Tuesday 30 September 2014

Health/ Food: Homemade Guacamole.

I really hope you guys don't mind these quick and easy recipes that I have been posting lately; in a bid to cut out down on the amount of processed crap in my diet, I have been turning to some of my old, clean favourites and I thought they might be good to share :)
Avocados are one of my favourite foods; I like throwing them in salads or having them mashed on wholemeal toast with a little salt & pepper and a poached egg on top, but I most of all I love whipping them up in to a super flavourful guacamole and treating myself to some Friday night nachos or having it with my lunch in a mexican-style chicken wrap with spinach, hot sauce and a little bit of low-fat cottage cheese.
The benefits of avocados, you ask? They are packed full of good, monounsaturated fats which are vital for healthy weight loss (believe it or not) and for maintaining your blood cholesterol levels for a healthy heart. They are also an excellent source of brain-boosting potassium, as well as being packed full of vitamins B, E and K which keep you looking and feeling young and beautiful.

You will need (serves 4):
- 2 large, ripe avocados
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 medium tomato
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 chilli pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you would like your guacamole to be)
- 1 lime
- Salt, pepper & fresh coriander to taste

Guacamole is super quick and easy to make and it beats the store-bought stuff by miles. Half the avocados and scoop out the flesh with a spoon before mashing it to your desired texture with the back of a fork (I prefer to leave a few lumps). Finely chop the onion, tomato, garlic and chilli and stir it in to the avocado before squeezing in the juice of one lime and finishing with a few sprigs of coriander and a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
You can cover your guacamole with cling film and leave it in the fridge for an hour to let all the ingredients mingle and enhance the flavours, otherwise guacamole is best eaten fresh since avocados have a tendency to brown rather quickly. However, if you want to make a batch to last you for the next couple of days, then the acidity of the lime juice should preserve the freshness for a little longer, as will keeping the stone from the avocado and placing it in the middle of your guacamole before using cling film.
Let me know if you try this! What are your favourite ways to eat avocados?
Frances x
Sunday 28 September 2014

Event: AX Paris AW14 Press Day.

It had felt like ages since I last visited Manchester so it was quite nice to hop on an easterly-heading train for a change of scenery to check out AX Paris' AW14 collection. After a little confusion over which of Manchester's many Black Dog Ballrooms the event was being held, we finally arrived at the correct and rather trendy-looking venue to be greeted with a fashion blogger's favourite things; cocktails, cupcakes and lots and lots of clothes. With an 'AX Paris Floozy' in hand, one of my first stops (after the cupcakes) was over to the henna tattoo lady who painted a beautiful design on my hand which I later managed to smudge on my best white blazer (can't take me anywhere), before heading over to the photobooth and surpising myself with my ability to ruin a perfectly good set of photos with some beautiful fellow bloggers with the ridiculous faces I can pull. That's enough floozies, Frances.

It looks like AX Paris are getting us ready for party season with new collections full of jewel tones, sequins, lace and embellishments. I may have fallen a little head over heels with the rose print dress and the cosy-looking fur coat pictured above, neither of which I really need (woe is me). However, if you would like to purchase them for me or for yourself they will be winging their way to the AX Paris website soon!
My attention was momentarily averted from my fur coat-lust when I finally reached the food table which was laiden with enough sliders, pizzas and fries to feed a small army (of fashion bloggers). AX Paris, you know the way to a hungry girl's heart ;)

Thank you to AX Paris for a great afternoon and for sending us away with an amazingly generous goodie bag! It was lovely to catch up with some of my favourite Manchester ladies as well as chat to a few new faces! Leaving some blog love below <3

Rachel (Lost in Lipstick)
Callie Rose (Callie Rose)
Kayleigh (CoutureGirl)
Nada (Nada Adelle)
Lily (Lily Kitten)
Katie (The Quick Red Fox)

Are you excited for all the AW14 collections?

Frances x


Friday 26 September 2014

Health/ Food: Clean and Healthy Chocolate Milkshake.


With the colder weather fast approaching (even though we do seem to have been blessed with an Indian summer at the moment), it's going to be easy to want to treat yourself to lots of rich, soul-warming foods (I'll admit that I may have already done a bit of damage to a box of Celebrations this past week!). Unfortunately, too many bitesize Bounty bars aren't very good for the skin, the waistline or our overall well-being, so I have resorted to turning to this old friend to satisfy my chocolate craving sweet tooth- A clean and healthy chocolate milkshake.

You will need (serves 2):
- 3 super ripe, frozen bananas
- 2 TBSP cocoa powder (preferably unsweetened, 100% cacao- I picked up this one at Holland & Barrett).
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or any milk you prefer) to start with; you can add more if needed

Optional ingredients:
- 3 medjool dates
- 1 TBSP almond/peanut butter (Meridian is my favourite- it has no added nasties!)
- Porridge oats
- Chocolate or vanilla protein powder

The key to this recipe (apart from the cocoa powder, of course) is a perfectly ripe banana. Don't be afraid of those rather sad-looking, brown bananas that have been left unloved in the fruit bowl for a little too long- those are the best ones. These will add the sweetness and creaminess to your milkshake, and you'll want to cut them up and freeze them prior to throwing them in the blender for a nice, cold drink- Don't add ice to this recipe as it will result in a runny, watery milkshake- Not the dream.
After blending the three main ingredients in a food processor, it's up to you to modify your milkshake to your preferred taste. If it is still a little too bitter for your liking, medjool dates are a fantastic, completely natural way to sweeten it up a little (alternatively, you could add another 1/2 banana). If you are an almond butter fanatic like myself, then throw a spoonful in for a nutty taste. Also, if you want to enjoy this chocolatey treat for breakfast, adding some porridge oats to the mix is a great way to make it a little heartier, add fibre and keep you going all morning!
Whilst this recipe isn't always going to be low calorie depending on what ingredients you add (so don't think you should go drowning yourself in chocolate milkshakes!), it is a sweet-tooth satisfying, decadent beverage that is completely natural with no added refined sugars (did I mention that bananas will give you energy and cacao is packed with anti-oxidants?). Treat yourself- Your body will thank you for it ;)

Let me know if you try it! :)

Frances x

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Outfit: #FRESHERBABES Liverpool. My Fresher Experience.

Photo Credit: Deni Vev
Jumpsuit: C/O Oh My Love* | Bracelet: Fashion Union (old) | Shoes: C/O F&F* (old) | Belt: River Island | Sunglasses: C/O Firmoo* (old)

With a new academic year starting, university fresher's weeks are well under way up and down the country. Oh My Love are currently touring some of the country's top student cities and today they have landed in Liverpool, so if you're around then look out for the Oh My Love #FRESHERBABES who are out and about in city centre giving out free student goodie bags (they will also be visiting Cardiff and Bristol on Thursday and Friday respectively)! As alumni of Liverpool John Moores University, Oh My Love asked if I would write a freshers guide for students who are new to the city. As I have already written a city guide recently (read it here), I decided to take a visit to Liverpool's main nightlife location, Concert Square, to shoot in my Oh My Love garms and reminisce upon my own freshers experience to share with you (I actually can't believe it has been four years since I was a fresher- way to make me feel old!).


Moving to a new city can be scary for some, but the idea of living with people my own age and being able to sit in my own mess without my parents nagging me to tidy my room was bliss to me. Plus Liverpool is literally a twenty-five minute train journey from home so I could still do a weekly laundry run visit everyone at the weekend. In the weeks prior to moving out I posted my future flat number on my halls of residence's dedicated Facebook page (Opal Court represent) and was fortunate enough to track down all but one of the four people I was going to be living with for the next nine months, which eased the nerves of meeting them for the first time. That was until I was unpacking my final pair of socks, when the receptionist knocked on my door and told me that they had accidently placed me in to an all-male flat, meaning I had the choice of living with four smelly boys for a year (ew.) or moving all my things in to an all-girls flat (too bitchy?). Luckily, we managed to convince them to swap the one remaining flat mate who hadn't moved in yet for another girl.

Naturally, we decided the best way to bond would be showing each other our best dance moves over a jaegerbomb or three, and after a game of Ring of Fire with the flat next door we headed out with our student loans (that's what it's for, right?) to check out the Liverpool nightlife. Same for the next night. And the night after that. And probably the night after that, too. Needless to say, after a week of making utter fools of ourselves during drinking games and taking it in turns to share our oven-cook chicken nuggets and pizzas at 4AM, we were drunkenly telling each other how much we loved each other and what great flatmates we were going to be. Fast forward two weeks and we were at each other's necks over whose turn it was to take the over-flowing bin out, who had stolen whose milk and whose pot noodle was clogging up the sink. It's natural, guys; you'll get through it.

During the day time, after feasting on cheesy beans on toast and a couple of pints of water to take away the headache from the night before, we would spend a few hours exploring city centre together and checking out the fresher's fairs to see what the societies had to offer and of course, to take advantage of the freebies (free pizza vouchers for Dominos, which was just across the road from my accommodation? This student stuff was great). I didn't join any of the societies during my three years at University, although I kind of wish I had signed up for freestyle dance as I had just quit my hobby of fourteen years prior to my big move. I would urge anybody who is new to University to get involved in the clubs and societies; it's a great way to make new friends and I have only heard good things from people who have been a part of them.

Now, with the excitement of Fresher's Week, it's easy to forget what you are really there for; to study. I found the first day of my course significantly more daunting than my move-in day, starting with a stressful bus journey to my building which was conveniently (/endsarcasm) based a good fifteen minute ride away from city centre (this has since been rectified and the media faculty now has a shiny new building which is in walking distance). It really wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, however; I was on a pretty small course of around twenty students, and after a few sessions of those ice-breaker activities that we all hate know and love, we were close as ever, texting each other to ask when our deadlines were and hoping that everyone else was just as screwed for leaving it too late.

The best advice I can give to freshers is to just enjoy every minute of it because it really does fly by, especially your first year. Don't worry about making new friends, settling in to your course and finding your way around a huge new place. If you did it in high school, you sure as hell can do it here; it's just up to you to decide how much of your dignity you throw away and how fast. Also, it's fine if baked beans and super noodles are your thing, but it's really not that hard to make a spaghetti bolognese from scratch. It's not always going to be fun and games; not to scare you, but before you know it I can guarantee you will be crying in the library whilst staring at a blank word document which will soon be a 10,000 word dissertation, but it will all be worth it when you are wearing that cap & gown and you have a bunch of fancy letters after your name, a group of coursemates who are like family to share the moment with and a head full of amazing memories to take away with you. And if you have moved to Liverpool for university or you plan to, then be prepared to fall in love with the city and never want to leave. If you are new to Liverpool, don't forget that I wrote a quick city guide listing some of my favourite places to visit, which you can read here.

Are you a fresher this year? Where are you studying?

Frances x

Saturday 20 September 2014

Review: Havana Club Summer Party @ Aloha Bar, Liverpool.

Even though I can usually be a bit of a homebody and I enjoy the simple pleasures of being tucked up in my bed with an episode of Orange Is the New Black, it's no secret that I love a catch up with good friends over a mojito or three in Liverpool every once in a while. So upon hearing that Aloha Bar were hosting a cuban cocktail-themed Havana Club Summer Party*, I gathered my buddies and donning our gladrags we headed down the steps into Liverpool's best Tiki Bar for a cuban-themed, rum-filled adventure.

Greeted by super friendly shipmates with Havana Club straw hats, tiki mugs and leis to take home with us, we were led to our cuban flag decorated table and handed a shot of I-don't-know-what to get the evening started as we browsed through the menu of Aloha's exotic drinks. Naturally, we decided to start with their signature Pina Colada; a rummy, pineappley, coconutty concoction served fittingly in a hollowed-out pineapple complete with paper parasols and fruit garnishings- I could almost feel the heat of the Cuban beaches at this point. Or maybe that was the heat of people dancing and the candles that were dimly lighting our table. The perfect thing about booking a booth at Aloha is that they offer table service throughout your evening, meaning that you don't have to get up and battle against the crowds to order a drink at the bar; instead you can sit back, relax and enjoy the luxury of having your drinks brought over to you. 
 The girls and I decided that, since this was a rare occasion, it was only right that we experienced one of Aloha's Deadman's (fitting name) Chests. Served up in a treasure chest with a healthy dose of dry ice, this £50 bad boy is certainly a show stopper in more ways than one. Sipping on a deliciously sweet cocktail packed with a generous helping of Havana rum and exotic fruit juices, it's hard to gauge at what point I went from 'a little bit tipsy' to busting out my best dance moves and almost setting fire to things. Didn't stop us from trying out a special Havana Iced Tea from their event-exclusive menu though. I'm glad to say that I don't get hangovers but the other girls were certainly paying for it this morning :P

Unfortunately we arrived a little too late in the evening to enjoy Havana's live Cuban band, CubaVIDA, but we still managed to catch a little reggae and soul before the DJs had us singing and dancing away to some of our Friday night favourites.
Havana are always hosting events to show off their finest rums in authentic-mojito-style, so check their website to see if they will be bringing a touch of Cuba to your city.

Have you tried Havana Club rum? Ever visited Aloha?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: I was kindly offered this evening for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.
Friday 19 September 2014

Giveaway: Sugarhill Boutique.

If you love yourself an extra special cutesy print, a cosy jumper or an effortlessly cool skater dress, I have a treat for you today! My favourites over at Sugarhill Boutique are offering my readers the opportunity to win a £50 voucher to spend on their website. With a lovely range of Autumn/Winter perfect pieces winging their way online, of course I wasn't going to deny you lovely ladies the chance! Above are a few of my current favourite pieces from Sugarhill (you can see me sporting that fabulous unicorn print dress here), all under £50, so if any of them take your fancy then they could be yours to own if you enter below to be in with a chance of winning!
-This giveaway is open worldwide, yay! :)
-Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. There are plenty of options for extra entries!
- The giveaway will run for five days, and will end at 11:59PM GMT on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
-The winner will be picked at random and contacted via email and/or Twitter and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is picked.

Good luck ladies! Take a look on the Sugarhill Boutique website and let me know what you would spend your voucher on! :)
Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: The prize for this giveaway is kindly being provided by Sugarhill Boutique and etail PR.
Monday 15 September 2014

Personal: Why I Write.

 I don't normally like incorporating tags in to my blog but after seeing this one floating around the blogosphere and eventually being tagged by the lovely Sarah (Saloca in Wonderland), I thought I would give it a go. It's a little bit different than your usual tag post and I actually find it quite interesting to get to know the creative process behind people's blogs.

What am I working on?
Right now, I am working on bringing my blog back down to its roots a little bit. I mentioned in a blog post last month that I originally started my blog just for me, as a way of writing down my inner thoughts. This is why I am trying to intertwine some more personal lifestyle posts between my outfit posts and product reviews; my blog is an extension of me, my interests and my personality and I really want this to show.

I am also preparing to take the big leap to YouTube. It has been a long time coming and I have finally mustered up the courage to ramble at my camera in a few failed attempts at filming a video over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, this is due to a few technical difficulties, but as soon as these are sorted you will be able to watch me (and my awful accent) in all my awkward glory. Watch this space!

  How does my writing differ from others in my genre?
I think that most bloggers eventually find their niche, whether it be outfit posts, recipes, beauty reviews, DIY tutorials or a combination of a few things. However, I am a dabbler, an experimenter, and I have many passions in life ranging from fashion, to music, to healthy living, to travel, so the spectrum of topics I cover is wide because, as mentioned above, my blog is an extension of myself and I don't want to miss anything out. I hope that this way, everybody will find something that they are interested in reading when they click through my posts.

Why do I write?
I have always loved writing. When I was little I used to spend entire days penning short stories and pretend magazine articles, and I absolutely loved the creative writing parts of my English classes at school. I also think that it is because of this that I find writing to be the easiest way for me to express myself. Whether it be a quote I've read somewhere, a song or letter I've written or even a text message or email, I have always found it easier to speak my mind by text instead of voice. So naturally, when I discovered there was a way to share my thoughts, loves, hates and ideas with people through the medium of writing, I really took to it.

How does my writing process work?
In all honesty, I don't have any kind of organised routine when it comes to blogging. I have tried an endless amount of times to find something that works for me but I much prefer to blog about whatever I want, when I want to. Whenever I have tried to schedule blog posts in advance, I either get too eager to publish it or I re-read it after a few days and I hate it, so I find that it is better for me to spend a good few hours perfecting a blog post that I feel inspired to write at the time and publishing it straight away. Lately, however, I have found it very beneficial to always have a notebook to hand to keep track of what PR samples I have received and what events I have lined up so that I can plan the rest of my content between posts of a higher priority.


Now, I never know who to tag in these kinds of posts so I am not going to, but if you have done this tag then please link me to it as I have loved reading them! 

Why do you write?

Frances x
Wednesday 10 September 2014

Food: #Tweet4aTable

*Thank you to Pingkan Melbourne for taking over my camera today ;)

The Co-operative Food are currently making their way up and down the country promoting their Summer range through a Twitter-led campaign which allows people to tweet at the dedicated Twitter account with a reason why they deserve to win a table for a chance for them and up to three friends to enjoy a free drink, starter and main course at The Co-operative Food's pop-up restaurant. Hearing that the campaign was making its way to Liverpool, and not being one to turn down a catch-up with good friends over a bite to eat, I made my way over to Paradise Place in Liverpool One this afternoon, where the bright, "co-operative food green" mobile restaurant has settled for the next couple of days.

As we were greeted and seated, it was explained to us that everything that we were about to eat was The Co-operative's own produce, from the drinks, to the ingredients in the main course and even the condiments! We were handed our menus and left for a moment to ponder over the rather naughty-looking choices whilst taking a few selfies with the props they had left for us on our table (don't I just look absolutely thrilled at the thought of free food in the photo above haha).

I opted for the 'Holey Moley', a soft brioche bun filled to the brim with The Co-operative Food's "ready to cook" smokey barbecue pulled pork, gruyere cheese and American coleslaw, with a side order of spring onion cheese fries. Teamed with a squirt of mustard and ketchup, this flavour bomb definitely hit the spot. If that wasn't enough, we were also given a bowl of my ultimate weakness to keep us going whilst we waited for our main dishes to be served; nachos complete with melted cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Om nom nom.

After we had finished eating, in true restaurant style, we were brought a tip tray with a few slips of paper clipped on top. Don't worry guys, this meal is definitely for free; instead of a bill, The Co-operative Food have given us a £2-off coupon to spend at our local store, plus they jot down how much it costs to make the delicious meal you just consumed. To replicate my pulled-pork pile up and cheesy fries it would set me back a whopping grand total of... £4.47. Who said you had to spend a lot on good food? This one could be a dinner party winner.

If you are in Liverpool tomorrow or Friday (September 11 & 12), follow @Tweet4aTable and mention them in a tweet stating why you deserve to dine in their pop-up restaurant (don't forget to use the hashtag #Tweet4aTable too!) for a chance to win a table for you and up to three friends. Manchester and Newcastle, you guys keep your eyes peeled too, as the #Tweet4aTable mobile will be hitting your cities real soon!

And here, I leave you with the #Tweet4aTable menu to feast your eyes upon ;)

Have you tweeted for a table?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: I was invited along to experience the restaurant as a #tweet4atable VIP guest. All opinions are still 100% honest and my own.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Outfit: Hybrid.

Photo credit: Shane Murray
Dress: C/O Hybrid* | Coat: Primark (old) | Shoes: New Look (old) | Rings: Rare London

I find that when dressing up for special occasions or more formal affairs, it can be easy to blend in to the crowd (pencil skirt, check; cute blazer, check; court shoes, check, etc, etc.). That's where Hybrid comes to the rescue! Their huge range of evening and cocktail dresses make special use of bright hues, colour blocking and fun lace overlays to combine a touch of zest with sophistication to make the ultimate formal attire; perfect for date night, race day, weddings or even in the office.
Hot pink definitely isn't a colour that I find myself leaning towards often but I decided to tone it down a little with my trusty black coat and take the plunge with this number (the Hybrid Hannah bodycon dress), as I loved the look of the sexy satin panels that add a subtle uniqueness to a simple, classy dress. 
Who said that smart has to be boring?!

Have you heard of Hybrid before?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples.

Monday 8 September 2014

Outfit: 1949, I found you.

 Photo credit: Shane Murray
Blouse: Primark | Skirt: Ark | Shoes: C/O F&F*

Put those legs away girls, because midi is the new mini, and modest is the new sexy this season. I wore this ensemble when I went out for drinks with a friend over the weekend I ended up loving it so much I wanted to share. I have always had a fascination with 1940/50s style- from the full, circular skirts, to the pinup girl makeup, to the wavy Hollywood hair; girls from this era were on point. So naturally, when I saw that full midi skirts and culottes were making a comeback for AW14 (don't be surprised if you see them on my blog a lot over the next few months), I was excited to put a 'teenies' twist on it. I picked up this blouse for a tenner in Primark, and after a hearty debate over whether to return it (I didn't need it- story of our lives, right?), I decided to give it a go teamed with my black circle skirt and gold ankle strapped shoes, and it turns out it was a match made in heaven. Funny how that happens, eh?

Are you loving the below-the-knee trend?

Frances x

*Starred items are PR samples.