Monday, 22 May 2017

Trumpet Dress by Top Vintage Review!


When the lovely Charlotte of Top Vintage reached out to me and asked if I would like to do a review of the Trumpet Dress in red, I gave her a very happy "yes!".

This dress screams day-to-night for me, and for that reason I wanted to include it as part of my Retro Workwear series. The high neckline and thicker fabric make it workwear appropriate, while the feminine shape and flirty hem make it perfect for a date night.

I am always honest in my reviews, so I will be honest here too - this dress is definitely a little too big on me. The website states that for an extra small, the bust would fit anywhere from 34-37 inches, the waist 27-29 inches and the hips 38-40 inches. For an extra small, those measurements are really very generous. I would say the bust and waist measurements are accurate, and the hips actually run small as - at 35 inches - the dress fit my hips just fine. Never mind if you have a booty, though! The fabric is beautifully stretchy and accommodating, and can fit well into the 40 inches listed in the size chart for the dress. With the bust and waist running big, I would suggest sizing down. I would probably need an XXS for this to fit me properly, which is not actually a size this dress comes in!

What I love about the dress is the mermaid skirt. The way the skirt flares out at the knees is ultra-feminine and very flattering. The high neck and matching belt also help to give the dress a timeless, classy silhouette.

There is a pearl button closure at the neck, and a side zipper that only adds to the ease of wear due to the stretch of the fabric. The panels help to tuck you in nicely, and the fabric really is flattering.

I'm very honoured to have been chosen to review this dress so that I can show how it fits on a smaller frame. The model on the website is lusciously curvy, so the fit on anyone with a smaller frame will be more similar to me - a little drapier. Either way, I think the dress is beautiful. It retails for € 149.95and is a Top Vintage exclusive!


Speaking of workwear - I recently announced on instagram that I have secured a full time position as a recruiter! When I returned from the US last month, my husband and I sat down and had a chat about whether now was the time for me to look for a full time role. I put my career on hold, for the most part, so that I could be with the girls as much as possible. Aurora is very independant and happy with my in-laws (who she mostly stays with while I work), and Selene is 3 now and very much fine without me for most of the day. With almost a year of my psychology degree under my belt, I decided to put that knowledge to use in the recruitment industry.

For those that have asked - yes, I am still studying and will definitely continue to do so! I find my major absolutely fascinating, and actually enjoy sitting down at night to learn more about it.

I am actually very excited, even though I will be sad to have less time with my angels. Giving myself "me" time is not something I am very good at, nor is acknowledging my own accomplishments a strong suit of mine. I feel that having hour long lunch breaks to myself, in which I can get a quick massage or, you know, eat food before it goes cold, will actually be good for me. I am also very driven and like to stay busy, so being in a role where those things are rewarded will be wonderful!

I am planning on doing a few posts on self-care. I have experienced burn out more than once this year, and counteracting my busy lifestyle with time for myself is really important. I would love to share ideas on how to do this with my little following :)

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Pirates and Pigtails - Customisation in Peonies in Purple

I've been buying the classic "sweetheart style" dress from Pigtails and Pirates for years. However, I needed something a little different this time around. I've been a breastfeeding mama through most of the times I've worn their sweetheart dresses, so the depth of the bustline was perfect for me. Now, being a cup size smaller than before, I needed something a little lower in the neckline.


I wrote to them and asked if it would be possible to lower the bust by a couple of inches, and of course the answer was yes. I've found that this small variation is more comfortable for me, and works better for me all the way around. I have very little cleavage to show lately, but having the dress that little bit lower means I can still achieve what I want with it!

I ordered the Peonies in Purple fabric, and am in love with it. It was ordered for Easter, and I'm a little sad we won't get to wear it until spring comes around now! Being in the middle of autumn/winter weather means it's not really seasonally appropriate at the moment, but I can't wait until it is again.

As usual, I requested little skirts for my girls, and Pigtails and Pirates was happy to oblige.  In order to get your own custom-sized skirts from Pigtails and Pirates, simply send the waist and length measurements through in your preferred fabric.

Besides allowing changes to their designs, Pigtails and Pirates has also recently released all new dress designs, such as this pleated bust dress. Being made to order, you can generally have any dress type made in any of the fabrics seen on their website, unless otherwise stated.Most of their dresses run from $199.99 - $259.99 AUD, with the rarity of the fabrics used sometimes affecting prices. The customer service is always warm and prompt, and every dress is made with tons of love.




 On a personal note, Uni is flying by this term. I'm more grateful than ever that I am completing my degree completely online. Those that follow me on Snapchat know that study is almost a daily habit, and that this term has thrown a lot of curveballs my way. Either way, it's something that I enjoy immensely, and I can't think of anything else I would rather be studying.

Aurora now runs, rather than walks, and is exactly as cheeky as many of my family members predicted she would be. Selene is also rather cheeky lately, though whether it's due to her age or a protest to how busy I've been, I'm not sure!

I've got a personal project I've been working on too, and it's like a job in and of itself. Once that's completed, I am hoping life will return to some sense of normalcy since my overseas trip last month (something I briefly mentioned on instagram)!

Last, but definitely not least, I wanted to speak a little bit about something that's often difficult to talk about - mourning. Some know and some don't, but the reason for my family emergency trip last month was that my Aunt and her three beautiful children perished in a house fire. I've been splitting my time between checking on the family members most affected by the loss, and doing some mourning myself. My grandmother died several years ago, so all the feelings of mourning on my own, in a separate country, are all too familiar.

When you lose someone you love, but you don't live in the same country (or state), the mourning process is vastly different. It can be very lonely. There aren't any catch ups with family members so you can exchange stories and cry together. And, often times, it's difficult for those around you to remember to ask how you are, because no one around you knew who you lost. Personally, I've spent a lot of time reflecting when I'm alone in the car, and crying in little spurts that way.

Even without the element of being far away from loved ones when tragedies strike, mourning in and of itself is awful. You aren't yourself - how can you be? It can make you feel like a child. Or angry. Or frightened. Or too exchausted to move. The memories of those you lost can come on suddenly, triggered by anything, and suck the breath from your lungs. (For me, that trigger is this very post, as purple was the colour so strongly associated with my Aunt during the memorial for her and her children).

One thing I keep discussing with family members, and friends who have been through loss, is how very personal that journey is. No one else will hold all the same memories you are clinging to. No one else will have the same relationship with that person as you did. No one else will feel the same things at the same time. That's all ok. It's ok to take longer than others to process things. It's ok to be too busy to think about how much you're hurting until months later. It's ok to cry more than you see other people crying over that person - or less. Personally, I find crying exhausting, and do it as little as humanly possible for that reason. And that's fine!

With Mother's Day coming up quickly, I am reminded of how many will be mourning the loss of mothers, or other women in their lives (or the loss of anyone, ever!). So, if that's you, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry it will hurt, and I'm sorry this holiday may bring you any level of pain. But, please, remember that mourning is yours - your own personal journey, and that every single emotion that you feel is what makes you so beautifully human!

Thanks for reading.

xo, Miss Betty Doll




Saturday, 6 May 2017

Aurora's Fairy Princess First Birthday






This entire year has been full of crazy busy insanity. Our family, and myself in particular, has been going through so many transitions and schedule changes that I realised this week I have yet to share the details of Aurora's first birthday party!

Aurora turned 1 in March this year. I had work the day beforehand, and a University exam that very night, so preparations were exhausting. We had a unicorn pony (I kid you not) at Selene's first birthday two years beforehand, so we wanted to ensure Aurora had something beautiful and special to look back at as well! So, no matter how tired we were, we made sure to pull everything together.

Party planning with kiddos is a whole new experience. Time management and learning when to let things go is very important. There are always several details that I decide I simply cannot fit in. This year, it was this adorable mushroom project from Design Dazzle. I saved newspapers for weeks beforehand and had all of the materials ready, but the week of her birthday I knew I would burn myself out if I went ahead with them, so I didn't!

Instead, I chose to focus on the easier details. Rose petals ice cubes in the water for guests, homemade butterfly sugar cookies for party favours, and my usual spread of themed desserts for the dessert buffet is what helped make her party special.

I spent about $15 on tissue paper to make my own homemade tissue paper flowers, and these served as the backdrop for the dessert buffet. Homemade cake pops, extra cookies and some lollies all centred around the beautiful cake from B-licious Cakes. I make my own (ameteur) cakes most of the time, but for big birthdays, I love hiring B-licious Cakes. She is absolutely my go-to cake lady. Her precision is next to none, and her cakes taste outstanding! Honestly, if I weren't working on my own career, I would be begging her for an apprenticeship so that I could learn all I can from her.



Unfortunately,  I wasn't able to get very clear photos of these - but party printables are my go-to for kid's parties now! I printed water bottle labels and all sorts of things. I used these fairy invites from TweetPartyPrintables, and they worked really well! My husband incorporated a photo of Aurora into the template, and I think it worked a treat :)


For food, I made a few salads (ramen salad, pasta salad etc) for sides, and had lots of meats for the main. I marinated my own pork ribs, but purchased all of the chicken pre-marinated. Again, it's about knowing when to let go - it can be hard to do every little thing homemade for parties.



We hired a "fairy" from Dreamscape. We've used them before, for Selene's 2nd birthday, and they always deliver :) They are the least expensive entertainment company I have found for kid's parties, and they have the sweetest staff members. This one stayed back by about 20 minutes, because I was being pulled aside by different party guests and hadn't had time to get a picture with her and Aurora!



With every event we are fortunate enough to host, I am reminded of just how beautiful the people in our lives are. Becoming a mother has brought some astounding women into my life, with equally amazing partners. We never know what life will bring, but I am sure many of their children will still be friends with Aurora and Selene for years to come - and for that, I am grateful!


Aurora's dress was from HandyMandyGirl on Etsy. She made and shipped the dress within a week, and the quality was amazing. You have to be careful with tutu dresses from Etsy if you are after a keepsake dress, because many of them are simply a stretch crochet bodice with strips of tutu tied in. This Lea Dress was similar, but the tulle was very high quality and sewn into a thick lace bodice. There were criss-cross satin straps around the back, which is handy if you are purchasing ahead of time and aren't sure what size your bubba's torso will be!

My dress was the well-known Garden State Dress from Unique Vintage. If there is any dress that could be deemed perfect for a fairy party, it's this one.


I use pinterest to organise all of my party ideas (and everything, really!), so if you'd like further Fairy Princess Party inspiration, the link to the board is here. 

Lastly, I just wanted to speak about Aurora. She has been the most beautiful ball of sunshine to ever grace my life. She is clever and learns quickly, constantly observing her sister so that she can do what she wants to as fast as possible! She is a tiny spitfire, with so much passion. I don't dream of any specific careers for my girls - that decision is theirs to make. I do see, however, that Aurora has so many qualities of a leader, and I can't wait to watch her grow into a young woman. In the mean time, I'll keep singing her all of her beloved lullabies and soaking in how tiny and vulnerable and beautiful she is. It is my honour to cuddle her to sleep and hold her when she is awake. No matter how tiring life can be, she fills our family with energy anew. Happy belated birthday, my tiny pixie. I love you forever and always.













Friday, 28 April 2017

Collectif Jade Dress and Accessories

The beautiful Miss Amy May was the first one I saw the Jade Dress by Collectif on, and she styled it so adorably that I knew I needed one in my life. Having already planned to order their Agnes Suit Jacket to add to my retro workwear collection, I added the Jade Dress to my shopping cart and patiently waited.

I have several blue dresses and skirts in my wardrobe, but this shade of sky blue is definitely a stand out compared to some of the other items in my closet. The tiny bows on the thin, double shoulder straps are a unique addition to an otherwise classic staple dress. The pockets are to die for, with any amount of items able to fit inside securely.

The fabric is weighty and sturdy, and something I honestly feel I can wear comfortably in summer or layer up for winter. The belt is thicker than those that I would normally wear, but the solid colour of the dress and the subtle details mean that the belt makes a bolder impact than a thinner belt would. It also works particularly well for me to suck everything in, as the size I ordered is too big.

Which brings me to sizing! I ordered a size 8, but feel I definitely should have done a size 6. My sizing advice can be a little confusing at the moment, as I only lost weight over the last few blog posts. I try to keep it as consistent as possible, and provide updated measurements and weight advice. So, currently I am 53 kgs (116 pounds) at 5'6" tall. My measurements are: bust 34.5, waist 23.5, hips 34.5. It makes sense that the size 8 is too big on me, as the size chart advises it is best suited to bust 34-35, waist 26, hips 34-36. I would therefore say that the sizing of the Jade Dress is true to size, and I just ordered too big!



I promised I would start accessorizing better this year, and the addition of several of these beaded necklaces from Collectif is helping me do just that! They are nice and weighty while still sitting comfortably around the neck, and are big enough to be considered statement jewelry while still being office appropriate.They come in several colours, and I wear the black one often to work!


The Jade Dress comes in blue, seashell, seashell border, watermelon, and black, and is available at £70.50. One of my favourite things about Collectif at the moment is their wide variety of styles (from officewear to 60's coats), so I am confident there is enough on the site to make shipping worthwhile!



On a personal note, I wanted to speak a little more about weight. I have been fortunate enough to gather nearly 10k of followers on instagram, and many of them are new mothers with new bodies to adjust to, or young women. I have been receiving a lot of messages and a few comments about my current weight, how I stay slim etc, so I wanted to touch on that a bit.

After I had Aurora, I weighed much more than I do now for almost a year. I couldn't get the weight to come off, no matter what I did. Then, I caught gastro not once, but twice! I have also completed some very difficult units at University, started working again and lost my Aunt and her three children in a housefire. The combination of all of these things has led to some weight loss. I do exercise and eat my fruits and veggies, but I don't want any young women thinking that my weight is something to strive towards! I am actually working to gain some of it back, in a healthy way.

Every single body is beautiful. I had a bigger bum before and I loved it. Now, I have slim legs and I like the way those look, too. I have been several weights over the past three years because I have birthed two human beings, and I know that this is not the weight I will be forever. So, please, always message me for advice and know that I LOVE giving it, but never, ever try to lose weight just because you see someone else at a slimmer weight. Get healthy. Go for a run. Eat your carrots. But don't spend a single second thinking your body isn't good enough. There were a million eggs in your mother's womb, and YOU were the one to come into existence out of all of them! This means that you are important, and you are perfect just as you are, at whatever weight you are. <3

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Baking With Littles: Peeps Sunflower Brownies

After making an emergency, week-long trip home to the US this week, this post is a little behind schedule! It was intended for Easter, but given that sunflowers work most any time, I give you : the Peeps Sunflower Brownie.

I saw this all over pinterest a few months ago and knew it was worth a try. Though Peeps have a very love-it-or-hate-it reputation, their decorative purposes know no bounds!

This recipe is perfect for little ones, and they can help with both the making and decoration of the brownies! To keep it simple, I suggest using a boxed brownie mix.




 (Baker privileges) 


 
Instructions:

Mix brownie mix according to the package instructions. Bake in a 6 inch round tin, again according to the instructions on the packet!

While the brownies are baking, make a dark chocolate ganache by boiling 1 cup of whipping cream. Once boiled, pour in 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt, then stir.

Cover the brownie with the ganache on the top only. Then, arrange yellow chick peeps around the edges of the brownie to represent sunflower petals. Place mini chocolate chips or Maltesers in the middle of the "flower", and you're done!

 

Excluding baking time, the whole thing takes 10-15 minutes to pull together. It's fun, pretty, and according to Peeps-lovers, delicious!

I hope you and your family have a beautiful Easter surrounded by those that mean most.

Thanks for reading!

Kind Regards,
Bethany Nrekic

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Retro Workwear: Karlie Dress by Stop Staring

I've been hinting for months now that I will bring back my Retro Workwear series. I started one two years ago, but it slowly died out after falling too pregnant to be very creative with my workwear. Now that I am back in the office, I am excited to finally continue this series!

When I think of retro workwear, the first place that pops into mind for dresses is Stop Staring. I'm not one for wiggle dresses and skirts day to day, as I like to wear shapewear beneath tighter outfits, and I find that too fussy when chasing after my littles. Thus, I was excited when I returned to the workforce after Aurora was old enough to be without me, as I was able to place a good sized Stop Staring order!

One of my favourite things about Stop Staring is how comfortable their designs always are. I have worn dresses with a similar cut that pinched under the arms or chaffed in places it shouldn't - not what you want at the end of a long day. I've yet to wear a dress from Stop Staring that does any of this. Not only are they comfortable, but the attention to detail is obvious. Here, the gathers at the bottom of the bust and the details at the hips enhance both assets in a figure-flattering way. I am not wearing any shapewear in this shoot, and I don't feel I need it at all in this dress!

Their fabrics are from the heavens, I swear it. The fabric on the Karlie Dress, in particular, is amazing. Bengaline (also known as their millenium fabric) is one of my favourite fabrics due to it's ease of wear and flattering stretch, but the fabric on this one is even better. It's a little difficult to describe: it's slightly textured, which serves to better hide imperfections than bengaline, and a little less stretchy. It's still supremely comfortable, and zipping it up feels like everything just falls into place where it should.

The cut of the arms and bust is very dainty and flattering, with the neckline framing the bust without enhancing your cleavage too much for the office. The cut shows off your curves without being overly clingy, and the details are retro with a modern flair - again, contributing to it's fit for the office.

I am wearing a size small. My current measurements are 35-24-35, and I am 5'6" and 56 kilos, for reference. The size small fits perfectly - especially due to the stretch in the fabric, which helps each size accommodate a broad range.

I can't fault this dress, but if I had to point out one thing, it would be that I wish the bow at the bustline was sewn down. It tends to move sideways throughout the day. Honestly though, that's it! Everything else about this dress is dreamy and beautiful. 

So, if you are looking for retro workwear, I would start with Stop Staring. Their dresses are perfectly suited for both work and play, and are bound to leave you feeling sexy and sophisticated all at once.

Thank you so much for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll




Friday, 31 March 2017

Matching Mother Daughter Outfits - Hearts and Found Mitzi Dress and Children's Skirts!

I'd been waiting for several months to place a Hearts and Found order before finally getting to order the Mitzi Dress earlier this year. After having ordered matching red gingham skirts from them last year, I had complete trust in the customer service and quality of what I was ordering. Of course, I wasn't disappointed.

The Mitzi Dress has the most charming, classic 50's sillouette, which is what drew me to it in the first place. The sweetheart neckline and pretty gathers at the bust grabbed my attention first, and then the smocking at the sides sealed the deal - I knew this meant the dress would be comfortable. I chose Forget Me Not fabric in pink. This is no longer available, but the blue version can be found here. The Mitzi Dress runs at just $88USD. That's insane, honestly! Even with the conversion rate to AUD, I would pay more for a dress by any Australian retailer, and that's without the custom fit and quality.

There is plastic boning in the bodice that helps it to stay up, and the nice, full cups at the bust give you enough coverage to know nothing will peak out (as can happen in strapless dresses, trust me!) Unfortunately, I lost a couple of kilos before the dress arrived, so it doesn't stay up quite as well as I had hoped. This is becoming a common trend with my recent orders, unfortunately. The last of my baby weight came off all at once earlier in the year, and a few more kilos have come off on top of that. I don't really mind either way, but it makes it difficult to gauge what will fit when it arrives! To remedy this, I plan to add straps soon. I know it would have fit well and stayed up properly without the weight loss, so my love of the Mitzi Dress is still strong. I would suggest giving your measurements to Hearts and Found when ordering, and even asking them to make it a little tighter than usual just to be safe! The smocking will ensure that it doesn't feel too tight.

The skirt is nice and full and lined, and there are pockets! I know because I found $20 in them from the last time I wore this dress, and who doesn't love pockets and hidden money.

 (Those who follow me on Snapchat will have seen me talking about getting these photos. Poor Selene, who normally loves doing them, just wasn't having it that day. I bribed her with everything from playtime at the park to marshmallows. She gave in, in the end - and happily so, apparently, for all the kisses she showered me with. Toddlers.)

As with the gingham skirts I ordered last time, the girls matching skirts are of the utmost quality. They only charge $25 each for the girl's skirts. Given the quality and custom nature of them, I wouldn't be surprised if Hearts and Found end up charging more for them if ever they decide to do a children's line - it would be well within their right! Either way, low price or not, these skirts are just beautiful.

So, if you want a custom, well-designed dress for yourself, you know where to go! And if you want matching skirts for the littles in your life, you doubly know where to go. Happy shopping!




Thanks for reading!
xo Miss Betty Doll