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Monday, 9 July 2018

Baking with Littles - Homemade Play Dough

Whilst this post contains a recipe which is neither baked nor edible, you are going to want to read it anyway.

Growing up, my mother always made homemade play dough. I used to get (secretly) jealous of my friends, who all had rows of store-bought Play-Doh in colorful tubs. It wasn't until later that I realised that my mother's recipe was not only 1000x softer than the store bought stuff, but also made with love and filled with endless possibilities.

Selene and Aurora have been cooking up playdough with me ever since they were little(er). They both love it. I have about 20 different Americolor dyes that they get to choose from. We love adding scents to it, and have made bubblegum, butterscotch and vanilla scented dough in the past. Glitter is also a favourite addition of ours, with both girls loving the way the glitter douses their little hands with magic.

I used a non-cook recipe for this one to see if it was easier, but honestly I stand by my tried and true stove-top recipe. It stays pliable for months and never fails!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbs cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs oil
  • food colouring
  • glitter (optional)
  • various flavours (for scenting, optional)


Mix all the ingredients but the food colouring, glitter and flavours in the pan over a low heat. Stir until pliable. Take the dough out, when cool, and split into 2-3 balls of dough. Dye with your colour(s) of choice, being patient as you kneed - it can take up to 5 minutes to get it mixed through. Stir in your favourite flavour for the scent, add glitter and you're done!












Our aprons are by the beautiful Bettie Von Sweetz. If you are on the lookout for a glamorous apron, this is your lady! She works in an office by day, and by night she passionately sews the most stunning creations - most of which you would never guess are aprons. It's such a joy following her on instagram - she talks often about her love for sourcing just the right materials for her creations. She's also stunning to boot! The ones we are wearing are custom-ordered. Want something special - just ask her!

Thank you so much for reading!

xo Miss Betty Doll

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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Tropicana Winter - Violets in May Hawaiian Dresses

Oh Violets in May, you have my heart. 

Violets in May is the creation of UK based pinup model Lola Diamond. It's amazing having a model be the brains and creator behind such a beautiful brand. Not only does she know how to fit everything just right to show off your curves, but she picks colours and fabrics that really pop on camera. 



We are in the dead of winter here in Melbourne. During business hours, I've been greeting clients with "My hands are freezing and I'm not made for this weather". However, most of the world is enjoying summer and sunshine, and I wanted to play on that by sharing this gorgeous creation. 


There are several different options for tropical wrap dresses. This dress is available in Flamingo Print here, however fabric is limited. If you can't get this fabric, there are several other options available in tropical prints, like this one here

All items can be custom-made, with limited runs of pre-made items. Despite the bespoke approach, Lola's prices are comparable to the likes of high-quality retro reproduction brands, giving you bang for your buck. 

I gave her my measurements and am in love with the fit. Halter styles like this dress can lead to neck pain if not properly fitted through the waist. They have to be tight enough that they can hold their own without squeezing you where you don't want it. The fit of this dress has it all, and I can't wait to take it out for beach days in the coming summer months. 


Thank you so much to the fabulous Brooke Orchard Photography for taking these photos earlier this year! I seem to bring stormy weather with me every shoot, and we fought the elements to get these photos. Brooke is an absolute professional and captures everything at just the right moment to get the images you dream of. 

Brooke recently added a boudoir package to her range of offerings. I was honoured to be her very first boudoir model, and she has done many since then - every one is more stunning than the last. Australian ladies, if you want an instant confidence boost and images you will never forget, get in touch with Brooke! You won't be disappointed. Check out her boudoir offerings here



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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Coming Up Roses in Jools Couture

Getting a package in the mail from Jools Couture is always the highlight of my week. The high quality clothing is always lovingly packed, complete with a note from Jools herself.

The level of comfort each Jools Couture piece affords is always a topic I bring into my blog reviews, and the Baby Doll Rouge Rose Skirt is no exception. For a trained corsetiere, Jools knows how to take beautiful brings and cuts and bring them to life with comfort levels that rival that of her beautiful loungewear range.

The waistband of the skirt is elastic and securely sewn in a way that it won't fold or flip as the day wears on. The cut flares slightly at the bottom, giving you a feminine shape and feel. The ultra-stretch tec fabric hugs every curve and is super soft to the touch.

Most of the stretch fabric pencil skirts you might find in a department store aren't made to last. After a few washes you would see pilling and lack of elasticity. The fabric Jools uses is specially made to last, and I can't speak highly enough of it!






I can't get enough of beautiful floral prints, even in winter. For colder weather, I've been dressing the skirt up with layers. This white Pussybow Tie Top by Bonsai Kitten (other colours available here) and red jacket by Portman's have been doing the trick.

For those of you who haven't tried the footwear available from Kitten D'Amour - ladies, you are missing out! I am wearing The Vixen Shoe in red (available here), and have done so several times since I purchased them a couple of months ago. The cushioning inside the shoe makes for maximum comfort (can you see a theme in this post?) and I could walk in these all day without getting a sore arch.






For a personal update: I've taken a mini break from blogging whilst I started a new job (same career, different company). I've had studies coming out of my ears and new clients and took on too much all at once. I always do. But it's been an amazing month and I feel so good about the changes I've made.

I am taking a single term break from University because we will be travelling! We are going to see my husband's extended family in Montenegro for 2 weeks, and then we are going to Paris in September.

I've been working hard and doing my best to balance time with my husband and girls, but it hasn't been enough. I've been missing out on sleep just so I can fit everything in (we're talking four hours every night) and this vacation has come at just the right time. I also made a commitment to myself to save in our earliest years of marriage and save the travels for later - and now is the time to finally start travelling.

For those who have been following my blog or instagram page for a while, you'll know that my father passed away last September. We are putting some of what he left to me towards our time in Paris, including spoiling the girls at Disneyland Paris and eating at all the restaurants we want to. It's part of my way of honoring him, as we will be going the same month as his death anniversary. We can't wait!

For those of you ladies who travel often, I'd love your tips for long haul flights. We will have an initial 14 hour flight and then another 7 hour flight! I'd love your tips for staying fresh through all of that travel.

Thanks for reading!
xo Miss Betty Doll
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Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Meaning of Motherhood (and Blush Floral Prints)

Martin and the girls blessed me with such a beautiful Mother's Day. They got me gift vouchers to the spa, and took me out for two different lunches and a gorgeous crepe cake dessert. 









Following Mother's Day, one topic that has been on my mind a lot lately is the meaning of motherhood. You see, I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who dedicated much of her time to domestic duties. She was a pseudo-parent to many of my friends, created lunches for my father that were the envy of all of his co-workers, and home-schooled my brother and I for half of our school years. She was, and is, my Suzie Homemaker, domestic goddess of a mother, and I appreciated every bit of it growing up.



During my couple of years of maternity leave with my girls, I was able to pick up that torch and run with it. My husband has come home, more times than I can count, to me breast-feeding a baby with one arm and mixing a cake with the other. I was never a typical stay-at-home-mom, as I never really stayed at home long, but I loved all of it. I'd get up in the mornings and meet a fellow mama at a cafe, and then spend my afternoons cleaning and organising and being with my daughters. I worked part-time between babies, and thought I would be part-time until both were in school. 


After choosing to return to work full-time when Aurora was a year and a half old, our lives all changed forever. I now cook a couple of times a week instead of every night, play a lot of catch-up on chores on the weekends, and can often be caught falling asleep at my computer when I study at night. 

Honestly, the first 6 months of being full time caused me a lot of heartache. Last year was very difficult anyway, with so many family deaths and hardships, but being away from my babies was especially painful. But about 6 months into being full-time, I finally felt myself adjust. My husband and I found our rhythm, Selene started to understand why mommy was away from home more often, the added finances started to result in the most beautiful weekend outings and I found ways to fit in my baking days with the girls. 

Mostly, though, I made a conscious effort to release the guilt. I am studying a very difficult degree, full-time at night with no assistance, I am working in a high-stress (but ever rewarding) field, I am running a blog. And still I have allowed myself to feel like I am not enough - like I should be playing with them more often, cooking more often, being more patient, organising my time better.. the list goes on. And why? Why do mothers allow ourselves to feel so much guilt? Why, when we are working so hard to provide the best lives we can for our families, be it via being a homemaker or working full-time outside the home. 

Lately, Selene has been watching me when I'm not looking, and making the sweetest comments. "Mommy, you make the best food". "Mommy, you always buy me beautiful dresses". "Mommy, you work really hard". It's as if she knows. 


So, fellow mamas - as the warm and fuzzy feelings leftover from Mother's Day's spoiling starts to fade away, I want you to be kind to yourself. There is no one kind of mother. There is no one kind of family. And there should be no guilt, no shame in the way you choose to parent. You, wherever you are, are doing an astounding job, and your children see - even when they are throwing mashed potatoes on the floor or whining for a new toy or whatever cheeky business they are getting up to that day. They know. 

And the answer to that question, what is motherhood?: it is the self-sacrificing, resilient, sleep-evading, unconditional loving persona in all of us - no matter how you choose to mother.



I am wearing a Blush Floral dress by Stop Staring, which is currently sold out. The same print is available in an equally beautiful dress here. Half of my office wardrobe is made up of Stop Staring dresses, and I have my eye on a few more!

The girls are wearing these gorgeous dresses here by Arabella and Rose! I love their clothing and need to fill their wardrobes with several more of their dresses. 





Thank you so much for reading <3

xoxo
Miss Betty Doll








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Saturday, 28 April 2018

Transeasonal Wear - Autumn is here!

First of all, I'd like to give a giant thank you to the beautiful Brooke from Brooke Orchard Photography. I'm so honored to have worked with her again and can't wait to make more magic together this year!

Melbourne has one of the trickiest climates in which to navigate transeasonal wear. There's the constant wind and rain and unpredictable temperatures. You could be shivering at 8am and fanning yourself by 1pm. It's for this reason that I bring you my guide to Autumn fashion, which will double as winter wear in some warmer climates like California.

First of all, let's start with layering. I have a Mak cardigan in just about every colour, and they've done wonders for my wardrobe. There are many places to purchase them, but my favourite is still Le Bomb Shop, which carries them in every colour. You can grab them here. They are very light and provide just enough coverage to keep you warm and help with layering for unpredictable weather. Not to mention they make many outfits office-friendly. 

Secondly, I can't suggest a good leather jacket enough. Being a vegetarian, I always purchase vegan leather. Luckily, this makes my "leather" jackets more inexpensive, so I have quite a collection. 


Here are a few of my favourites that I either own or have my eye on:







Next, capes are working so well for me this season. They are one of those items that give an outfit an instant lift. I particularly love the Sabrina Cape by Dolly and Dotty, as it's light weight and cropped at just the right length. 




Finally, gloves are a must-have for an autumn wardrobe - especially to accompany capes. They add an instant autumnal shift to your wardrobe. Forever new here in Australia has been a favourite glove destination of mine for years, but there are many others.


Asos (just search "gloves" on the Asos website for your country)




What are your favourite transeasonal pieces?

xo Miss Betty Doll
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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Flower Festivals and Cherry Dresses - The Ellad Swing Dress in Cherry Print by Stop Staring

Melbourne never has a shortage of events to attend. From festivals and markets to ballets and art exhibitions, we've never had trouble staying busy here. Which is a good thing, as I love adventure. 

The Festival of Flowers in Victoria was absolutely stunning this year. We ended up going fairly late in the day, but were still able to explore all it had to offer. The festival (which has now ended!) is a couple of hours outside of the CBD. There was a fairy village, food trucks and flowers as far as the eye could see. 

Knowing this would be one of the last sunny weekends Melbourne had to offer before Autumn really kicks in, the girls and I wore matching cherry dresses. Mine is from Stop Staring, and it worked well with the pretty surrounds. 














This is the first time I'd worn this flutter-sleeve style, called the Ellad Dress. It's also available in an all too appropriate Tulip Print

I must say I love this one. I had it taken up as it's a dress I can only see myself wearing on very warm days. The flutter sleeves would prove bulky under a cardigan, I feel, and the gorgeous print alone makes it the perfect Spring/Summer style. I'm glad I did, as the girls and I ended up spending the better part of an hour running up and down the flower fields. 

The sleeves can be worn on or off the shoulder. I switched between both throughout the day, depending on how much literal running around I was doing. 

I am wearing the size small, or UK size 6. The waist is a smidge loose, but I've been wearing a little belt with it and it fits well overall! It proved to be the perfect dress for our family day out. 

The Ellad Dress in Cherry Print can be purchased here

xo, Miss Betty Doll

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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Baking with Littles: Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Alright you beautiful American readers: if you have some last minute Easter baking to do, and have some cake mix and marshmallows laying around, I have a recipe for you!

This one has popped up in my pinterest feed so many times I'm not sure who the original poster was, but I just love this idea. Selene and I threw this together a couple of days ago for our Good Friday dessert, and it was so easy. 


Easter Bunny Cupcakes


Ingredients:
  • Boxed cake mix (any kind will do)
  • Buttercream frosting (recipe below)
  • Large white marshmallows
  • pink sugar crystals
  • pink edible beads

Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk (add more to desired consistency)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla bean
Instructions:
  1. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions and bake in cupcake tin for 10-12 minutes
  2. While cupcakes are baking, prepare frosting by mixing softened butter for 30 seconds and gradually adding the icing sugar, milk and vanilla. 
  3. Scoop into a pipping bag and use any large star tip to swirl on the frosting
  4. Cut marshmallows in half and dip the exposed insides of the marshmallows in the pink sugar crystals. 
  5. Enjoy your super easy bunny cupcakes!
Make this recipe littles friendly by having your little one dip the marshmallows in the sugar crystals or mix the cake mix with you. 



We spent our Easter weekend at the National Gallery of Victoria, and it was stunning! Today we trialled out V Junior, which is a child-friendly movie experience by Village Cinemas here in Australia. There is a giant slide down the side, legos to play and staff to cater for you throughout. I hadn't expected either experience to go as well as it did, from the free holiday weekend entry at the gallery to the special care at the movies. I'm so thankful I get another day with the girls and my hubby tomorrow. 

Easter outfits are always tricky in Melbourne. I'm used to my Northern Hemisphere seasons from back in the US, with Easter falling in springtime. Easter here in Australia is well into autumn, so it can be nice weather or freezing (like last year). This year it was beautiful, so I threw on my Collectif Clothing dress last minute (see review here) because it matched so well with Selene and Aurora's dresses from Arabella and Rose


 


As a side note... I have to say how incredibly thankful I am for this community of (mostly!) women. I know I'm not alone when I say how uplifting you all are. Social media can be an all-consuming spiral that sucks up your time and leaves you wanting, but the ladies of the pinup community have all been extra special. 

I've had days over the past few weeks where my university assignments have piled up, work has consumed every aspect of my life and I've come home so tired I can barely stand. Like most women, I often doubt myself as a mother and fight the mom guilt that plagues most of us. And then I hop on my instagram account and see words of encouragement from gorgeous women whom I've never even met. Some I've encouraged myself, some whom I hadn't had the pleasure of speaking to until then. In an age where what it means to be a woman, a mother (or not!), a wife (or not!) and where the very meaning of feminism is constantly changed, I'm so thankful to be part of a network of supportive women. 

Bettie Von Sweetz, the maker of the gorgeous aprons Selene and I are wearing, is one of those women. If you are in need of a one-of-a-kind creation with all the glitz and glamour a girl can muster, head over to her Etsy page here! She puts more love into her apron designs than I ever thought possible. I cherish mine every time I pull them out to do some baking, and I know you will too!


Thank you so much for reading!

xo Miss Betty Doll
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