Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

Thought I would save my favourite dress of 2012 til today, end the year with a bang so to speak!  This really is the perfect dress, I adore every thing about it - the colour, the sparkles and of course the sleeves!  Not the most flattering of photos but oh well, don't have time to retake them before tonight's festivities.  We are spending the evening with my sister and her husband having a bit of food and playing some games.  I just cannot face another New Year in an overcrowded pub that you have to pay for the privilege to queue forever for drinks.  I've never really enjoyed New Years Eve (think I have only had one that I enjoyed in my life!)  Always such an anti-climax.  Far too much hype.  Doesn't mean that I can't still dress up though, I don't need an excuse for that! What are you doing tonight?

Whatever you are doing I hope you have a good one - Happy New Year you guys!


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday Sweets #13 - Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Cake

Gray bought me this Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake mix and icing as part of my Christmas present as he knew that I wanted to try this packet mix out.  He bought it from Selfridges, not sure how much it was but I do know you can also buy them from eBay and a few specialist American Food stores.  The main reason for me baking this today was to use my new Kitchen aid.  Oh my gosh, how much easier does it make baking?! I am so in love with it already!

You just empty the packet into your mixer, add water oil & eggs and mix it all up! So simple.

This is the last cake I will bake and eat this year, I couldn't let 2012 end without using my favourite new toy now could I?!  The cake is lovely and moist and the rainbow chips taste like white chocolate, nice and light and perfect with a cup of tea.  I don't think I could have eaten the cake with the buttercream covering the outside though, it's pretty sweet and I think that would have been too much for me.

Friday, 28 December 2012

2012 - My Year In Dresses

As 2012 comes to a close I thought it was only fitting to round up this fab year in the only way I know... by sharing my favourite dresses of 2012! Okay so there is a skirt in the mix but it's sequined and ace so that's allowed.   I have had a massive clear out over the festive period and there is currently a mountain of clothing in our living room (I am not exaggerating :-/) Gotta make way for 2013's dresses now haven't I!

2012 has been a fab year both for me and for A Million Dresses, I have had so many fun opportunities this year and have managed to spend time with lots of pretty faces which I hope will be even more frequent in 2013.  Next year will hopefully include trips to Cardiff & Liverpool and a party house.

These photos are a reminder to pull my finger out and get my dieting mojo back, it all starts to go downhill from July onwards :(  But hey I had a lot of fun in the process :D

Our wedding has been chosen as January's wedding of the month in the 2012 round up over on Rock n Roll Bride, eeekkk!!

Thanks for being part of my 2012, look forward to sharing 2013 with you guys!


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas Gifts

Joanna tweeted asking if I would share what I received for Christmas, I know lots of you also love this kind of post.  I'm not really one for sharing the presents I have been so generously gifted, I've also never done a haul type post and feel a bit 'oooh look how spoilt I am' in sharing.  Truth is I don't very often actually ask for anything and much prefer giving presents than receiving them.  Last year all Gray and I bought each other was a jumper to wear on Christmas day, we had only just returned from our honeymoon and had a week to sort out everyone else gifts.  That was not a fun experience and the reason I started my Christmas shopping in October this year.

I honestly cannot believe how lucky I have been.  The day started unwrapping a fox Kigu and a beautiful metallic blue Zatchels saddle bag (which I actually did ask for as Gray told me he was getting desperate and needed help! Sneaky G)  My parents have hired a holiday cottage for a week for all of us as our main present - bagsie not sleeping in the room next to the new born!  They also treated us to new dressing gowns (bye, bye used to be white skanky old one) and a few little stocking fillers.

My sister and her husband gave me a gift token which I used to buy a beautiful jumper and a heart shaped cake plate.  Gray's Auntie bought me a beautiful fur collar but the biggest surprise was yet to come... I had told Gray's family to get me gift vouchers to make it easy on them as I know how hard I am to buy for and instead they all clubbed together and bought me my dream present... a kitchenaid mixer! O-M-Bloody-G!! It's both my Christmas and birthday present from all of them and Gray but is still incredibly generous and the same colour as the one in this wishlist post - see wishlists are worth doing!

A big thank you to Char for my book clutch, Gem for the nail goodies and my secret santa for the cupcake bits - I love them all!

I hope you've all had a fantastic Christmas and have been well and truly spoilt :)


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wednesday Wants

With Christmas day over for another year that can only mean one thing, it's time to hit the sales!  I have a few vouchers to spend and thought I would share with you my current must track down list. 

I adore this dress, Whistles is one of those stores I wait for the sale and hope that my current favourite will be included.  Thankfully this little beauty is in the asos sale and I still have a little 20% off code from yourvine to use, result!  Definitely a timeless dress that I will be able to dig out year after year.

 Dress: Whistles @ asos

Following on from my recent burgundy cord pinafore purchase I am loving all things pinafore and this now bargain dress will look fab for work.  It's sold out online but still available in store.  I can't wait to team it with a pretty shirt or a jumper or two!  Even though it is sold out online you can still use the check stores option and see if they have it in your local store, fab!

I am on the hunt for this dress in my size, typically my local store only has a couple of size 6's and an 8 - boooo!  I tried it on when it first hit the stores but didn't think it was worth the £65 price tag but it most definitely is worth the sale price.

Dress: Topshop

Today is also my Sister's Birthday so Happy Birthday Lucy!


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

We Wish You A Merry Christmas...

Happy Christmas you guys! 

Hope you're all having a lovely day with your nearest and dearest and are being well and truly spoilt.  Time to take a nap in front of the TV and scoff a mince pie or three.  

My little friend wanted to send you his best wishes, all dressed up in his Christmas jumper and topped off with a little santa hat, say hello to Oreo!


Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Sparkle

I bloody love this dress! It is so easy to wear and despite the sparkle can be dressed up or down.  It's also really comfy to wear, always a winner!  That also means it's perfect for those big meals out, ha! Plenty of those coming over the next couple of days.  Its the same as this mint dress I rocked all summer, another favourite!  I'm going to be wearing this with my Christmas jumper tomorrow, very festive.  Might even have to dig out some sparkly shoes for the occasion. HO HO HO

Dress: Topshop
Necklace: H&M
Ankle Boots: Vagabond @ Spartoo*

Hope you are all ready for Christmas now, got a few hours left if you need to run round like a loony getting last minute bits. I am going to have a leisurely day dropping off cakes ready for tomorrow and maybe a bit of sale shopping if there are a few bargains to be had.  First stop Topshop!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Sunday Sweets #12 Christmas Cake Decorating Ideas

A little bit later than normal today, I've spent the whole day in the kitchen decorating these cakes and baking ready for Christmas day!  Icing cakes isn't that difficult especially if you use ready rolled marzipan and icing.  Rolling icing evenly and to the correct thickness can be tricky and it also makes a lot of mess.  Cleaning up all the icing sugar can leave work tops sticky for days so I use it as it's super quick and doesn't create much mess.  Firstly microwave some apricot jam for a few seconds and mix with some boiling water.  Brush this over the cake in a thin layer so the marzipan has something to stick to.

You should cover your cake with marzipan the day before you want to ice it.  Unroll your marzipan layer ready.

Place it over your cake and smooth it round the sides.  You kind of need to lift the sides out as you smooth your hand down the side.

Once you have trimmed off the excess use an icing smoother to give you a nice smooth finish.

For this cake I am using printed icing sheets to create a parcel effect.  You can find a tutorial to help you achieve this look here.

Firstly you need to brush your marzipan covered cake with a little boiled water.  Then cover your cake with the ready rolled icing, trim the sides and use the icing smoother for a nice smooth finish.

Cut out strips of the icing sheets using scissors and glue them to the cake using edible glue.  Keep going until you have finished the bow.

My parents always get a cute Christmas cake and this year I have chosen robin red breasts to fit the bill.  The cake is based on this one with added hearts, holly and snowflakes to make it more me.  I rolled the tree out and added a few branches before making the robins from sugarpaste.  The holly, hearts and snowflakes are all made using various cutters and the ones on the side of the cake are glued on with edible glue. 

A couple of black sugar strands have been used for eyes and a sprinking of icing sugar mixed with edible glitter forms the snow.

Have you decorated any Christmas cakes?  Link me to your creations, I would love to see them.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Hummingbird Bakery

The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook is hands down my favourite recipe book so it might surprise a few of you that even though they are my go to for the most delicious vanilla cupcake recipe I have never actually tried any of their own baked goods.  Hannah sorted me out a couple of weekends ago with an impromptu visit after stuffing our faces at Byron.  I picked two to take away with me and managed to hold off eating them for the whole train journey home!  I went for vanilla as it's the best flavour to make a judgement on and a black bottom cupcake on Hannah's recommendation.

I am not a big fan of chocolate sponge normally but black bottom is made using a darker less sweet sponge and I have to say I am converted, it was lovely!  The addition of the dollop of cheesecake and the cream cheese frosting made for a scrummy cupcake.  I wasn't sold on the vanilla though, the icing had a strange taste to it like the ready made icing you can buy in supermarkets and the sponge was quite dry.  Very disappointing!  My husband even paid me the best compliment ever by saying that he prefers my vanilla cupcakes.  Life made!

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