Monday 28 October 2013

Outfit: Hobo Chic

Shirt, Tank Top (similar), Socks and Necklace (similar): C/O Forever 21* | Shorts: Topshop via Charity Shop | Beanie: C/O Fashion Union* | Boots: Dr. Martens | Ring: C/O Papa East*
Years of "Frances, put a comb through your hair" and "is that supposed to be worn like that" when I was younger mean that I consider myself a pro at acheiving that scruffy, unkempt look. I'm not sure if that is something to be proud of but it comes in handy on those days where smart blouses and perfect hair are way too much effort (let's face it, those days are quite often). Forever 21 have certainly kitted me up so that I can look effortless yet on trend this Autumn- a Guns 'N' Roses tank top and an oversized plaid shirt teamed with my Doc Martens and studded beanie and it's punk-rocker-meets-hobo-meets-fashion-blogger all the way. This shirt has quickly become one of my favourites and it fab for throwing on over a t-shirt whilst the weather is gradually becoming cooler.
Are you in to the grungy, unkempt look?
*DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples.
Thursday 17 October 2013

Outfit: Boyfriend Jeans.

Top: Camden Market | Jeans: C/O She Likes* | Shoes: C/O Annabella-Rose* | Necklace: Topman | Bracelet: Fiorelli
I've mentioned it plenty of times on my blog in the past that I have never been fond of jeans on myself, especially if they aren't skinny enough that it looks like I have denim legs. So it's a wonder what I was thinking when I spotted these boyfriend jeans from She Likes and took a bit of a fancy to them. In fact, these are the third pair of jeans that I have acquired in the past couple of months- I think I'm slowly becoming a convert! I think it is the patchwork detail and rolled up hems that won me over with these jeans- I'm up for anything with a bit of edge and I love the rugged look paired with my glam Annabella-Rose heels which I clearly cannot get enough of! So in what direction will I head next in my jean chronicles? I think I need a pair of acid wash skinnies in my life.
What are you favourite style of jeans?
*DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples.
Tuesday 15 October 2013

Wagamama Autumn/Winter Menu 2013.

Established in 1992, it's a wonder I didn't discover Wagamama sooner. Since experiencing their japanese-inspired cuisine for the first time last year after a search to find somewhere accessible and not-too-expensive in the UK to get some good ramen, it has become my go-to restaurant of choice. So, naturally, when I was contacted asking if I would like to preview their new Autumn/Winter menu before it hit the restaurants, I excitedly accepted the invitation.
Not knowing quite what to expect of the evening, me and my momma headed down to my familiar Liverpool restaurant and were promptly seated at a long table along with a few other bloggers and press, where we were greeted by pre-opened bottles of water and wine. Throughout the night we were chatted to and asked if we were enjoying our meals by the ever-lovely staff which I think always adds a nice touch to the dining experience. Prior to the evening I had guessed that we were going to be able to pick a couple of dishes from the menu to try, but little did we know that we were actually in for quite a feast. Wagamama has eight new dishes and two new drinks coming to their menu this Autumn/Winter, and I got to try them all.

Pulled Pork Gyoza
With the chicken, duck and yasai gyozas being a Wagamama favourite, it only made sense that a new variation was added to the menu for Autumn/Winter, and this year, pork is making its debut. Steamed dumplings filled with melt-in-your-mouth, slow-cooked barbecue pork, these were delicious served with a spiced black vinegar and ginger sauce and would really help to hit the spot whilst waiting for your main meal.

Mahi Mahi Curry

After demolishing the somewhat light gyozas, it was time for a whole hoard of main dishes. The first dish was one that is brand new to the Wagamama menu and is perfect for anybody who fancies fish rather than red meat or chicken- the Mahi Mahi Curry. Whilst the grilled fillet of white mahi fish was cooked to perfection, my favourite part of this dish was actually the soft, diced sweet potatoes which complimented the mildly spicy curry sauce perfectly. As this dish is quite light, we were also served a side of Wok-Fried Greens. Simply a plate of tender-stem broccoli and pak choi combined with garlic and soy sauce, it was a perfect addition to the curry and added amazing flavour.

Duck Ramen
Mushroom Ramen
Next up was my usual dish of choice; ramen. With a nice selection of flavours already on the menu, I have always thought that these huge, hearty bowls of ramen noodles and broth were perfect for warming you up in the colder months, and this time Wagamama are giving you even more choice by adding duck and mushroom variations to the menu. Being a big fan of Asian duck dishes, this was definitely my favourite of the two- the grilled, boneless duck leg was tender with a slightly crispy skin. I still really enjoyed the mushroom ramen, however, and it is a perfect choice for vegetarians with a generous helping of five different types of mushrooms including oyster, chestnut and shiitake, with few cubes of tofu thrown in for good measure.

Kare Lomen
I know I just spoke about my loyalty to ramen but after trying this dish I may be a little unfaithful. This one has been on the menu in previous years and is back again due to popular demand and I can see why! A bowl of creamy coconut and lemongrass soup mixed with a combination of ramen noodles, stringed cucumber and beanspouts and topped with grilled chicken or prawns (I tried both- I can't pick a favourite!), this dish is both moreish yet super filling and has a nice spicy kick to it, making it perfect for when it is cold outside. One that I will definitely going back for, again and again and again.

Half Moon Pancakes
 After a short rest to let the main meals go down, we were served the course that I always have room for- dessert. Wagamama are adding a festive touch to their menu with warm, freshly prepared folded pancakes with a tangy date and orange paste hidden inside. Accompanied by a scoop of smooth and sweet cinnamon ice cream to compliment the sharpness of the paste (I would also suggest ordering a hot chocolate, too!), this dessert will definitely get you in to that Christmas spirit!
I forgot to take photos of them, but like I mentioned earlier, Wagamama are introducing two new drinks for Autumn and Winter. The first is a Beetroot, Orange and Carrot juice, which definitely has an acquired taste- I wasn't a huge fan at first, as, with most drinks that contain beetroot I found it quite over-powering, but helped along by the food it became a lot less poignant. The second is  exclusive to Wagamama as they are the first to bring this Asian beverage to the UK- Iki Beer. I have never liked the taste of beer so I didn't finish this, but it was quite light and I found it interesting that it was infused with green tea leaves- Healthy beer? Any excuse!
So, now that I have made your mouths water (and mine!), here is where I have to disappoint you. The Autumn/Winter menu isn't going to hit restaurants until October 22, but that's only a week away! For now, you will have to ogle over the delicous-looking pictures that I took at the preview, or even head to Wagamama to get your last taste of their Summer menu before it gets taken away- I'm going to miss those beef summer rolls! You can check out the menu and find your nearest restaurant at the Wagamama website.
What is your favourite Wagamama dish? Which of the new dishes are you most looking forward to trying?
*DISCLOSURE: This was a PR event, and I was kindly treated to a delicious complimentary meal!

Monday 14 October 2013

Outfit: McArthurGlen Art of Denim Part II

Top: Camden Market | Jacket: C/O Daisy Street*| Jeans: 7 For All Mankind C/O McArthurGlen*| Boots: Dr. Martens
Jeans are something that I think I should probably own more of. I mean, they're supposed to be a staple in any wardrobe, right? They're supposed to fit you like a glove, though, and that's what I struggle with- there's nothing worse than a pair of skinny jeans that have a saggy bum or that go wrinkly at the knees. However, these ones by 7 For All Mankind are heavenly- they cling to all the right places whilst still being stretchy and comfortable; I almost just wanted to leave them as they were. It pained me to cut in to them and start pulling away at the threads, but I do like the grungy finished result- who knew that holy knees could look so stylish? And we don't need to talk about my love of studs.
If you read my previous post (or if not, you can catch it here- I customised a denim jacket for a night-out look), you will know that I mentioned that I have a competition for my lovely readers. As promised, here it is!
In celebration of McArthurGlen's 'The Art of Denim' campaign, they are offering one of my lucky readers the chance to win a £50 shopping voucher to spend at one of its six designer outlets in the UK.
 If you're clueless about McArthurGlen Designer Outlets, they are fab places to find on-trend designer and premium fashion bargains for up 70% off the recommended retail price. What's not to love? You can find McArthurGlen outlets in Ashford, Bridgend, Cheshire Oaks, East Midlands, Swindon and York.
All you have to do to enter the competition is tweet me a picture of you wearing your favourite denim outfit!
For example: "My favourite denim outfit: for the @FCassandraBlog @McArthurGlenUK #ArtOfDenim Twitter competition"
-The giveaway is open to male and female UK residents.
-You must mention both myself (@FCassandraBlog) and McArthurGlen (@McArthurGlenUK) in your tweet and use the hashtag #ArtOfDenim
- I will be picking my favourite outfit to win the competition.
- In any event my decision as the competition judge and promoter is final. - I hold giveaways to say thank you to my genuine readers. Entries will be checked and accounts created solely for the purpose of entering giveaways will be disregarded.
- The giveaway is open NOW and will end at 11:59PM GMT on Sunday 20th October 2013.
That means you have just under a week to tweet your fabulous denim outfits to me! I look forward to seeing them :)
*DISCLOSURE: Sponsored giveaway. Starred items are PR samples.

Outfit: McArthurGlen Art of Denim Part I

Jacket: Diesel C/O McArthurGlen | Dress (worn as top): Forever 21* | Disco Pants: C/O She Likes* | Shoes: C/O Annabella-Rose* | Earrings: Forever 21*

Customising clothes is something that I have steered clear from since I was around eight years old,  after I realised that covering all my t-shirts in fabric glitter paint and iron-on patches didn't look as good as I thought. However, I decided that my tastes in design have matured a little now, so when McArthurGlen contacted me with a challenge to customise a couple of denim pieces in celebration of their new campaign, I thought I would give it my best shot.
Firstly, a little bit about McArthurGlen for those of you who may be unfamiliar. They have six fashion outlets across the country where you can pick up some amazing designer bargains for up to 70% off. Cheshire Oaks, the closest centre to me, is only a 20 minute drive away from where I live so I love to have an occasional mooch around to see what I can find. The other McArthurGlen outlets can be found in Ashford, Bridgend, East Midlands, Swindon and York.
This month, McArthurGlen have launched a promotional campaign called "The Art Of Denim", where until October 20 they are offering some great activities including a bespoke embroidery and monogramming service, plus discounts on some of their denim labels, so it might be worth checking out your nearest outlet for that perfect pair of jeans!
Like I mentioned earlier, I was challenged to customise some denim items, and McArthurGlen kitted me up with a wooden chest filled with studs, buttons, cotton and of course, a lovely denim jacket and a pair of jeans. I decided I wanted to show how versatile denim is and how it can be customised to be worn for a day out shopping or for a night on the town. With this Diesel jacket, I wanted to make it a little more dressy so I raided a box of lace trimmings and found a couple of pieces that I thought would be perfect for adding that special touch. Teamed with disco pants, a red lip and my killer heels from Annabella-Rose (how very "Sandy" of me), I think my jazzed-up jacket is perfect for covering up after a night of dancing.
What do you think? I also have an exciting competition coming up for one of you lovelies to win a £50 voucher to spend at your nearest McArthurGlen outlet, so look out for my next post for details!
*DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples or were bought using gift vouchers that were given to me for PR purposes.
Saturday 12 October 2013

Outfit: Winter Essentials

Dress: C/O Fashion Union* | Cardigan: C/O Forever 21* (similar) | Boots: C/O Barratts* | Coat: C/O Fashion Union* | Bag: C/O DSUK* | Necklace and Cross Ring: C/O The Accessory Stand* | Black Stone Ring: Republic | Above-the-knuckle Ring: Forever 21 | Bracelet: Fashion Union | Watch: Michael Kors
Two things that are a must for me over the colder months are a glam-looking faux fur coat to keep me warm and flattering swing dresses to hide those complimentary food babies that come with all the warming comfort food. Safe to say that Fashion Union have me well equipped for this Winter; I fell in love with this gorgeous coat at the photoshoot I was invited along to (read about it here) and it just had to be mine. I have also been on the hunt for the perfect pair of knee high boots this year as my beloved ankle boots that I normally live in just don't cut it when the rain and snow comes lashing down. Not being able to decide whether to go for a black or tan pair I settled on these ones from Barratts which I think have a unique touch and are great for indecisive minds like mine ;).
What are your Autumn/Winter must-haves?
*DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples or were bought using a gift card that was given to me for PR purposes.

Stylefruits Brilliantly British Fashion Bloggers 2013 Card Game (Giveaway!)

Back in June, I was contacted by the lovely Elizabeth from the Stylefruits UK team and was honoured that they had chosen me as one of their top 32 British fashion bloggers to feature in a card game that they were making. In the moment of excitement I agreed to be included in the deck, but over the next few busy months the project escaped my mind, until a couple of weeks ago when Mr. Postman delivered this confetti-filled parcel through my letter box.
I absolutely love how the cards turned out. Each card donned with a pretty Union Jack design and 32 bloggers in total, it is brilliant for discovering new blogs as each one features our blog URL along the side and a picture from one of our blog posts. The deck is designed to be played as Quartet with the symbols on the top left hand corner of the cards, or Top Trumps, with categories such as "blog birthday", "number of shoes owned" and "number of wardrobe hangers" (yes, I counted every single one!). Not to worry if you don't know how to play these games, however, as the deck also includes the rules :)
With that said, Stylefruits kindly sent me an extra deck to offer to one of my lovely readers. I have decided to switch things up a little bit and make this in to a Twitter giveaway, so head over to my Twitter to find out how to enter with a chance of winning! Alternatively, if you would rather just print off the deck yourself, you can do so at the Stylefruits Brilliantly British Fashion Bloggers page. You can also follow this link to apply to be featured in the 2014 edition!
Thursday 10 October 2013

Fitness: My Running Shoe Recommendations (Nike Free Run and Nike Flyknit Review).

Over the past few years I have learned the hard way how important it is to have the right footwear for your workouts. Running in converse has done no favours for my knees and shins, however, I used to insist on doing exercise in this poor choice of footwear as I hate, hate, hated the look of trainers and couldn't find a pair that I didn't think looked absolutely repulsive (I mean, we still want to look good in the gym, right?). Since then, I have not only learned that keeping the joints in my knees and ankles intact is far more important, but also that Nike makes some trainers that really don't look half bad. Actually, I adore the Nikes that I own, and I thought I would write a review on my two favourite styles for those of you who might be as clueless about fitness footwear as I was!
Nike Free Run+ 5.0: JD Sports, £80.00
My Nike Free Runs were the first pair of proper running shoes that I owned, and six months later, they're still going strong! As suggested by the name, Nike Frees are absolutely made for running and come in different styles based on how much support you require. With 3.0s, 4.0s and 5.0s to choose from, the higher the number, the more support and cushioning the shoe provides, so if you want a more barefoot feel whilst you're running, picking shoes in the 3.0 range is for you. However, to avoid any more damage to my joints I decided to go for maximum support and picked up the 5.0s which feature the Nike Dynamic Fit system which hugs your foot to enhance stability. Despite being the most supportive, they are still super lightweight which is the main selling point for all of the Nike Frees as they are ideal for an effortless run as you won't feel weighed down. I also think that Nike Free Runs are by far some of the nicest-looking trainers on the market and they typically retail around the £80-85 mark, which I think is reasonable for a durable pair of proper running shoes. JD Sports stocks Nike Free Runs in a huge range of colours for both men and women, which you can check out here.
Nike Flyknit Lunar One+: C/O JD Sports, £130.00*

More recently, I was introduced to the Nike Flyknits. Being an advocate of the Nike Frees, I was hesitant about trying a different style and nearly opted for another pair of 5.0s, but I am really glad I gave the Flyknits a chance. Once again reflective of their name, the Flyknits feature a "knitted" polyester upper which is nice and lightweight and stretches to allow movement and flexibility in your feet. The softer, less foot-hugging upper means they look a little chunkier than the more streamlined Nike Free Run 5.0s, but I still think that they are a pretty attractive shoe (well, as attractive as trainers can be). They also have a softer rubber sole which is heavenly to run on as it literally feels like you are walking on a bouncy surface. Retailing at around £130, they are significantly more expensive than the Nike Frees, but I would definitely recommend them to people who are more serious about running. You can shop the Flyknit range at JD Sports here.
Personally, I like to reserve my Nike Flyknits for days where I am running outdoors or doing a long-distance session on the treadmill as the thicker, bouncy sole is great for absorbing impact on hard surfaces (my knees are greatly appreciative), whilst using my Nike Frees for shorter treadmill sessions or for walks and weight training, as they provide stability in my feet whilst still feeling comfortable and lightweight.
I hope this little review and comparison post helps anybody who is just starting out and is looking for the ideal pair of trainers!
What are your favourite running shoes?
 *DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples. My opinion is still 100% honest and my own.