Can’t get Feta ‘Thon’ a Melon Salad

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I visited a friend in France earlier this month and it was boiling!! I’m not known for my love of healthy food (although I do maintain that I’m not a fussy eater) but this salad was incredible and deserves to be my much-anticipated (Image result for eye rolling emoji) first food blog.

In Winter time, I really don’t think you can beat a cheesy feast;  whether it be crusty  baguette dipped into roasted Camembert or buttery new potatoes being dunked into the Gruyère cheese fondue – just thinking about it is making me want to fast forward to ski season…or rewind to that Birthday Fondue (suitably washed down with homemade-in-the-dishwasher Toffee Vodka).  What else?

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The Lodge Pop-Up, Clapham,  11.11.15

I don’t want to discriminate against Cheese but in the 33 degree heat of a French summer, a bubbling melting pot of fromage is not what you need.  And that’s where you say Bienvenue to Chef Becca and her Watermelon, Tuna & Feta salad, inspired by the Body Coach.

It’s fair to say I’m not exactly a whizz in the kitchen (my role in the Christmas Dinner prep is that of ‘Kitchen Porter’ – I’ve only just graduated to being trusted to open the prosecco) but this is easy even for an amateur like me.

Becca had found it in her Lean In 15 book  by the Body Coach, Joe Wicks.  He’s popping up all over the place at the moment and you can even find his recipe books on ASOS here.

Lean In 15 The Shape Plan Book £16.99, ASOS
Lean In 15 The Shape Plan Book £16.99, ASOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for 4 People (all available from Waitrose):

Tuna Steak (steak de thon) £6.99 for 2 steaks, you’ll need 2 packs for 4 people

Watermelon  (pastèque) £3.49 (1 will do the job)

Feta Cheese (feta) £2.29 (1 will do the job, unless you love cheese, in which case get 2 more)

Baby Spinach  £1.39 (2 packets for 4 people)

Basil (basilic) £2.00 

Walnuts (noix – apparently this is the Frenchie’s ‘national nut’) £2.35 per bag

Tip: If you buy your tuna steaks on a Friday, you’ll get 20% off as part of Waitrose’s ‘Fish Friday’s’.  You can also take advantage of their ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ which as the name suggests means you pick your own…offers.  You simply select 10 of your favourite products and you’ll get 20% off all of them when you shop using your Waitrose card.  More information can be found here.

Method:

Tuna Steak: depending on thickness, cook for 2 minutes on each side for optimum ‘seared-ness’

Watermelon: chop into chunks or if we want to sound more authoritative ‘cube’

Feta: same as the watermelon

Basil/Spinach: Tear into big bowl and mix

Drizzle over some olive oil to finish & sprinkle on the nuts and you’re done

To Finish It Off:

It goes really well with a Rosé Wine – I’d recommend a couple of French ones, in keeping with this post that are currently on offer, 20% off, from Waitrose.  This meal isn’t exactly a stomach liner, so if you’re wanting to get casually drunk – it’s perfect. Depending on your three other dinner guests, 1 bottle per guest should do the trick.

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Mirabeau Pure Provence Rosé Was £12.99, now £10.39

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Bijou Cabrieres Cuvee Sophie Valrose £8.49 (and buyer’s choice)

Result:

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A refreshing and surprisingly filling salad that hits the spot on a Summer’s Day.  The combination of melon, feta and tuna is ridiculously (and weirdly) good and the basil and spinach helps to mop up the juices.  Not only that, but tuna is known for its heart health benefits: totally off-setting your bottle or two of Rosé.  I’m Image result for heart emoji‘n it even more.

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Head of MercHENdise

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So, we’re back from #MrsPToBe’s Ibiza hen do now and my face is actually stuck like the ‘bawling my eyes out and hungover to f**k’ emoji. Please just STOP fancying me and try and focus on the rest of the post…

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In early May, I was appointed Head of Merchandise and Organised Fun by one of the bridesmaids. I’m not saying I let this great responsibility go to my head but I’m nothing if not dedicated.  My first (self-directed) job was to proactively adapt my new job title to ensure it was sufficiently pun-ny.  I’m so pun-ny and self-absorbed that I ended up giving myself two titles:

  • Head of MercHENdise and GAME-ing
  • Director of Parrott-phernalia* (the Hen’s new surname will be Parrott)

*You can just call me Soph if you prefer.

The role was only a short secondment and so now I’ve completed my Balearic-based duties, I feel it’s only right that I share my experience to benefit any future purveyors of plastic penises.  Here are my top tips:

1. Get Personal!

No hen wants a completely ‘generic’ or ‘tried and tested’ hen, no matter what they try and protest.  From your hen do hashtag to the bride-to-be’s (b2b’s) sash, tailor accordingly.  Our hen was super helpful in marrying a Mr. Parrott but names might not work for everyone.   Get all your private jokes into the mix and make it special and unique for that bride.  Definitely take along a mask of the groom, especially if you’re going to be rocking a bikini….#mindboggles  The hen do comedown is pretty atrocious too, if you’ve done an all-nighter in Pacha (almost me) or fallen off a pavement and sprained your ankle (definitely me), you’ll be ever so grateful for your personalised hen do hangover care kit. NotonTheHighStreet.com have some options but it’s probs just as easy to create these yourselves and put in some of your  favourite things.

MrsPtobe

 2. Boring Logistics

Set your budget and consider your location.  As we were going to Ibiza, we couldn’t really ask anyone to cough up for a parrot poncho, novelty sunglasses and flashing cock earrings on top of flights & accommodation.  That said; don’t underestimate how far such props will go. It’s amazing how an adult version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey (unnecessarily renamed as Pin the Willy on Billy) can cheer up some twenty-something’s stuck in an airport overnight.   Outside of the games, 17 of us stayed in a villa and I would say that the most boring items paid for themselves a few times over – the beer pong cups for example travelled light and saved us washing up (or breaking) any glasses on the hol itself.

 3. Get Interactive!

Hen Do’s can be made up of pals from all different parts of your hen’s life so all games should aim to get everyone involved and whether you be a sibling, school pal, work wife or Uni beb – everyone has equal rights to a willy straw. I highly recommend doing a video Mr.  & Mrs.  I met up with the Groom one work lunchtime to question him over pizza (and a large beer) on their sex life.  I filmed the footage, kept the outtakes, sourced a HDMI cable and took it to Ibiza where we could hook up the game to the villa’s TV. The first round asked the groom him or her questions – e.g. ‘Who is the most intelligent?’(You have to start tame). To get everyone involved, everyone had to pick a side of the room – Bride or Groom – according to what they thought the groom would have said.  If you didn’t match what the groom had said, you drunk.  Round 2 was more traditional and just involved getting the b2b battered.  Job done.  If you want to be really high-tech, get him on Facetime and do the live version so he can have a few bevs too (If anyone’s interested, the groom thought he was more intelligent and the bride agreed).

 4. Sharing is Caring…

If you’re one of these people who subscribes to the ‘get off Social Media and enjoy your holiday’ philosophy, then bore off – I’m not going to RISE to your criticisms anymore.  I promise I will enjoy my holiday more if I spam your Instagram feed with fittingly filtered photos of me and my friends floating around the pool on a giant inflatable unicorn.  Obvs, I’ll do a few Boomerangs of the entire party bombing into the pool too…and what?! It’s the best holiday of my life and I want the girl that I went to playgroup with, who emigrated to Australia in 1999, to know about it.  Get your collaborative album ready to go and when you’re still suffering from your post-hen blues, pass the time ‘lol’ing’ through it. It goes without saying that your hashtag needs to be communicated in advance of the holiday – make sure you’re 100% happy with this and that nobody else is appearing on your ‘keywords’.  I wouldn’t change anything about #MrsPToBe but there were a few imposters knocking about on Instagram and I kicked myself for only coming up with #MrsPToBeefa two days into the holiday.  Bad day at the office.

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“I got so many clothes, I keep some in my Aunt’s house”

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The title of this post is perhaps slightly misleading.  I don’t have that many clothes but some of the items that I  do ‘got’, would perhaps be better off in my (Great) Aunt’s house.  Lucky for me, I have some very honest ‘friends’ who over the last few years have clubbed together to get me the following birthday presents:

  1. Blow Dry LESSON at Aveda Institute, High Holborn
  2. Make-Up Application LESSON at Bobbi Brown, Covent Garden
  3. Personal Shopping Experience/LESSON @ Topshop, Oxford Circus (x5)

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Despite my friends having hushed, condescending conversations with the hairdresser about my inability to wash the shampoo out, I enjoyed the blow dry.  My locks looked in top condition that day but it’s all gone Pete TONG  (lol) since then.  As for the make-up application, the closest I get to recreating the ‘smoky eye look’ is the morning after I’ve fallen off the Marlboro Light wagon and haven’t taken my mascara off before going to bed.  I try not to wear too much make-up anyway as I’m still scarred from that time in 2013 when a (disturbingly fit) colleague introduced himself to me at an industry awards do- we’d worked together for over a year, he just didn’t recognise me in my full face of slap. Awks.  Being honest, I didn’t really recognise myself either…in a good way.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted.  The gift that has kept on giving has been my introduction to Kat who works as a Personal Shopper in Oxford Street’s Topshop.  I was first introduced to Kat through one of the ‘hints’ my friends dropped me (disguised in the usual birthday pressie format) on my 25th Birthday.  I’ve not looked back.  The Personal Shopping service takes away the stresses and sweating of your regular shopping trips. You simply book in (plan in advance, as it books up quickly) and send over a ‘brief’ of what you’re after and Kat will have a dangerously good rail ready and waiting, all in your size.  She’s also honest – if it doesn’t suit you, nobody at Topshop will be there telling you otherwise to get you to part with your cash. There’s no pressure to buy which results in you just wanting to buy everything even more!!

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Harvs & Hazzle checking out our racks 😉

As an Ibiza virgin and a self-certified Fashion Victim, there was no way I could contemplate my holiday wardrobe alone.  I mentioned earlier that our #BeefaThreads were selected by committee and this was facilitated amazingly well by Kat and the Topshop Personal Shopping team at Oxford Street. We booked the b2b and a few more of the hens in for an evening after work.  Not only did we have some amazing picks – totally geared towards our different Ibiza plans (Tinie Tempah @ Ushuaia, Basement Jaxx/Bob Sinclair @ Pacha and Blue Marlin Sunday Lunch) – we were also treated to prosecco and sushi in what was essentially our own ‘wing’ of Topshop.  Two sizeable changing areas plus a ‘living area’ made for the perfect holiday shop setting.  Obviously, I was confronted by my dreaded b-i-k-i-n-i shop and felt fat|flabby|pale all at once.  Instead of letting me drown my sorrows in the prosecco and continue to gobble up the gyoza, Kat took me for a walk around the store and picked out some additional bits to try.  The ‘less is more’cossie is something I never thought I’d wear (particularly when my sister said it reminded her of the ‘Punky Fish’ brand – popular with pre-teen Emo’s about 10 years ago) but in the end, it was one of my fave outfits – if you can’t get away with that little fabric in Ibiza, when can you? Here’s some of the bits that we ended up putting in our suitcases:

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Slash Detailed Swimsuit, £34 and Denim Shorts, £28 @ Topshop
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White Top, Metallic Pleat Trousers (£32) and Black WEEKEND Espadrille Wedges (£49) – All Topshop
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Petite Structured Bardot Top in Orange, £32
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Dresses now out of stock but B2B wears PETITE Cutwork Lace Skirt,£38

Disclaimer: the black floral print dress doesn’t fare well if you fall off the giant unicorn and into the pool…probs wear a strapless bra underneath it too unless you want to give your fellow dancers more than they bargained for…

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Where’s my f***king clap, where’s my encore? xx

 

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Agadoo-Do-Do, Push Pineapple…

…Shake The Tree pineappleemojipineappleemoji

It’s no accident that the pineapple was part of the original ’emoji’ line-up…it just needed to wait for its moment.  And I think its fair to say that pineapples are now having their moment. The ‘coalesced’ (cheers for that new adjective Wikipedia) berries are making tropical trendy and they started my not-so-closeted fruit fetish a few months ago.

Fate brought me and this small decorative golden pineapple together last September.  I spotted it in the John Lewis AW16 range last year and kept going back to the site, and the shop for that matter, to admire it.  I’ve been re-targeted (chased around the internet with pictures of it) so many times, I actually have come to think of it as a permanent desk decoration.  Here ‘he’ is in all his golden glory:

 

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John Lewis Decorative Gold Pineapple, £30

Since then, I’ve had to deter myself from buying the Pineapple Inflatable for our Ibiza trip (we’ve already got too many some tropical inflatables and I can’t add more hold luggage  or my bank account will be even less buoyant than it is now). This very lilo was on last night’s episode of Love Island too…I think it’s a sign – there’s still time with next day Click & Collect…decisions.

Sunnylife Inflatable Pineapple, £45

My phone obviously got the message as well and is now safely encased in a deliciously sweet…you guessed it…Pineapple Case by Skinny Dip.  The pineapples even come with googly eyes…what more could you ask for – an eye-phone 6+? #dadjoke.   If you’re more salad dish than fruit bowl, the avocado one is pretty amazing as well!  I’ve seen that Kylie Jenner has this one in her recent Instagram’s but don’t let that put you off.  Topshop have them handily next to the tills on -1  @ Oxford Street but they’re sold out online – Urban Outfitters can still give you some of your 5 a day though:

Skinnydip Googly Eye Pineapple iPhone 6 Case, £15

My passion for the pine didn’t stop there and I’ve now added a Scratch & Sniff (gross) pineapple necklace to my quite limited jewellery collection.  I’m especially smug about this as they’ve since sold out on Topshop and it’s become something of an accessory staple – I’m still going to wear it poolside with my pineapple bikini (sourced a couple of years ago from Debenhams on one of those dreaded shopping trips).  I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t actually the necklace that was pineapple-scented but at least the perfumed cardboard it came on made my handbag smell nice for the day…

Freedom by TOPSHOP Pineapple Rhinestone Necklace
Freedom by TOPSHOP  Scratch & Sniff Pineapple Rhinestone Necklace, £8.50

There are still some fruity necklace options available in Topshop but the strawberry offering  feels a bit sad compared to my ‘rhinestone’ pineapple.  Whilst the tastily scented watermelon necklace left me wanting, my sister is actually a big fan (here she is dressed up as one – case.in.point).  Her’s will be wigging its way to Australia in time for her birthday – sorry Scrag for spoiling the surprise.

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What’s this Watermelon imposter?                     Not For Sale. #Priceless 😉

If for you, like me,  perfection is in the pineapple, Topshop can helpfully send you an e-mail when it comes back into stock. If you’d prefer to splurge,  Alex Monroe sells a very similar gold-plated piece on John Lewis for £120.00 – it doesn’t come with the scented cardboard though…

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Alex Monroe Mini Pineapple Pendant Necklace in Gold, £120

If, unlike me, you actually have some financial control and wouldn’t consider impulsive purchase – then, firstly, Well Done – keep it  up! Secondly, save your pennies in this Sass & Belle Pineapple Money Box

Sass & Belle Pineapple Money Box @ ASOS, £15
Sass & Belle Pineapple Money Box @ ASOS, £15

I’m hoping I have enough loose change saved by Christmas to buy the usual array of non-essential novelty gifts.  At least the standard Christmas gift of socks can also be given the pineapple treatment – I’ve got a very healthy interest in this fruity pair from ASOS.

ASOS Sheer Pineapple Ankle Socks, £4
ASOS Sheer Pineapple Ankle Socks, £4

That said, I’ll probs have finished pursuing the pineapple by then and have started chasing the Clementines –  they’re more festive.

GorangemeojiorangemeojiDBYE FOR NOW! xx

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The B-I-K-I-N-I Shop

The Bikini Shop (this should be followed by a crash of lightning)

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Just the thought of it…

 

 

 

 

 

It should be the happiest of times.  The time when it’s acceptable to have an alcoholic beverage other than a Bloody Mary or a Bellini for breakfast is drawing nearer. Putting your OOO on with an especially emphatic and smug click of the mouse can only mean one thing.   It’s holiday time.

I’m going to Ibiza in a few days time for one of my best friend’s Hen Do’s…A LOT more on that later.  This has been on the cards since she got engaged in 2014 – flights have been booked, the villa has been paid for, our club nights have been chosen and most of the holiday wardrobe has been selected (by committee).  This time of excitement however is in danger of giving in to a feeling of heightened trepidation, fear and self-loathing.  In my own experience this kind of disgust in oneself can only be brought about by that most hideous of tasks – the  B-I-K-I-N-I shop.

I have quite big boobs.  I’d thought how I could write that without sounding full of myself but the fact remains…it’s a fact. Back in my high-heeled sandal and secret platform days, I wished for a pair of boobs.  I looked on my M&S floral crop-tops with disdain and traded them in for bras before I had anything to merit putting in them.  My 28A Gel Bra changed my fourteen year old life – those were the days. Be careful what you wish for is the moral of this story.  My boobs arrived out of nowhere, just in time for my first ‘big girl exams’ and are now so far down the alphabet, there’s barely a GCSE qualification to award them.

I think you’ve got the gist but just in case, allow me to accentuate (a word you often hear in this search). I believe that the most dreadful of shopping experiences – the b-i-k-i-n-i shop- is really the most dreadful for those ladies who are more developed in the chest area. I’m fairly in agreement with the wife-pleasing adage ‘More than a handful’s a waste’ but if someone dares mention that during bikini shop season – I’d have to hold myself back from nipple-twisting them.   I’ve tried various tactics over the years.  None of these guarantee success but I’m hoping some can empathise with the desperate measures one has to go to:

  1. Buy the Size 18 top (when you’re usually a size 10) and then quickly swap the hanger on the bigger bottoms for your ‘actual’ size. Do this as if you’re committing the crime of the century too.  No – don’t do it, it doesn’t work – one (or is it two?) word.  Sideboob.
  2. Buy a maternity swimming costume. Seriously. It hides your tummy as well as providing more ‘support’ to your two, frankly unwanted, holiday guests. My favourite cossie from last year is a size 14 maternity costume from NEXT – you don’t have to be up the duff to wear it and it actually looked relatively trendy with a pair of high-waisted denim shorts.
  3. Only go on holiday where topless sunbathing is welcome. Buy yourself some ‘fun’ bikini bottoms in all the nice patterns & colours you wish you could find a matching top in.  Note of caution here – your boobs don’t tend to get out much so make sure you apply the SPF 50.  “Fried egg tits” is a label that should really be exclusive to our flatter-chested friends.  We’ve got enough to contend with.
  4. Spray Tan before you go. If it’s going to hang out – better tanned than transparent. Don’t be ashamed if you have to ask the lady doing your spray tan if she minds doing under your boobs (and bum for that matter).   If you’re a curvier girl beyond your mid-twenties, there’s no shame in subscribing to the ‘if you can’t tone, tan’ mantra.

In general, I’ll tell you what looks nice, even sexy, on your average sized pair of boobs is guaranteed to look similar to your Nana’s soft-furnishings on anyone bigger than a D cup.  Kelly Brook did a nice range for New Look a few years back but other than that, I struggle to find bikinis that fit well, look good and do not cost the price of your holiday flights & two-weeks accommodation.  Everyone is quite good at making underwear – why can’t the same happen for swimwear?  Retailers – hear my plea, please make some affordable bikinis in bra-sizes.  I’ll buy them.

Ahead of my next holiday though, I’ve approached the b-i-k-i-n-i shop with a ‘less is more’ attitude.  This is very much true of the costume I bought from Topshop – I’d need to have a fair few Dark & Stormy’s before uploading that to Instagram.   Seeing it on the hanger, it didn’t look like it was going to work.  And maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe I’ll look like a grill when I finish my first hour of sunbathing with those cut-outs. Maybe it’s too slutty.  But it’s happening.  And if it doesn’t work, I’m going with friends, so it’ll be back to my favourite polka-dot bottoms.  That itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny bikini might not be the one for me and the bikini shop (there I said it) might never be the dream but it felt good to get that all off my chest.

 

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I’m just Totally Shoeless.

It used to be so easy.  The choices were simple.  Now, I’m totally and utterly shoeless.

Where is the bare foot emoji?!
Where is the bare foot emoji?!

The Nineties: You’d go to Clarks and have your school shoes fitted and this would see you through at least the Autumn and Spring Terms. Then the sandals would come out for Summer…obvs with the frilly socks with the trim that matched your green/yellow/red/blue/pink dress #ginghamgalore. As you progressed from Junior School to Secondary School – that  heel on the sandal would inevitably appear and proceed to get, in the words of Jackie Wilson, higher and higher (try and get that song out of your head now).

You’d also probably get some trainers for P.E. and if you were lucky, you might get the flashy light-up trainers for your weekends at SuperBowl and Cineworld.  I even had a pair of Dr Martens before I went to Secondary School.   Clearly, I peaked early.  That said, I never really did get off on the right foot with shoes: our relationship has been tarnished since I fell off my friend’s secretly borrowed platforms in a car park on the way to an 11th Birthday Disco Celebration.  Strutting your stuff to Whigfield’s Saturday Night and the Macarena is difficult with a broken wrist , particularly when you’re a stickler for following the routine (a severe lack of rhythm means you must).
The Noughties:  At the age of 16, that aforementioned high(er and higher) heel on the sandal made unwanted contact with bits of me that I never expected, nor I should clarify, wanted, a sandal to make contact with, after I fell down the stone steps of the Sixth Form Common Room.  I didn’t ”meet my first boyfriend” until I was 17 and I was never really one for horse-riding (the boots were far too difficult to take off) but that sandal paved the way. I will never confidently wear a pair of sandals again, in much the same way as I will never take a bag of frozen garden peas out of the freezer without painful memories coming flooding back.   Onto University and I opted for flat and comfortable – lucky for me that Ugg’s were the order of the day.  Canterbury tracksuit bottoms or pyjamas tucked into your Ugg’s were everywhere.  I started tame and had my black Ugg’s before I went a bit wild and opted for ‘Tomato Orange’ (otherwise known as Hot Pink) in my final year.  Both pairs succumbed to the persistent bullying of my big left toe and were left (or the left boots were left anyway) with holes.  I had to part ways with them eventually – the hole in the toe not coping well with the NE Climate but the hole in my Ugg-less heart took longer to heel (*heal, I can spell – I just couldn’t help myself).

NOW:  Shoe Shopping is. a. nightmare. What goes with what? I’m positive one foot is bigger than the other but I’m 28 years old and my Mum doesn’t want to (/shouldn’t really have to) accompany me to the start-rite machine that stops at Size 13 (confusingly smaller than any adult sizes!) I turn to my friends in despair.

Trainers, they’re cool now apparently.  What are the high tops?  (don’t get me started on the correct pronunciation of  Nike). Am I cool enough to wear those?  I don’t think they’d match what’s in my wardrobe though…would they? Do things need to match?

Converse? “Everyone has a pair of converse”.   My friend at work comes in with some New Balance and everyone is a fan of these – can I just copy my colleague? No, it’s too tragic – I don’t know if she’ll appreciate my wearing her shoes to the office every day but she’d be too nice and polite to say anything.

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A friend finally recommends that I get some Stan Smith’s…I resolve to check these out. I did like that album the other year and the Bond cover song for Spectre isn’t all that bad.  Now, it’s just a case of where to buy them…my friend tells me Office have a 20% code at the moment. Maybe I’ll go there? #MoneyOnMyMind

Office have also very helpfully offered some styling tips on how to where what I’m led to believe is very much a ‘shoe of the moment’….you’ll see me in my pink culottes and Core White Green Stan Smith’s supporting Murray in his next Wimbledon bid soon.

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Hello!

Hello!

I’m Sophie, I’m 28 and as you are likely to discover, I struggle with what to wear.  I also have issues in getting myself to the gym, washing the conditioner out of my hair and saving for holidays…or saving for anything full stop.  I typically buy one pair of shoes and wear them constantly until they’re ruined.  I’m hoping that this blog and anyone who reads it can help me on my way to becoming a stylish, healthy, calm and responsible lady…

Thanks for popping in!

Soph xx

*maybe not that responsible!

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