loosest jeans!

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DO

Explore the Boardwalk

I think the first thing you need to do after you have checked into your hotel is walk the Boardwalk. This four-mile stretch is the heart of Atlantic City and you get beautiful sea views as well as seeing everything the city has to offer. There are nightly light shows, firework displays and performance art as well as a huge selection of shops and restaurants to choose from. The pink sunsets are beautiful too.

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Go to the beach

A huge stretch of white sands, you must spend an afternoon on the beach. The waves are huge so expect to get knocked over at least once!

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Gamble

There are several themed casinos along the Boardwalk so you really should pop inside and try your luck either on one of the roulette tables or with the high rollers playing blackjack. We weren’t very lucky this time around but you never know when you might win big!

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Enjoy the Fairground

Along the Boardwalk is the Steel Pier which has a great little fairground on it. Depending on how brave you are feeling, have a go on one of the rides.

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Shop

Atlantic City has the Tanger Outlet shops and we went a bit crazy! Here you will find your big-named brands like Nike, DKNY, Aldo and Forever 21 and all offer amazing discounts.

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STAY

We stayed at the Atlantic City Sheraton which was a couple of blocks back from the Boardwalk but right next to the Tanger Outlet shops which was fine with me! The rooms were really spacious, there was a Starbucks in the lobby and there was parking too. Whilst our stay here was fine, I think if we came again we would probably stay in one of the hotels along the Boardwalk simply because I love a sea view.

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One of the best days of our holiday was a day trip we took to Cape May, about  50 minutes away from Atlantic City. If you have a car, you must visit this town, voted the best beach on the Jersey Shore. The beach is stunning and we even spotted a pod of dolphins when we were swimming! My dream is to return here, rent one of the beautiful pastel-coloured houses overlooking the beach and spend the whole summer playing in the waves and exploring the area. We also paid a visit to the Cape May Brewery and worked our way through their various beers which was very fun!

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Latest Purchases #89 – A Paperchase Haul

It’s September and even if you are not going back to school/ college/ university, the shops are full of beautiful stationary so it’s only right that you indulge in some notebook-related loveliness.

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I think stationary shopping can be dangerously tempting. All those planners and cute to-do-list notebooks make you feel like you are getting super-organised whilst having an Instagram-worthy desk space. I popped into Paperchase, one of my favourite stationary shops, to get a few back-to-school essentials and some not-so-essential items!

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First up, an academic diary. I long for the day I can get a January to January diary but luckily there are some pretty September to September versions available. I bought this peony-covered one and used my neatest handwriting to keep it looking beautiful!

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If I don’t write it down, then it will be forgotten about so I also picked up a new notebook for my to-do lists. I love this bright, geometric print.

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I can’t get enough of nice pens and pencils to write in the aforementioned books so I bought a set of metallic gel pens and some pretty pastel pencils. I’ve already sharpened the pencils in my new electronic pencil sharpener…yes, I am that cool!

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Finally, I picked up a few birthday cards and some birthday cups too…just because.

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I think I have also discovered where my next stationary purchases may come from – I love everything in Kate’s new shop…ahhhhh those prints!

Latest Purchases #88 – Sephora Haul

Possibly the visit I was most looking forward to making whilst we were in America, I had a list and was a woman on a mission when I went to Sephora in Georgetown, Washington! I am so surprised this store hasn’t made it to the UK but I think that just makes it a little bit more special when you do get to visit one. I picked up a range of make-up and beauty items, some I had been lusting after for a while and others I grabbed on a whim. I also bought two lipsticks which have gone missing since returning home…I’m still hoping they will turn up one day soon!

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First up, a little bottle of Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray that I bought as a present for Ian. I don’t use anything like this in my hair but I’m told this stuff is the best so like the good wife that I am, I popped one in my basket.

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Next, a bronzer from Sephora’s own make-up range in the shade Aruba. This formula has some serious shimmer so gives a lovely glow when used. It is quite dark but with a light hand, gives a beautiful golden sun-kissed look.

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I had to pick up another one of the Instant Nail Polish Removers when I saw it. It is one of the best I have used and my nail varnish was so badly chipped, I used it as soon as we got back to our hotel room! I was toying with this and the ‘white chocolate’ version from Ciate but it was such a tiny pot for the same price, I thought the Sephora one would last a bit longer.

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Next, a Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in the shade Trooper. I had been after one of these eyeliners for so long and they are raved about in the beauty world. I have used this a couple of times and am pretty impressed. The staying power is the best I have seen in a liquid eyeliner. My only complaint is that it isn’t as deep a black as I was expecting but you can build up the colour quite easily. The tip is really unique too – very fine but you can get a thick or thin line from it. I now wish I had picked up a couple of other items from her line as the packaging seems just as beautiful as the products.

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A bit of a less glamorous purchase now – deodorant! I have read a lot lately about how harmful aerosol deodorants can be so decided to try a more natural version and see how I get on. I had read recommendations for the Pure Vanilla Healthy Deodorant from LaVanila so picked up a stick.

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I picked up these Sephora Sleeping Masks for gifts and really wish I had bought myself one too!

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Next, a cleansing oil to try out from Boscia (another one recommended by beauty bloggers). I use these type of cleansers every evening and keep finding gems so hopefully this one will prove as good!

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One reason I love/ hate Sephora is how easy they make it for you to spend more than you had planned! I wanted to try out the First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads (a favourite of Lily Pebbles) but when I saw this lovely kit with their Face Cleanser and Ultra Repair Cream included, I decided to try out a bit more from the range.

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A real treat now from Tarte. Their Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blushers are raved about but quite pricey. After not buying one the last time I was on holiday, I decided to try out the shade Tipsy, a gorgeous bright coral-pink shade. I also love products that are embossed and this pretty jungle path means I will be really reluctant to use it too much!

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I have saved the best for last as this was the purchase I was most excited about trying. I love the ‘Sephora Favourites’ boxes where they select the best items from different brands based on a theme such as ‘bronzers’ (which I have bought in the past). I picked up the ‘Time to Prime’ box which contains a variety of amazing primers. Included is a Formula X Base Coat, an Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, an Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer, a Smashbox 24-Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer, a Bite Beauty Line and Define Lip Primer and a Living Proof Prime Style Extender for Hair. I think you’ll agree, this is a pretty awesome collection!

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Latest Purchases #87 – Huge US Clothing Haul

So I think it was fairly safe to assume that I would be returning from America with a much heavier case than I left with! I saved my pennies for months before I went so although this is a lot of stuff, I had been pretty restrained over the past few months and I cannot see myself buying many clothes for a little while. I love reading blog posts about clothing hauls so thought I would take a quick snap of my goodies before I packed them away in my (now heaving) wardrobe.

I bought them from lots of different places but decided to roughly group them by clothing type…first up, dresses!

I bought this pretty dress with yellow roses on from Forever 21 in Times Square whilst Ian was queuing for theatre tickets. It is quite short so I would definitely need to wear tights or leggings underneath but I think it is a perfect autumnal dress and I love the sheer long sleeves on it.

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Also from Forever 21, is this grey marl tunic. Worn with leggings, this is my ultimate Sunday outfit as it is soft and cosy but also looks great with a statement necklace if I do venture out.

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I think I must have a thing about long sleeved dresses with sheer sleeves as I picked up another one from H&M. This is navy with a swallow print and will be good for work. My mum got married in a navy swallow print dress so I think of her when I wear it!

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This dress was one of my pricier purchases but also one of those that looks so much better on than it does on the hanger. It is an H&M striped shirt dress with gold details and is just such a flattering cut. I love all the detailing on it, like the folded sleeves and gold tie-pulls and I feel like a woman who has her shit figured out when I wear it!

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A more summery dress now from a shop called Loft…stripes and lace, what more you could you want?!

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Next, onto tops and my best bargain. This shirt from Forever 21 had a label on it for about $30 but rang up as $3 when I took it to the till! I love the geometric pattern on it and it looks great with jeans and boots.

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A nice Breton-style top from Old Navy.

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A New York-inspired t-shirt from Aeropostale. I love the semi-distressed material and the images in silver foil…a little reminder of our trip to the Big Apple!

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Similarly, a cityscape t-shirt from Aeropostale in the same soft, sheer material.

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A slightly cropped red jersey top from Aeropostale. I picked this up on a bit of a whim but like that it is made from thicker material so I can wear it as it gets colder.

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Is it wrong to buy a t-shirt because you like the back more than the front? I don’t know, but I love the plaited neon of this top so much and it is made of a really soft, sheer material.

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Another purchase from Loft, I bought this pineapple t-shirt as I just thought it looked cool!

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As it was our 2nd wedding anniversary when we were in New York and it is tradition to buy gifts made from cotton, we bought each other an I Love NY t-shirt….naff or romantic?! Anyway, I plan on wearing this for working out and will have to co-ordinate with Ian to make sure we aren’t twinning!

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I bought this long t-shirt from Aeropostale (yeah, went a little crazy in that shop!) and I really like the silver geometric pattern on it. It hangs really nicely and looks ace with leggings or skinny jeans.

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A little random at-the-till purchase now in the form of this woven clutch/ make-up bag from H&M.

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Onto some shorts now, something I never used to wear but I seem to have found a style that suits my short legs! These black and white geometric print shorts are from H&M and I love them. They kept me cool on holiday and looked great with a loose black t-shirt and sandals. I’m hoping we get a few more warm weekends this summer so I can wear them again.

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Feeling emboldened by my H&M purchase, I also picked up a floral pair of shorts from Aeropostale which actually look quite like a skirt when they’re on.

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Let’s talk skirts next. As you may know, I am slightly obsessed with anchors and I just love this nautical navy skirt from Aeropostale! I’ve worn it with a plain white tee tucked in and it feels very ‘me’.

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Also from Aeropostale is this mint green lace skirt which is another one I am hoping I can wear again before the sun disappears this summer.

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Buying a whole new load of clothes always gives me a kick up the arse to have a good clear-out, mainly so I can fit everything in and also to get rid of the stuff I haven’t worn in a while. I’m really pleased with my US haul. It’s hard on holiday not to be lulled into buying really summery gear but I think I have a good mix of work and weekend wear and I luckily didn’t go over our suitcase weight allowance! x