Saturday, 30 October 2010

Ooh matron

001: It's Hallowe'en (tomorrow) and I am so excited. I'm off to a party at my friend A's tonight and the theme is 'zombies'. Can you tell what I'm going as? Yes, a zombie nurse. Complete with eye patch (a la Elle Driver) two foot syringe, black nails, massive hair and PVC outfit. P. V. C. I apologise in advance if any of you are going to be in the vicinity of Manchester tonight. Noone deserves to see my thighs encased in PVC.

002: As excited as I am about getting my zombie on later, I currently feel like death. A few after work drinks last night turned into shots, pole dancing (badly) and a 2.30am finish. I blame the £1.50 double vodkas for my current state and am desperately trying to perk myself up in time for zombie o'clock.

003: I got Take That tickets! When all the ticket websites crashed before 9am yesterday I feared another Glastonbury ticket debacle (refreshing web pages for 3 hours with a hangover and no sleep was the worst thing ever) but, somehow, at 9.10am the fog cleared and the order form popped up. I was physically shaking when I was putting in my card details. Ridiculous. Take That have the ability to reduce me to a 14 year old like nothing else.

004: I cannot stop eating grapefruits. Obsessed. I fear my insides will be corroded by citric acid before long.

005: I have a cold. Again.

What are your Hallowe'en plans, my loves?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Hard as nails

I think I've mentioned on here a couple of times that I've been suffering from incredibly brittle, flakey fingernails (sorry if you're eating whilst reading this). Whether it was because of my weight loss (66.5 pounds and counting bitchez) or because of an extended period of wearing nail varnish every day, who knows. I tried all sorts of nail strengtheners, none of which made even the slightest bit of difference and one of which actually made the problem worse (OPI Nail Envy I'm looking at you). I stopped wearing nail varnish completely but still the problem remained.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I happened to be in Boots, perusing the vitamin aisle (I'm a bit of a vitamin obsessive) when I saw Perfectil. I'd never heard of it before and, at £8.99 for 30 tablets, they were far from cheap but I decided to take the plunge.

I've been taking them now for about two weeks and I am beyond delighted with the results. My nails are so strong and they're growing faster than ever before. Top marks. I've even started wearing nail varnish again and finally found time to try out Barry M Instant Effects, which every other blogger posted about four bajillion years ago. I used it over Topshop's Geography Teacher and I kind of love it. Next on my list? OPI's Bring on the Bling...

Perfectil is also supposed to help with nourishing hair and skin. Skin I can definitely vouch for, hair I'm yet to see a marked difference. I realise this isn't the sort of thing I usually post about but I thought I'd share the knowledge as I've seen a few of you girls mentioning nail problems recently.

Oh, and that gorgeous blue/green sparkling wonder on my nails in the first picture? OPI's Catch Me In Your Net. Best. Nail. Varnish. Ever.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Helen Loves... Merrimaking

Let's talk about hoods.

Animal hoods, to be specific. I've written about Merrimaking before, but have never really given them the spotlight they deserve. Animal hoods, hats and other accessories are big news at the moment. River Island have got a tiger hood/hat hybrid type thing for sale, as well as numerous bear hats and gloves. Topshop have got an owl hat, amongst others.

Let me tell you one thing, Merrimaking do it better. Fact. The business started in the summer of 2009 when, fresh out of university, Meg and Harri made 30 hoods and flogged them at Green Man Festival. And now? Well, in their words... "Merrimaking is existing as a design house dedicated to hand and custom-made pieces by independent designers."

Hoods are the main order of the day, just a few of which can be seen below, but the website also stocks incredible capes (MAJOR WANT) and this amazing sweater with the longest sleeves I've ever seen.

L-R: leopard, baby leopard, tiger, fox, lamb, wolf, custom (seriously, these girls can make you any animal you like) and bear. You can either buy them unlined and raw or, for a few extra pounds, request a lining of your choice from the selection available.

I own three. Yes, three. I have a serious hood addiction.

Wolf, March 2010 & Tiger @ Glastonbury, June 2010

I love the first two, really I do. But they've been completely blown out of the water by the third addition to my hood menagerie, which arrived today.... THE EWOK!!!

Oh look at my ewok impression. What am I please.

Seriously though, Merrimaking are such a lovely little company and they deserve all the success in the world. And, before you ask, I'm not being paid to write this and I've paid for all my hoods with my hard earned pennies. So there.

There's a permanent link to Merrimaking over in the left hand sidebar and I implore you to use it.

Animal hoods will make your life better and more enjoyable. Fact.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

NYC: There Will Be Shops

I know this is a little late but, finally, let me present to you my New York purchases. At the time I felt like I'd gone a little crazy with the spending but, now I look at the photos, I wish I'd bought more! Warning: This post may get LONG.

I am a sucker for pretty packaging. An absolute sucker. Give me a fancy little bag with some brightly coloured tissue paper peeping out of the top and I don't really care what's inside! Thankfully the contents of these two little treasure troves were even prettier than the exterior. First up... my dream purse! Found in the Betsey Johnson store in Soho. I saw this a couple of days into our trip, talked myself out of buying it and then, predictably, went back on our last afternoon and bought it. But leather, ruffles, hearts, studs and leopard print all in one purse was too good to pass up!

Next? My Sephora purchases. I went a little crazy initially and grabbed armfuls of lotions and potions but came to my senses and eventually settled on a fairly modest selection. Kind of. I'd been coveting the glitter nail varnish for ages after seeing it on various blogs and I'd had the Smashbox mascara recommended to me. Also, the Stila lip glazes were an absolute bargain. So basically everything I bought was completely essential, right?

I've already blogged about one of my Madewell purchases, but what I didn't mention in that post was that I bought two t-shirts, not just the bat one! Naughty Helen. I know there's been quite a lot of criticism of some of the Alexa Chung collection, due to the pricy nature of the t-shirts, in particular. They weren't cheap, I'll give you that but, with the exchange rate, they cost barely more than the price of a top from Topshop. The quality is lovely and the material is so so soft that I could basically live in them. Oh, and the reason I bought the skull top? Because of the phrase on it. It's one of mine and my friends' most overused phrases and I couldn't not buy it.

Finally, a few bits and pieces I picked up along the way...

1) Mirror and ring from the Marc Jacobs special items store on Bleecker. My one shopping disappointment of the trip. Most of the stuff just seemed.... a bit rubbish!
2) Nail varnish and my bling ring from Forever 21
3) Cheap Fashion's Night Out t-shirt and Blair Waldorf-esque earmuffs from Century 21. Cannot wait to wear these bad boys!
4) BEST. PURCHASE. EVER. Piggy Steamer! Bought at the MOMA Design Store
5) Gabby Sidibe on the cover of Elle. Legendary. Bought for hangover Sunday in Central Park
6) Mug and milk glass from Anthropologie. I can't stop buying house things!

I also bought an incredible Reese's ice cream bowl and some more OPI. I honestly don't understand how I didn't have excess baggage on the way home!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Outfit Post: Hello, Pumpkin

Disclaimer: Please accept my sincere apologies for the appearance of my face in the following photographs. I'd had a long day at work and, shock horror, wasn't wearing any make up. Tiredness plus the beginnings of a cold have rendered me terribly pale.

Having said that, LOOK AT THE MINIATURE PUMPKIN! It's called a munchkin pumpkin and it may well be my new favourite vegetable. I am obsessed with things in miniature. Last year I nearly lost my mind when Marks & Spencer brought out 'tiny tangerines'. Lord. Cutest. Things. Ever.

I tweeted about this dress earlier in the week. I'm not used to wearing short dresses and was extremely aware all day that, if I bent down, the office may get a view they didn't need, deserve or want. It's pretty though, and I am all about the pretty.

Look how happy I am about the miniature pumpkin! My face is filled with glee. And huge bags, nay suitcases, under my eyes. See above re: tiredness. My nails are nail varnish free at the moment as they've become terribly brittle and flaky. Any recommendations for products or supplements that might help? I've tried OPI's Nail Envy but it just makes them worse.

This post may as well be called '101 ways with a pumpkin'. I love love love that bright orange colour though, especially with the yellow of my shoes and belt and the purple of my tights. Bright colours are all I need to make me happy.

Dress & Cardigan - H&M
Belt & Necklace- Primark
Tights & Coat - Marks & Spencer
Shoes - Next

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Two Nine

Two weeks today I turn 29. 

Twenty nine.

I have no idea how this has happened or who has allowed this but, rest assured, I am FUMING about it. The past year has passed quicker than any other year before it and I've got a horrible feeling that it's just a taster of years to come. Apparently, the older you get, the quicker time passes.

To console myself, and while I take a break from checking for grey hairs/inspecting my face for wrinkles/ordering in the Tena Lady, I've made a big fat list of things I'd like. All of these things would, I feel, make the next 365 days of my life immensely better.

Especially those YSL Mohawk heels. Now, who's got £640 that they'd like to lend me?

L-R, from clockwise: Watermelon Fisheye Camera; Fujifilm Instax Mini; Topshop Duffle Cape; 50mm lens; Eerie Indiana, My So Called Life & Round the Twist DVDs; Urban Outfitters Satchel; 'In for the Thrill' Irregular Choice shoes; Tatty Devine Rabbit Necklace; YSL 'Mohawk' pumps (a girl can dream, right?)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Outfit Post: Chewbacca

How many trends can I get into one outfit, seriously?! Leather, fake fur and shearling. Slightly overkill I know, but I never have done things by halves. This coat is my new favourite thing, it's so so warm and cosy. Part of me can't wait for it to be winter so that I can legitimately wear it without looking like a mental. Not that that is stopping me at the moment.

These leather shorts are extremely comfy and pretty much thrill me as they're a size 12! For all you skinny minnies out there, that probably doesn't sound like a big deal. But I can't remember the last time I was a size 12. It must have been when I was about 14. Terrifying.

Another reason I love this coat? It makes me feel like either Chewbacca or one of the Wild Things. Both are equally enjoyable. I may even team it with my ridiculous furry boots once winter rolls around. Probably not though, don't worry.

I bought these shoes when New Look were having a 20% off promotion, which made them really rather cheap. I love them. A lot. However, they're ridiculously high and, because the heels are so thin, not the easiest things to walk in. That, coupled with the fact that it was too warm to wear the fake fur coat, meant that I changed a couple of elements of my outfit before heading off to the shops...

I bought this coat about eight months ago but have never worn it. Partly because it has three quarter length sleeves and I'm never sure what to wear underneath it. Partly because it didn't really fit me when I bought it. But I love it and can see me getting loads of wear out of it now the cold weather is coming. It's lined beautifully and has lots of nice little touches, like the frilled sleeves and the bow! THE BOW!

Fake fur coat - Marks & Spencer
Plaid coat - Dahlia via Pretaportabello
Tights & shorts - ASOS
Blouse - Tesco
Necklace - Topshop
Shoes - New Look

Clear Your Plate: Treacle Toffee

This is the taste of my childhood.

It takes me right back to munching bags of treacle toffee on Bonfire Night, the smell of fireworks in the air. It's a very simple recipe and the only real thing to watch for is that the toffee must get to the right temperature, otherwise it won't harden properly and will be more of a caramel texture.


225g dark brown sugar
225g treacle
2 tbsp cider vinegar
50g butter, cut into slices

Makes approx 1lb of toffee


1. Put sugar, treacle and vinegar in a large, high sided saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved
2. Bring, very slowly, to boiling point. Keep the mixture boiling for 6 minutes, stirring ocassionally, but watch it doesn't boil over
3. Stir in the butter, bit by bit
4. Continue to boil to the "soft crack" stage, (to test, place a little of the toffee into a bowl of cold water. If it goes hard but pliable between finger and thumb then it is ready)
5. Remove from the heat and pour gently into a well greased shallow tin about 9 inches square
6. When cool mark into squares and then, when cold, break into pieces
7. Wrap in greaseproof paper or keep in an airtight tin

8. Do not, REPEAT NOT, send me your dental bills.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Week in Pictures #8

The usual snapshots of my life. Slightly boring this week as I haven't really been anywhere or done anything terribly exciting. I'm still madly in love with the Hipstamatic iPhone app though, and feel the need to use CONSTANTLY.

1) Forever 21 sunglasses. I feel like Tom Cruise when I wear them. Bizarrely, I enjoy it.
2) New shoes of LOVE. They are so high that I totter when I walk though.
3) Do I really need 5 different lip balms on my desk? Probably not.
4) Vitamin OBSESSIVE.
5) The Slimming World regime has returned with a vengeance. I do love a good stir fry.
6) My garden by night. Avec dogs.
7) What is my face?
8) 4am coffee on my overnight charity duty. Resulted in delirium.
9) Waiting for the phone to ring and waiting for 5am to arrive.
10) Slanket + Daisy = utter warmth.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Outfit Post: Wet Look

Another Friday, another dress down day. Hurrah!

I'm sure the title of this post will attract hits from people looking for naughty things, so apologies if you are one of those people. You filthmonger you. I've embraced wet look leggings recently, and hopefully I've managed to avoid the overstuffed sausage look. I actually bought these a couple of years ago but, seeing as my legs were about twice the size that they are now, they never fitted. One of the best things about losing weight is being able to wear things that have never fitted. It's like having a whole new wardrobe!

What is life without a little bit o' bling?! I don't usually wear a lot of jewellery to work, as I get irritated by bracelets hitting the desk and rings getting in my way while I'm trying to type (I am a typing machine, did you know that? 75 words per minute. Yes sir). I thought I'd make an exception for this glorious little number from Forever 21 though. A New York purchase. Sigh.

My sincerest apologies for the cleavage-tastic photograph below. What can I say, the girls wanted to be in the picture. Also, please ignore my stroppy pout, I'm actually in a fabulous mood!

Plans for this weekend include an overnight duty at the charity tonight (11pm till 5am, lord), lots of sleep, watching The Social Network (strangely excited about it!) and lots and lots of baking. On the menu are chocolate peanut butter cookies, parkin and treacle toffee. Yum.

Any plans, my loves? Have any of you seen The Social Network yet? Give me your thoughts, hopes, dreams and desires for the weekend ahead!

Leggings - Topshop
Cardigan - Upper 5th
Vest - i love boxie
Boots - The usual Dr Martens
Necklace - I have no idea!
Ring - Forever 21
Hair - A lack of straightening