Sunday, 27 December 2009

Work dresses

Check out this super cute work dress from Awear...

it's only £15 on sale! They have some great women's dresses and I definitely think I'll be stocking up in the sales x

Monday, 21 December 2009

"Posh" hairdo

I treated myself to a spot of pampering earlier this afternoon and got my hair done. Snow was falling, Christmas carols were playing and I was sat in a massaging recliner getting a head massage - it was heaven.
A couple of weeks ago I had seen Victoria Beckham sporting this new hairstyle in a magazine

I really liked it and even though I've never had my hair that short/layered before, I really wanted to try it. I wasn't sure I could pull it off, but I think my stylist did a good job of recreating it. I'm no Posh but I did my best posing :)



I'm still getting used to the fact that I won't be able to rely on pulling my hair back on lazy mornings and I'm a little apprehensive about styling it myself for the first time but so far I'm loving the new look!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

SNOW!

I've experienced my first English snow the past few days and it's wonderful! It's made me feel so festive and happy :)

Hubby and I went out for a walk in the winter wonderland in the morning and then spent the afternoon warm at home, playing rockband! It really feels like Christmas now...

I'm all ready for my first married Christmas, my second Christmas in England. Bring on the turkey with all the trimmings!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Winter jackets


About a month ago I bought Neil a gorgeous new long wool jacket. Unfortunately I now really want one myself! I have a puffy winter coat and a beautiful leather jacket which I love, but I'd love to add a nice long jacket to my collection if I can find an affordable one. It'd be great for the inevitable office parties and such during the holiday season. I've seen this one and a few other cute womens coats online but I'm not sure if I prefer this more casual, but still nice look or if I want something that is quite formal and dressy looking. I think I'll waiting for the post-xmas sales and let prices make the decision for me!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

AWOL

Sorry for my absence lately! My beloved macbook is suffering from technical difficulties and until I get it fixed I may not be posting much. I promise I will be back soon though and until I am I hope you are enjoying this festive season and all that comes with it :)

x Ash

Monday, 30 November 2009

Black is back

At work I have to wear all black every day. Everything from head to toe must be smart and most importantly - black. While I thought I had a lot of black clothing before I started, I now feel like I have hardly any even though I have been slowly expanding my collection.
So I can avoid having to do nonstop laundry, I'd love to add some of these cardigans to my ebony wardrobe and with them all being under £20 I think that in my post Christmas shopping, even if they're not included in the sales, they will be at the top of my list!




{Top two from Awear, bottom from Asos}

Saturday, 28 November 2009

New Moon


{Image found here}
Even though it's not celebrated here in the UK, since Thursday was Thanksgiving the hubby and I took the day off work to spend together. I had initially intended to make a full dinner, but changed my mind. Instead we just spent the day relaxing a bit and went to the cinema and out for a meal. I missed seeing New Moon with the girls because of the flooding last week so I was quite anxious to see it. I'll be honest, I was a little let down. I suppose because I had read the books my expectations were too high. It wasn't that I didn't like it, because I did, I think I just hoped it would be different. I won't get into any more details at this time since I know a lot of people still haven't seen it.
To continue on the theme, in the evening we went to the New Moon restaurant in town and had a delicious dinner of carrot and coriander soup (sauteed mushroom and smoked cheddar crostini to start for hubby) and Moroccan spiced chicken breast. The highlight was probably the desert we shared though - dark chocolate and orange tart with orange sorbet and raspberry coulis, absolutely delish!!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Winter Weather

Kendal has been swimming this past week. Heavy rain has caused some of the worst flooding in decades up here in the Lake District. Luckily it seems to be letting up! Still as I write this, it is as dark as night, cold and alternating between misty and showery. All in all, it just makes you want to curl up at home with a blanket and a warm, hearty meal.
I had the day off alone today because it was a special event at work for Neil. I took advantage of this time to do a spot of Christmas shopping but came out largely empty handed. I think online shopping is the way to go this year for price and selection since unfortunately there aren't too many shopping options here in little Kendal.
While I can't discuss my gift ideas for family and friends (I want them to be surprised!) during my virtual shopping trip today I couldn't help but notice a few things I'd like for this stormy winter! These gorgeous military style womens jackets are definitely on my list. I just can't decide if prefer the navy or the red!
Also on my list are comfy tall boots that I can wear in the rain. Pretty etched glass candle holders - filled with beautifully scented candles, natch. Vibrant, rich coloured eyeshadows and lipglosses. Comfy slippers and soft pajamas to cuddle up in, as well as cashmere lined gloves and warm scarves to wrap around me whenever I do decide to bundle up and venture out into the chilly winter air.
Have you started your xmas shopping? What's on your wishlist this year? 

Monday, 16 November 2009

Only 38 days...

until Christmas! Have you started your shopping or decorating yet? I am eager to get decorating and I've started saving for our xmas present fund, but I think I will wait until we get down to only month to go before I start any real festivities. I love the music, the smells, the food and most of all the magic of the season :) In true English style, I think I will kick off the season with the Dickensian Christmas festival in Ulverston. I can't wait!
{Photo from Martha Stewart}

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Newlyweds of the Week!

Hello everyone!
This week Neil and I are featured as 'Newlyweds of the Week' on the blog Newlyweds written by the lovely Sweet Pea :) She writes about family life in Texas and is the mother of two gorgeous twin boys. She also features some delicious recipes on her blog which get my mouth watering and my stomach growling! Please check out her interview with us here...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Thanksgiving


The all delicious holiday is coming up Thursday the 26th of November. I had originally booked a week off work with the intention of taking my new husband for his first American Thanksgiving at my parents' house, but unfortunately with the amount of time and designated days we were each able to get off work, we'd spend an entire day flying each way and only be able to spend a few days with my family despite paying a small fortune for travel expenses. Plan B was a brief trip to the city of light - Paris. Ever the romantic (and foodie), I have always dreamt of visiting one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in the world, but never found the opportunity to actually wander its boutique lined streets (whilst nibbling macarons natch). However when you add up flights, hotels, transport, food and miscellaneous expenses, it costs a pretty penny to savour the splendours of Paris. Given all the Christmas shopping looming ahead, we decided that it would be best to put aside any extravagant spending until the new year. So on to Plan C which was to cook my own Thanksgiving dinner. While I thought this would be a no brainer, I have quickly come to realize that many of the foods I took for granted may be a bit harder to come by here in the country the pilgrims celebrated fleeing so many years ago. Thus, I am now taking suggestions for Plan D! I gave up all the days I had initially booked off, but am still taking the 26th so if anyone knows where I can get pumpkin pie (or the filling to make it) any restaurants holding American Thanksgiving dinners in the UK (I’ve heard of a few in London but we live in Cumbria) or any alternative Thanksgiving related or not ideas, I would love to hear them! Hope you enjoyed the weekend!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Cocktail Thursday "Halloween Edition"

I don't know if you love Halloween as much as I do, but these Halloween cocktails will be perfect for Saturday night (or tonight for that matter!) however you choose to celebrate :)
Vampire’s Elixir

{Photo and recipe from here}

Ingredients:
- 1 and 1/2 ounces Raspberry Vodka
- 3/4 ounces White Chocolate Liqueur
- 1 ounce Half and Half
- Strawberry Syrup
Directions:
Dress strawberry syrup on the inside and rim of a chilled martini glass. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. Garnish with vampire teeth.
Candy Corn Shooter

{Photo and recipe from The Nest}
Ingredients:
- Oranje Van Gogh Vodka
- Banana Liqueur
- Coconut Rum
- Orange Curacao
- Cream
- Grenadine
- Whipped Cream
Directions:

Combine Combine Oranje Van Gogh Vodka and Banana Liqueur into a mixer with ice. Shake and pour into the bottom of the shot glass. Combine Coconut Rum, Orange Curacao, Cream, and dash of Grenadine (for color). Shake in shaker with ice and gently layer on top using a spoon. Top with whipped cream.
Eyeball Martini

 {Photo and recipe from here}

Ingredients:
- 3 ounces Vodka or Gin
- A dash of Dry Vermouth
- Olive stuffed radishes
Directions:
Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an olive stuffed radish that has been scored to create the "veins" of an eyeball.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM THE BARKERS

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Christmas Party Outfit

My company Christmas party is coming up very soon and I have no idea what to wear! All the girls will be wearing fashionable frocks as we are going out for a meal and then to a club in Manchester and I want to fit in without spending a lot of money. Looking fashionable and trendy while staying on a budget isn't exactly easy though and I'd love it if I could also get a black, work appropriate dress that I could wear again (and again) so I could justify it a bit more. I found some really gorgeous dresses but none that meet all the criteria so I'm at a bit of a loss. Hubby has offered to take me shopping at the Trafford Centre and I'd love to take him up on it, but I feel a bit guilty especially since we are thinking about a holiday to Paris next month that I'd much rather spend the money on.
All that said, I found this lovely Peter O'Brien dress that could definitely do double duty as a party and work dress but it's still a bit out of budget at £80/$132. It's not that expensive and I don't mind spending a bit for a nice quality item that I will be able to get a lot of wear out of, but given the prospect of a Paris trip I would like to stay under about £45/$75. This is still a decent amount so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll stumble across something perfect over the next two weeks...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Titles

Something I had noticed before, but never really paid much attention to was the use of titles. In the UK titles are still used regularly, as opposed to the US where it is much more infrequent. For example, when I answer the phone at work, customers always say they are Mr Bob Smith or Mrs/Miss Jane Smith. I rarely, if ever, encountered this in North America. Most people, myself included, just gave their name when asked who was calling, etc. Although modern Britain is far from the tea and crumpets image most people like to picture, there are still etiquette rules that are strongly believed in. Not using a title is considered impolite and even the title of Ms, the default for women in America, was until rather recently considered too impersonal and the titles Miss or Mrs were the proper ones to use. While this is but a small detail of expat life, it is a difference I have definitely picked up on, especially now that I am dealing with customers on a daily basis and have to remember to address them correctly. At least I don't have to worry about that until tomorrow as this Mrs will be enjoying the rest of her day off!
{Image found here}

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Cocktail Thursday

I'm sorry I have been seriously slacking with my blogging lately, I'm still adjusting to my new routine and schedule. I wake up and get ready for work, rush out the door and don't get back to my computer until after dinner and tidying up around 8ish. To top it off by then I'm usually pretty worn out and ready to just crawl into bed. That said, I'm getting better about managing my time and getting things accomplished quickly so hopefully not too much longer until I'm back in the swing of things!

I realized I forgot all about doing a Cocktail Thursday post last week so I made sure to find some that I hope you'll enjoy for this week! This week's theme is Cosmopolitans with a twist! Let me know if you give any a try and if you do, what you think of them...
Rasmopolitan
This fruity cocktail combines raspberry with the traditional flavors of a cosmopolitan.


Ingredients:
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) citrus-flavored vodka
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) raspberry-flavored vodka
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Chambord
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon Simple Syrup
- 2 tablespoons cranberry juice
- Raspberries, for garnish
Directions:
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add vodkas, Chambord, lime juice, simple syrup, and cranberry juice. Shake or stir until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with raspberries; serve.
Makes one cocktail. 
Cranberry Cosmopolitan

Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 ounces Cranberry-and-Orange Vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
- Ice cubes
- Orange peel, for garnish
- Cranberries, for garnish
Directions:
In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, orange liqueur, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Twist orange peel over cocktail and add to glass. Garnish with skewered cranberries; serve immediately.
Makes one cocktail.  
White Cosmopolitan (a personal fave) 

Ingredients:
- 1 cup white cranberry juice
- 4 ounces vodka
- 2 ounces Cointreau
Directions:
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add cranberry juice, vodka, and Cointreau. Shake to combine well. Strain into two large martini glasses. Serve immediately.
Makes two cocktails.

{All photos and recipes from Martha Stewart}

Thursday, 8 October 2009

First Week

and I've already gone home sick :/
I woke up this morning feeling okay but by about noon I had an absolutely splitting headache and felt like I was going to throw up so after I sat down for a while and still didn't feel better, they sent me home. I took some medicine and rested in bed so I'm feeling better than before, but still not one-hundred-percent. I am going in to work tomorrow no matter what though, so hopefully after a good night's sleep I'll be feeling a bit more healthy.
As for work itself, I'd say it's going pretty well! While it's taking some getting used to as it's not the kind of work I'd been intending to do and because I'm not used to such long hours and standing all day. Although I'm sure I have better hours than a lot of people, 8.45-6ish is a long day to do on your feet in heels! I'm not going to lie and say I wouldn't rather still be a housewife making dinner and taking care of chores, but it is nice getting out of the house and meeting some people.
Unfortunately a really nice girl called Sara who I've been working with this week is leaving on Saturday, but all the other girls are very nice as well and I'll get to meet anybody I haven't and see everyone let their hair down this weekend when we go out for dinner and drinks for Sara's leaving do. Should be interesting!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

20% off at Awear

In case anyone was tempted by the dresses I blogged about earlier this week, I found a 20% off code in this week's issue of NOW magazine (page 82) which says...
"To claim your 20% off, visit www.awear.com. At checkout, enter the code NOWOFFER09"
They've got the party dresses I blogged about, plus lots more I've got my eye on. Hope this helps any other shopaholics out there, but act quick because it says the offer is only valid until 13 October 2009!

Friday, 2 October 2009

I'm Employed!

As of yesterday afternoon, I am employed! Cue cheering and applause, teehee
I have taken a sales position with a small local jewellery company. There are five branches across the country and I'll be working at the head branch which is here in my town. Although it is quite different to what I thought I would be doing, I am just very happy and relieved to have found employment this quickly! It'll be nice to get out of the house everyday, use my brain a bit more and I'm not going to lie - the extra income and jewellery discount will be lovely.

{A gorgeous 18kt yellow gold and citrine ring from our collection that I've got my eye on}
My degree is in history and African studies and the majority of my work experience is in education, so I didn't expect to go into a sales position, but I'm really looking forward to the new challenges and learning experiences. I start on Tuesday so I'm really going to enjoy my last full weekend of complete freedom, bring on the good times!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cocktail Thursday

One of my all-time favourite drinks is a rum and mint classic that I'm sure you're all familiar with - the mojito! Since you've probably tasted the original, how about giving one of these fruity twists a try?
Strawberry Watermelon Mojito (serves 1)


 {Photo and Recipe from Brides} 
Ingredients
- 1½ oz. Smirnoff Strawberry Vodka
- ½ oz. fresh lime juice
- ½ oz. mint-infused simple syrup
- 1 cup fresh seedless watermelon, cubed and chilled
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
- Club soda

Directions
To make mint syrup, bring 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and add 8 to 10 mint leaves. Let cool for 30 minutes. Strain. Combine vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, ½ cup of watermelon and about 10 mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a glass with ice and remaining watermelon. Top with club soda. Garnish with additional mint leaf.

Cherry Mojitos (for a crowd, serves 12)


{Photo and Recipe from Martha Stewart Living}
Ingredients
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups lime juice (approximately 9 limes)
- 3 lbs dark cherries (such as Bing or Buriat, pitted)
- 2 1/4 cups best quality cherry or plain vodka (or could substitute rum to stay more traditional)
- 750mls sparkling water

Directions
Bring sugar and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool completely. (Makes about 2 cups syrup.) Syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 month.
Put lime juice into a medium nonreactive bowl. Halve 2/3 of the cherries; add all cherries to lime juice. Stir in syrup. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to overnight).
Stir cherry mixture and vodka in a large serving bowl. Fill 12 glasses with ice. Spoon 1/2 cup cherry-vodka mixture into each glass. Top with sparkling water; serve immediately.

Not a sweet tooth? Try this cool and refreshing cucumber, basil mojito...

{Photo and Recipe from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette}
Cucumber Basil Mojito (serves 1)
Ingredients
- 4 basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons brown or white sugar (the mojito in the above photo was made from brown sugar)
- 1 1/2 ounces light rum
- 1 cucumber rind, julienned
- 1/4 fresh lime
- soda water

Directions
Tear the basil leaves in half and place in bottom of tall glass. Add sugar and 1/2 ounce of the rum. Coil 12 inches' worth of cucumber julienne in bottom of glass. Mash together these ingredients. Squeeze lime and drop in glass. Add remaining rum. Top with soda water.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Party Season

The upcoming holidays always bring with them a few fun and festive soirees, as well as beautiful dresses to wear to said shindigs. Personally, I'd love to wear either of these fab party dresses this festive season

{Both dresses are from Awear}
I love jewel tones for autumn and winter and I find that they work very well for my very, very fair skin.  I love the rich purple of the first dress and I have some violet suede Steve Madden heels that would look gorgeous with it. Now I just need to find the party :)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Driving in the UK

For those of you who do not live in the UK, let me enlighten you on the cost of getting a driving licence here.
£50 - provisional licence
£31 - theory test
£62 - practical test
£143 - minimum!

Now, I say minimum because most overseas drivers need lessons to pass the UK test. Usually around 5-10 (for people who already know how to drive, they recommend 45 lessons for new drivers!) and at an average of £25/hr, that's an additional £125-250 (or up to £1,125 for 45). Also factor in that many people (even those who have driven for years and years in America) fail the practical test the first time, you can double or even triple that number. Lastly, add in the cost of the books to study for the theory test and the average cost rises to a whopping £450+/$717+

{Photo from the BBC}

Can you believe that?!

When I took my driving test in Oregon it cost $22.50 for the permit and the drivers manual was FREE! It was approximately $200 for drivers ed, $14 for the testing and $59 for the licence. I, like most Americans, passed on the first try as well so the total for obtaining my licence was about $295/£185.
Unfortunately, I passed driving an automatic and have only ever driven an automatic. In the UK, everyone drives manual cars and unlike in the states, you have to pass your practical test on a manual in order to legally drive a manual. Looks like I may need a lot of lessons!

I ordered the application forms for my provisional licence yesterday and they should arrive in 7-10 days. I better get to the bank and take out a personal loan too...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Cocktail Thursday

Calling all chocoholics out there! Check out these delish sounding martinis...{Image and recipes found on The Nest}

PepperMint Pattini


Ingredients
1-1/2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
1/2 oz Crème de menthe
1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Cream

Preparation
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a Peppermint Pattie candy wedge. Serves 1.

Almond Joy Martini

Ingredients
1-1/2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
1 oz Coconut Rum
1/2 oz Hazelnut Liqueur
1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur

Preparation
Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass into chocolate syrup and roll in shaved coconut. Place glass into the refrigerator until ready to serve the cocktail. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glass with chocolate-coconut rim. Serves 1.

Snickertini

Ingredients
1/2 oz Baileys
1-1/2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka
1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Amaretto
Splash of cream

Preparation
Drizzle a thin line of both caramel and chocolate sauce on the inside of a rocks glass and place in refrigerator to chill. Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake over ice. Pour entire contents of shaker into glass and add straw. Serves 1.


I am particularly tempted by the Snickertini! I think I might have to make a quick ingredient run this afternoon so hubby and I can have a sweet dessert tonight!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

UK resident on the job hunt!

As of Monday, I am officially a UK resident and therefore newly eligible to work! Any offers? haha
After a lovely night in Liverpool (including happy hour margaritas!) hubby and I got to our appointment bright and early and spent nearly four hours waiting and waiting and waiting some more. The whole process was very straightforward at least and aside from the exorbitant cost and ridiculously long wait times, it was easy peasy!
Now I begin the dreaded search for work! Living in a small town has advantages like being able to walk to work, but unfortunately the disadvantage of quite a low number of potential jobs. I had a telephone interview this morning - wish me luck that I get invited to the next stage of interviews!
If you have any advice for all the jobseekers out there, please feel free to share!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Wedding Photos

Hubby has had to work in the warehouse and cover some holiday time for another shop so we've been staying with his parents for a couple of days to avoid the commute. I had a lovely few days with my in-laws, going out for fish and chips and being spoiled with snacks and having meals cooked for me! I've also been busy gathering up all the documents I need for my Further Leave to Remain (FLR) visa. We're heading down to Liverpool tomorrow morning, staying the night in a cushy hotel and heading for the visa appointment bright and early Monday morning. Wish us luck!
I also thought I'd take this time to post a few of my favorite pictures from our wedding since I never did get around to fully recapping the big day.









{All photographs by our great photographer, Christopher Birkett of Birkett Photography}

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

September Wish List


My shopping eye is unfortunately always wandering and a few things have caught that eye recently, including this fab sounding illuminating powder from Too Faced. It's a light, translucent powder with flecks of gold for a soft glow inspired by candlelight. Available from Sephora.


Also on my wish list is an amazing blazer. I saw a girl in town today wearing skinny jeans, knee high brown boots and a great black blazer. New Look has a cheap and cheerful one with roll-up cuffs that has now been reduced to £20. This sequin one from Awear would be perfect for night time with a tissue thin white tank, some skinny jeans and these to die for gold studded black suede booties from Office.





I'm also in love with their gorgeous brown leather lace up heels! So academic and autumnal. They would look perfect with the navy version of these cardigans also from Awear.



As the autumn chill is in the air, also on the wish list this month are cozy throws and candles galore. Now it's your turn! What have you had your eye on lately?

Monday, 14 September 2009

MTV VMA's

We don't have MTV but I've managed to catch the highlights including
Kanye West stealing the mic during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech and declaring that Beyonce Knowles should have won...
and a very bizarre and bloody performance by Lady Gaga...
All I can say is - wow. If you need a pop culture fix, I encourage you to visit mtv.co.uk or mtv.com, where all the images are from and where you can also view the videos of Kanye's little outburst and Lady Gaga's rather OTT performance in all their glory.