Sunday, 27 July 2014

What I Wore #108

Recycling outfits.
Everyone does it and I am insanely envious of the people who don't as they must have wardrobes bigger than my flat... That is the dream. Alas I must make do with my wardrobe/floordrobe/spare room bed (what do you mean it's for guests to sleep in? Where else am I supposed to store my knitwear?) and I'm not putting my heart and soul into this whinge because I do own more clothes than is strictly necessary.
Anyway, the gist of this little ramble is: I have featured this dress on the blog before (it was my graduation dress before then) but it's been about two years so I can justify posting about it again. 

Looking back I can see I paired it with a very natural make-up look as it was simply too hot to contemplate piling on the liner and eyeshadow, and surprisingly enough I have done exactly the same this time around! In all fairness though I think I have discovered my holy grail of mascaras and really don't feel my face needs anything else at the moment - review to follow shortly...

My day consisted of hopping on the train to Bluewater for lunch with my mum and nana (I do love my Kent days) and then heading out for last minute pesto courgetti supplies (prognosis: it was delicious but may add chicken or quorn pieces next time for added protein!)
In between all of this Jon very kindly took these snaps for me and I'm so pleased with them! Halfway through taking them Jon decided he didn't like how posed the photos were and began shouting hilarious prompts at me which had me in fits of laughter - I think this dispels my usual awkwardness and fixed grin, what do you think? He also likes it when I look at the floor apparently because "that's what all the other bloggers do". I think I've finally indoctrinated him!

Anyway, moving on to outfit details - the dress is by H&M and I've not actually seen anything like it in recent months so I'm glad I bought it when I did! I've paired it with my trusty Converse as I consider these my "weekend shoes", they're just so comfy and perfect for lots of walking (Bluewater's pretty big, y'know...). This nautical bag by Accessorize just hasn't left my side since I bought it, it was £16 in the sale so snap it up if you can! To add some brighter touches I painted my nails in Tanya Burr's Bright & Early nail polish - I adore the formulation, it only needs two coats for full opaqueness and the lasting power is pretty good too, I painted mine on Wednesday night without a top coat and I have just a teeny bit of tip wear! Finally I threw on this amazing Fiorelli neon necklace, it's a couple of seasons old but my mum could not stop admiring it and it really helps to lift any outfit. I particularly like it when paired with stripes so it's likely to make more appearances on the blog soon!

I hope you all have a lovely Sunday - the sun appears to have vanished from our corner of Essex today which I'm a bit miffed about! Still it means our flat is less oven-like which also means I have to finally face tidying the spare room...sob...

Love Dani

Friday, 25 July 2014

Christmas @ House of Fraser - Decor

Hi everyone,

Yes, it's another post about Christmas but I have truly been inspired this week! I know, I wait all year for summer to hit and no sooner does the sun come out I'm planning for December. I've already put together a list of gifts to buy... organised or OCD, you decide!

I expressed my adoration for the gorgeous autumn/winter goodies lined up to hit stores in this post about the House of Fraser press day, but to be honest I was equally overwhelmed by all the amazing decorations scattered around! All effort had been made to ensure we felt as though we were stepping into a veritable winter wonderland despite me arriving in the sweatiest of messes after a rushed Tube journey.

In line with this year's trends the decor has been split into four categories: Black Magic, Frosty, High Society and Enchanted Forest (my personal favourite!). Black Magic is a delightfully witchy theme with metallic glints and sumptuous black and gold pieces, whereas Frosty consisted of traditionally Scandinavian reds and whites, a very clean palette which I use myself to some degree, especially where wrapping paper is involved!

High Society is the type of Christmas decor I aspire to have one day, so decadent and glitzy, I absolutely adored the crown tree-topper as a fashionable alternative to the traditional star. I don't know about you but I never normally decorate the top of my tree as the star topper I own normally falls off a couple of hours after arranging it all, so I'm considering making a cheeky crown purchase. You know, to hand down to future generations and all that. Also how beautiful is the ballerina decoration? It's got me considering a full on ballet-themed tree, in line with the beautifully elegant!

My favourite area however was the Enchanted Forest - now this is just perfectly Christmassy, with an abundance of reindeer and the most adorable fluffy owls that put me in mind of Hogwarts in the snow...This is the theme I am most likely to recreate at home as I love the cosy chalet feel of the rustic wooden pieces - it reminds me of my childhood Christmases at my Austrian granny's house!

I cannot wait for these pieces to become available as I will most definitely be making more than one shopping trip to House of Fraser to pick up my favourites! So many people moan about Christmas decorations and gifts appearing in shops in September but I actually think it's a good thing as it allows me to budget over a few months and therefore buy MORE. Always a bonus, right?

When do you start planning your Christmas? Are you an early bird or a Christmas Eve shopper?

Love Dani

*thanks to House of Fraser for inviting me to their press day!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Thoughts and Advice on Blogging

Hi everyone,

Before I begin I would just like to make this clear - I am not claiming any particular expertise nor do I feel my blogging is successful in any way, shape or form. But I've spoken to a number of friends in the last few weeks who have expressed the wish to start a blog, but cannot quite bring themselves to start; some because they don't know how, others because they are worried and can't quite take that leap into the massive world of blogs. So this week, on the fourth anniversary of my blog, I couldn't help but recall what a daunting but rewarding feeling it was when I first hit the publish button while sat at my kitchen table after an afternoon of baking with my cousin and sisters. (You can find my first post here if you're curious...) I'm not even joking, I was super nervous (and to some extent I still am, every time I post I am conscious of that sense of anxiety) but it felt really good to sit back and contemplate something I had created myself after months and months of reading other blogs and wishing I could join in.

I've always been a part of the online world though so the jump into blogging was not as enormous as it could have been. I've had a Tumblr almost since it began and Facebook since I left school; before that it was pouring my guts out on Livejournal, writing stories on Quizilla, cultivating my own little resources site for forum signatures and icons... I even dabbled in the BBC Sport forums for a while (yeah, that was a mistake I will not make again). I am always scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. I love social media and the endless possibilities that can be found there, so I am forever urging my friends to get started and get out there! If you have ever thought of starting your own blog but shied away from it because you're nervous, or you don't know what to write, this post is for you.

Getting started
I used to be a passive reader back when I first stumbled across the beauty blogging world - my method basically consisted of Google and bookmark. It was only when I discovered Google Reader that I was forced to create an account in order to follow the blogs I adored, and from that moment on the idea of my own blog became a possibility for me because I already had the profile set up and ready to go. So my advice would be to establish your own profile somewhere, be it Blogger, Wordpress or even Twitter or Instagram if you haven't begun already. Once it's out there you'll find it easier to get your own blog up and running. I've only ever used Blogger so that's what I would recommend as I find the templates and general set up pretty easy to follow, although I hear Wordpress allows for more creativity and freedom. Do your research and pick whatever suits you! 

What's in a name?
Oh, blog names. I actually don't know where polkadani came from. I wanted a one-word, easy to remember blog title and this is what I managed to come up with. I don't love it as it obviously doesn't mean anything, nor does it adequately express the content of my blog, but it has stuck and so I will continue with it unless I can come up with anything better (unlikely). I would love something really snappy or cool but as I'm neither of those things perhaps it is for the best! Anyway, I don't think it's terribly important what you decide to name your blog - it's not permanent and half the time when I read blogs I don't ponder the name at all - as long as you enjoy putting together your content it will show and people will come back to read more! That said, my personal preference is for short names and the more puns the better (but that could just be me as I do appreciate a good pun...). I also really like blogs named after their owners, so I might rename mine once I get married as it's going to be so alliterative (I also appreciate alliteration, what can I say).

Prettify your page
Again I can only comment on Blogger here but I find the premade templates get old pretty quickly. I used to dabble in funky backgrounds and crowded headers but as I've (ahem) matured, I find myself leaning towards clean and simple. I tend to make headers myself in Photoshop using free fonts, but there are no real rules here - just choose a colour palette you like and go from there. Again Google comes in super handy for looking up stock images, finding HTML button tutorials, or you could even get a freelance designer to help you create something totally unique and suited to you. Just don't steal another blogger's code - not cool, never cool.

What to write about?
Write the blog you want to read.
Write about things you love.
I think this works across the board - food, make up, clothes, nail varnish, travel, books, films, celebs, Pokemon, Warhammer - if you are truly enamoured with a topic it will show in your writing! I love so many things so if something inspires me I'll pop it on the blog. Initially I started just writing about beauty but eventually gave way to the pressures of my ever-growing wardrobe; now if I have gone somewhere nice or photographed something pretty I will try to blog about it. The most important thing is not to put pressure on yourself - I do beat myself up sometimes over my sporadic posting but I would rather only blog when I really feel like it instead of forcing myself to churn out content I don't care about. I have weeks where I'm not inspired at all, so I go back to reading my favourite blogs until inspiration kicks in again. So far it has always come back after a few weeks!

Photos & editing
I think there's a lot of pressure on bloggers these days to deliver editorial-style images, each glossier than the last, and admittedly I have tried to improve my photography in recent years as well, but not just for the blog - I genuinely love taking pictures and nothing makes me happier than taking pictures that people actually like of themselves (the cherry on top is when they use it as a profile picture because then I know they're happy with it, haha!). Also Jon takes most of my blog photos and he is not your typical blogger-photographer-boyfriend in the slightest (although he does a terrific job in my opinion). I still love reading blogs now as much as I did four years ago when photos were small and grainy - as long as they display the product/outfit/food then it's all good as far as I am concerned! If you are worried about your photos then there are a ton of editing apps and programs out there you can use. Personally I use an ancient version of Photoshop to brighten my images if needed, but there are some brilliant apps out there such as Afterlight or Snapseed that work a treat on iPhone pics too, and of course there's Instagram as well!

Why should you blog?
I do believe people should only blog if they're really enjoying it - this is only because when I look back over past posts I can definitely tell when I've not been feeling it and just thrown a post together because I felt pressure to publish something. But in spite of that I still love looking back over my blog as it has cobbled together a history of the past four years - through good times and bad. I also like to think some of my posts have been helpful to others and that above all is what I personally strive for. Nothing quite inspires me like other blogs and the effort bloggers put into them - I wouldn't dream of going shopping for products now without consulting a few blog reviews and in turn reading blogs has helped me construct a massive wishlist - but I also take a lot of inspiration from the way people style themselves, the way they write, live, eat, drink. I find it so easy to feel as though you connect to a person through following their blog and I hope my readers feel they can connect to me too!

I could ramble on about this topic for ages but there are others who have done so more eloquently than I have, so if you're still on the fence why don't you have a peruse of the links below and see what you think? I would heartily recommend blogging to everyone as it really is fun and so fulfilling, I love watching my little space on the internet grow each year and I'm genuinely proud of it!

Further reading
The Londoner - Lifestyle blogging 101
 Zoe London - You don't need money to start a blog
Temporary Secretary - Photography Tips for Beauty Bloggers
 Rachel Phipps - Dear Rachel...
Gh0stparties - Blogging tips and advice

I hope you enjoyed this post and please let me know if there's anything you would to see on the blog in future, I am open to all suggestions!

Love Dani

Sunday, 20 July 2014

What I Wore #107

Hello lovelies,

Now I was in two minds about posting these photos because I had one of those days where I felt my outfit looked acceptable whilst at home, but absolutely despised the way I looked once I'd left the house and had these pictures taken. Once I had looked through them all I was all set to delete them and spend the evening consoling myself with chocolate or cookies (not helping the problem, I know!), but I made a promise to myself last year that I would stop being so hard on myself when it comes to my blog and the way I present myself. I don't read blogs to gaze at carefully manufactured perfect people with perfect lives, I read them to feel as though I am connecting with real people - so I owe it to you to keep things real, I guess! So although these photos just enhance the fact that I need to adapt to a healthier lifestyle and lose some pounds (and believe me, I am very aware of this fact) I am going to pop this up nonetheless and hopefully I'll look back at this in a few months once my running has begun to have an effect on my shape, and use this post as a benchmark for my weight! Ramble over!

So on to the actual outfit... our flat is quite literally a sauna in the summers. South-facing and with lots of glass it just attracts heat and clings on to it regardless of how many windows we throw open or fans we switch on. Great in winter but an absolute nightmare when hit by 30-degree heat - and when the weather outside is equally hot and muggy, hiding in leggings and cardigans is no longer an option for me. Today I therefore threw caution to the wind and wore these ancient high-waisted shorts from Next, along with the comfiest, softest t-shirt I've ever picked up in the sale (also by Next, funnily enough). This top is so perfectly slouchy and doesn't cling to my lumpy bits and best of all was only about £6! I picked up a few more pieces in the sale which I'll no doubt dig out for outfit posts in the near future - comfort and light fabrics are key with the heatwave we have been having!

I've really been enjoying my natural curls recently, just styling the front pieces of hair and letting the rest dry naturally in little twirls. I've also been experimenting with braids and love this little boho style milkmaid plait - I just do a tiny braid on each side of my head, then cross them over and pin them into place. A few people have mistaken them for an actual headband so I must be doing something right!

Finally I selected a few casual accessories to complete my outfit, including this lovely coral floral necklace by Dorothy Perkins and my new Accessorize bag (another sale buy!), finishing off with the comfiest shoes I own - I've been a dedicated Converse wearer since I was about fifteen and Jon bought these grey and pink ones for my birthday this year. They're so perfect for weekend wear and I'm definitely going to take them on holiday with me this year for strolling around Brittany - I can't wait!

I hope you've all had a lovely weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead. I am so excited as I get to see my sister on Tuesday before she heads off halfway around the world for an Australian adventure - also a teeny bit jealous I have to admit!

Lots of love,

Friday, 18 July 2014

Christmas @ House of Fraser: Fashion, Beauty and Gifts

I know.

I know.

I love Christmas, okay? My family and friends always gaze at me in aghast horror when I mention Christmas this early on in the year but in my line of work I'm about six months to a year ahead of everyone else - we're already considering next summer - so to me it's totally normal to be discussing the festive season when July is in full swing. Thankfully I am not alone in this, as this is the perfect time for brands and stores to start previewing their Christmas delights, and I was lucky enough to visit the House of Fraser preview on Thursday - which incidentally turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year so far!

Despite the heat and humidity I feel the House of Fraser team did a wonderful job transforming their showrooms into a haven of festive spirit, with stunning decorations (so breathtaking, they deserve a post all of their own!) and heaps of beautiful trinkets and dresses - oh, the dresses... There were a couple by Untold including the black shift with the gorgeously detailed sleeves that I would love to find a home for in my wardrobe!

Typically I was captivated by the beauty products on display, with artfully arranged perfume bottles and some gorgeous palettes that I am quietly coveting. Is it too early to start my Christmas list?! If Santa could just pop that Creme de la Mer Sculpting collection giftset in my stocking I would be so pleased... And a few of the Michael Kors purses would not go amiss - how cute is the teeny cat purse?
Overall it was such a delight wandering around the various displays and although I am loving my summer brights at the moment there is a part of me now hankering after witchy dark hues and sequins - I promise I'm not wishing the summer away but there's just something about autumn and winter that I can't wait for! And I just can't resist a good Christmas jumper...

Now I could go on and on about the amazing decorations and themes that the HoF team put so much work into... And I will, albeit in a separate post as I ended up taking more photographs of the trees and decorations than anything else - what can I say, I just adore Christmas and am so excited to try and replicate some of the looks in my home this year! 

I hope you've enjoyed this and let me know if you love Christmas as much as I do, or if you just find it startling to be discussing the holiday season before most of us have even ventured on a summer holiday!

Love Dani

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Unintentional Beauty Haul

It happens to the best of us - you're out one day, innocently wandering the aisles of Boots or John Lewis or House of Fraser in search of something inherently dull such as headache tablets or cushion covers, when suddenly your feet begin propelling you in the direction of the beauty stands and the next thing you know your bank account is weeping and you're desperately trying to conceal lipsticks under the food shop in case your other half starts judging you.
Well, Jon knows my beauty habits only too well so I'm not afraid of incurring his wrath by showing you this little haul. To be fair, it did accumulate over a series of weeks and shopping outings (it makes me feel better relaying this information, okay?) But anyway, this is what I have bought recently...

Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit (£24.50) and Creamy Corrector (£19.00)
I cannot believe I have survived so long without this corrector. The MUA in John Lewis tried it out on me and I was instantly smitten! I have this in the shade Extra Light Bisque and it just brightens up the whole eye area, acting as the perfect base for concealer. The concealer is rather good - not quite deserving of all-time favourite status, but it works well with the corrector to hide my sleepless nights. This combination did set me back about £40 but it was worth it for the corrector alone - I can see myself repurchasing this!

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Even Finish foundation (£31.00)
Spurred on by the corrector and concealer success, I decided it was high time I dipped my toes into the Bobbi Brown bases (not literally - come on). The MUA recommended this for my oily skin and the colour seemed a good match so I purchased. After two weeks of use I am still not in love with it - I find it tends to sit on the skin and it definitely doesn't beat my all-time fave Estee Lauder Double Wear for longevity. After a few hours it starts to become very visible on me which I really don't like! I have started using it with a different primer and powder (after the MUA advised I would not need powder!) and it fares slightly better but I will probably not repurchase after I use it up.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in Peach Club (£8.99)
Bourjois Happy Light Matte Serum Primer (£10.99)
Ah, now these are a classic consequence of the Boots offer signs... I was all set to head to the tills with some very basic purchases when the Bourjois stand caught my eye and suddenly I was adding these two to my basket! I already have one of the lipsticks in Frambourjoise but this peachy red shade is really appealing to me at the moment. I also adore the longevity - they last for a good few hours on the lips and leave a nice tint as they fade. The primer was a necessary (!) purchase induced by the Bobbi Brown foundation as I was searching for a base that would work alongside it. I tried the Luminous version during last winter and really liked it, and so far I have been quite impressed by the matte version in terms of durability and how it makes my skin feel after application - perfect for hot summer days!

Lee Stafford Bleach Blondes Shampoo (£6.49) (not shown as it is currently in my shower...)
This was 100% caused by hair envy - one of my colleagues walked into the office last week and her hair was mesmerising, so when she mentioned it was down to this purple shampoo I made a mental note to track it down! As you know I am not blonde (obvs) but do have random bits of blonde left on the ends of my hair which have slowly turned a bit orange, so I'm hoping this will help them wake up a bit as I am trying to give my hair a bit of a bleach break at the moment. Fingers crossed!

Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess fragrance (£47)
Loads of bloggers wax lyrical over this limited edition perfume but it had never really appealed to me until earlier this year - I even recall trying it last summer and hating it on me. A few weeks ago I strolled past the Estée Lauder stand in my local John Lewis and sprayed it again on a whim - and suddenly I was hooked. I finally got my paws on it earlier this week and am just so obsessed. It smells of coconut and sunshine and holidays - I  can't get enough of it!

So that sums up my purchases over the past month or so - I will have to show some restraint for the next few weeks as I'm off to France again in August and am planning a little pharmacie splurge!

Love Dani

Thursday, 10 July 2014

What I Wore #106

Hi everyone,

Long time no speak! I know I'm always saying this but the last few months have been so hectic; it feels as though life has hit the fast forward button and I am really hoping it slows down some time soon just so I can breathe! I do have ideas for posts bouncing around my head; it's just tricky finding the time to sit down and put something together at the moment. Fingers crossed that normality will resume very soon.
In an attempt to be a better blogger and, you know, actually blog, I stuffed my camera in my bag on Sunday as we went out to celebrate Jon's birthday. Without going into much detail we have been spending a lot of time in and near London Bridge hospital recently so I managed to cajole the birthday boy into taking a couple of snaps near the river for me. So, this is what I wore...

I was feeling a bit of a rose gold/ dusky pink theme, mainly due to the top I dug out from my wardrobe (I always find forgetting to do laundry helps me be a little more inventive when putting outfits together). This is an old one from Dorothy Perkins and I had forgotten how much I love the rose gold beading on the front. I paired it with my new maxi skirt from New Look - it's such a soft, comfortable jersey material and I am quite literally obsessed with it. Seconds before dashing out the door I added some statement earrings by Fiorelli and a fab new chain necklace I found in H&M, which I really think completes the outfit! 

As a celebration was on the cards we visited Café Rouge in Hays Galleria for a quick bite to eat - I love their moules marinières so much I managed to chomp my way through this enormous tureen in about five minutes! We decided to forgo dessert and have a traditional birthday Starbucks instead - Mocha Coconut for me and Cookie Crumble for Jon. Yum!

Last week I saw online that there were all manner of amazing "book benches" popping up over London and I was so pleased to spot this Gruffalo themed one! I tried to convince Jon to sit on it for a birthday portrait but alas, he refused. I don't think he has developed the mentality of a blogger just yet...I was all set to plonk myself on it for an impromptu shoot but it was soon swarmed by pre-schoolers so I had to make a hasty getaway. I'm determined to hunt down more now!

Hope you're all having a good week, I have some more beauty bits in the pipeline that I hope to post by the weekend - including a cheeky haul...

Love Dani