(Dress: H&M (sadly not currently online, but similar here), Bag: Radley (similar here), Shoes: Castaner)

Before an evening in London last week I dragged Joe to a quiet corner of Pimlico to grab some photos, in what can now only be described as my favourite tribute to 2007 dress I own (that isn't from the Barbara Hulanicki for Topshop collection anyway). Obviously for an evening of Kate Nash singalongs it felt wholly appropriate. Especially seeing as I didn't feel ready to reintroduce the coloured tights, brogues and denim shorts back into my collection, so tea dresses to one side, this was definitely the next best bet.

But whether it was a uniform of twee cardigans or Wonder Woman-esque two pieces a la Ms. Nash, hearing Made of Bricks on its ten year anniversary was certainly one way of spending a throw back Thursday- and felt incredibly special being in a room of twenty something girls who had all grown up with tales of broken hearts, dickhead ex boyfriends and eating too many damn lemons because they are so BITTTTA. The album took me through angsty MySpace messages and bulletins, GCSE exams, my first heartbreak (so much so my mum even says the album reminds her of that time) and even initially being introduced to Birds by my oldest cousin. It's certainly come full circle with me- and now listening to it whilst planning a wedding (fuck, where did time go?) I feel like it's really sandwiched together some of the most special parts of growing up and know that I'm definitely not going to tire of it anytime soon either.



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Made of Bricks



Recently I've been having a bit of a think about the term ambition. I briefly touched on it a while ago in one of my Sunday posts; a brief comment on how we view the term alongside success and how, really, I'm not sure they're directly in correlation with one another. That to be successful, and most importantly happy- you don't have to be top of your career ladder. I'm in a fortunate position to be surrounded by both hugely ambitious women, and also women who are not necessarily work driven, but thriving and successful in their chosen careers too- which I think has been totally integral in striking a balance and developing a healthy work/life relationship that suits me.

I've read a few pieces online recently talking about success- whether that's earning more, settling or striving for the next tier, promotion or prestige around the corner. The one that actually inspired this was shared by my friend Jazmine, and was originally shared on Stylist online and hit the nail on the head in so many ways.

Working online, there's an unspoken pressure about living the to the best of the best- to the absolute top of your game whilst being a total #girlboss in the meantime. It's great feeling inspired- whether that be to book a holiday or try a new dinner on a Monday night- but it's okay to not want to try a new recipe and then strive for a restaurant opening the week after. Living a good life isn't just about earning a high salary, ticking off far flung destinations and buying nice things every week. For some people it might be, but that doesn't apply for everyone- and I think it's so important to recognise that- and know whether you strive for those things or not, it shouldn't dictate your level, or perception, of success.

And of course, it's making sure that it's coming from a place that makes you happy. The piece touched on the fact that admitting you're not overtly ambitious is fine, as long as 'you are not in truth shying away from challenges because of a lack of confidence'- which I equally think is incredibly important too. In a sense, I do think I've always struggled with ambition because I've never seen myself as capable. I've always felt that there's an essence of blag in what I do, where people have often said 'Oh! you've landed on your feet!' Which has always made me question my actual ability- and left me with a constant fear, or, that people expect me to have a solid five year plan in place (I don't yet, but I'm working on it).

Naturally, I finish this after reading an awe inspiring piece about Emily Weiss- one of the few people who spark an unrivalled sense of ambition in me. Knowing she first approached venture capitalists without a product or business plan but simply an idea is truly something- and definitely shows that a bit of self belief, and setting your own ambition bar as high, or as low, as you feel comfortable- truly makes for the best outcome.

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A Talk About Work, Ambition and Defining Success



With a new routine comes new reasons to explore some favourite recipe books, old and new. With a recipe books lining a shelf in our pantry, armed and ready to supply inspiration for evenings filled with cooking for two- it's become one of my favourite simple pleasures sitting down on a Friday to do the weekly food stop- whilst fingering through pages of new bakes and dinners- mulling over mutual loves and things we'll try for the week ahead...

One of my favourite new books from that shelf has to be Laura Jackson and Alice Levine's, Round to Ours. Already being two of my favourite people- be it for their style or skills (be it supper clubs to podcasting), I've been so excited to take one of their recipes for a spin. Although the book is mainly menus for gorgeous gatherings and delightful dinner parties, there are dishes that can cater for afternoon treats and simple suppers- with the salted caramel brownies from their 'Movie Night' menu particularly piquing my interest. So, with dinner with friends in the diary, I decided to bake these and take them along as a surprise desert- and it's safe to say they went down a total storm! I thought I'd share the recipe here, and can guarantee if you like this, you'll love the rest of the book too.



You Will Need:
100g Dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
125g Unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g Granulated sugar
2 Large eggs
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp flaky sea salt
100g Plain flour
12 Squares of milk chocolate containing caramel pieces (I used Galaxy Caramel)

- Heat your oven to 170 degrees. Line a baking tin (28 x 20cm), with baking parchment, leaving extra up around the sides.

- Place the dark chocolate and butter in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water) and leave until just melted.

- Take off the heat and use a balloon whisk to whisk in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and half the salt. Gradually sift in the flour and then stir using the whisk.

- Pour the mixture into the tin, spreading it out so that it is even. Press a piece of caramel chocolate into the surface at regular intervals (so that when cut into 12 there is a piece at the centre of each), and sprinkle the surface with the remaining salt.

- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in an area with no caramel comes out without raw batter on it. The brownies should also be starting to come away from the edges, and gently cracking on top. Leave to cool- or eat them when they're straight out of the oven if you can't wait (and while the centres are still runny).


Recipe care of the wonderful Jackson & Levine, whose book is an absolute treasure.


x

Simple Salted Caramel Brownies

(Dress: H&M (sadly not online, but similar here), Bag: C/O YSL via Net-A-Porter, Shoes: Castaner)

Normally when I shoot outfit photos things are a little bit more considered around here. I like to find quiet pockets of London, unknown corners and spots to tell a story- but with things being a little crazy lately- Joe and I had to grab a minute in between meetings in town, making for something altogether more candid (despite the sweeping buildings still making for something pretty scenic). With the house, wedding talk (!) and a site redesign coming oh so soon, it's been a little tricky having to be hyper organised to make sure things are as tickedy boo as you deserve them to be. At the moment my blog plan is a mix of lifestyle, beauty and outfits in between bad weather- but please let me know what you enjoy the most- as I want to make sure I'm putting the time and care where it needs to be most, if that makes sense?

But the dress! Enough scatter brain chat- this dress was something I picked up last week in H&M, and having not been into store for a while made for an exceptionally pleasant surprise, and required little/no thought as to weather there was definitely a gap in my wardrobe for it. Paired with my Castañer wedges and new favourite all-weather bag from YSL (Castañer designed the first wedge espadrille for Yves Saint Laurent in the late '60s)- it felt like a failsafe (and surprisingly appropriate) look for running around town- at least before the rain came anyway...



x

The Spotted Midi


Ever since moving out, taking time in the evening after working in one spot all day to just relax and unwind has become a total treat for me. I've always been partial to a big ol' bubble bath, but more so since having my own has it almost become part of a ritual. It's half an hour to shut the door (to washing, dinner in the oven and adult responsibilities) pick out some fresh pyjamas, grab a copy of Red and totally indulge. So, today I thought I'd share some of the items that have been keeping me company during my downtime and some favourites that have pretty much become empty...

The Caddy Line Up

Who'd have thought I'd ever have a bath caddy?? Who am I? Being one of the first things I ordered when we had our moving day (priorities from a girl still without a sofa)- it's been pretty handy (and space saving, let's be honest) having these picks within arms length. My two favourite go-to bath fillers go to Fresh's Sake bath (so much so that it's now empty) and the Jo Malone Roses bath oil- both are suitably luxurious (just a capful of the oil smells delicious- with the Sake Bath also being great for reliving tension after a stressful day. I've also been loving Zoe's Bath Frosting from her Jelly and Gelato range, which is the cutest idea and something totally new to bath time. For skin care I love this Herbivore Coconut Rose body polish (style andsubstance) as well as the L'Occitane Pate Delice scrub and Refining Concentrate for a heavy duty moisturise post bath or shower. Finally, if I'm feeling a bit fancy (or, ahem, extra/hormonal) a mini Diptyque candle to fill the room for ultimate zen is always a hit, and Figuier is currently my scent of choice.




Shower Time

Let's be honest- sometimes there just isn't time for a serious soak- and that's when a put the world to rights shower is just the ticket. Although I'm not particularly fussy when it comes to shower gels- the trio that Joe and I currently love include Aesop's Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser (Joe's), the gorgeous vegan (and nearly totally natural) shower gels from YOPE- as well as this total treat from Pai, in the shape of their Gentle Genius body wash, which as well as being great for super sensitive skin comes with a konjac sponge (which has near enough revolutionised shower time for me).




On to hair! There are really only two main players in my shampoo and conditioner stakes at the moment, and although I've spoken about them endlessly (see here and here)- the Pantene Micellar shampoo and foaming conditioner really do suit my barnet to a t. Preventing grease and without weighing down (or overly softening) my hair, these two are pretty much my failsafe go-to's for when I know I'd really just like a good hair day the next day.



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End Of Day Beauty

(Jacket: & Other Stories, Dress: Reformation, Shoes: C/O Gucci via Net-A-Porter, Sunglasses: Monki, Bag: Radley (similar here)

I'm pretty sure it happened four years ago when their last album was out, but I'm certain that since Something To Tell You has been out Danielle, Este and Alana have been key players in most of my sartorial choices. Although I've just about accepted my hair will never look that great when it's that long (there's only so much thickening spray one girl can use)- there's definitely a recipe that a Reformation style tea dress, biker jacket and mannish shoes (in this case these heart-eyed Gucci loafers from my special place) have for a surefire winner.

On top of that, if like me you've been as obsessed with their album artwork as me (Laura Jane Coulson is nothing short of a genius), you'll have quickly invested in some sharp tailoring, washed denim and cat eye/'90s shades stat. Fortunately for me I've pretty much got myself two sisters I can reenact their videos with- so I guess I'm pretty much half way there, right? Next stop, record deal!



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Little Ref Dress

MEET OLIVIA

MEET OLIVIA

Hello, you! I'm Olivia, or Liv- a 23 year old girl living in London, spending most of her time blog writing, photo taking, social media updating and occasionally cake baking.

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