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Saturday, 11 January 2020

A Long Overdue Review: Retrospec'd Sarong Dress

Happy New Year to all of you. I cannot believe we are in 2020. We've all seen the memes about how funny it is that the year 2000 feels like yesterday and it was really 20 years ago, but oh, how true it is. It now means that the big milestones we have passed were now in the last decade, and we have a fresh, new decade before us. 

I have been saying for years that it is the pursuit of growth and meaning that matters - not happiness, and a new year is a time to reflect on that. Happiness is an emotion. It is fleeting. It is the meaning behind the moments that give you happiness that really matter, and meaning can be found in hard times and good. If I could wish anything for you this year, it is that you grow and find meaning. 

And now on to my first review of 2020! Retrospec'd is a brand I have wanted to review again for years, but never have. The reason is this: I absolutely cannot take photos that will do their dresses justice compared to their photographer! Brook Orchard Photography provides all of the shoots for the stunning dresses of Retrospec'd Clothing, and Brook is absolutely amazing at what she does. Nonetheless, they are 100% worth investing your money in, and thus 100% worth a review!

Retrospec'd makes high quality clothing right here in Australia. I occasionally fill in my wardrobe with fast fashion pieces if I cannot find what I need from a high quality brand, and I cannot tell you how differently their clothing feels from fast fashion. They are well made, the fabrics do not fade, and the cut is designed with comfortable form fitting in mind. 

The Sarong Dress that I am wearing (link here) has shirring along the back and well-placed boning in the bodice. This means it easily stays up without straps (though it does come with straps that I often tuck in when wearing the dress). It also gives the most beautiful sillouette. I am a modest C cup, and my measurements are 35-24.5-35. Even with my cup size, the bust looks full due to the clever design. For reference, I am wearing a size 6 AU and find their dresses to be true to size. 

These dresses are honestly show stoppers. There's never been a time when I have worn a Retrospec'd creation that I have not been stopped in the street and asked about my outfit. They are modeled after true 1940s and 1950s frocks by a sister duo who are just too good at what they do!

As if all that weren't enough, the US dollar is so strong right now that their dresses will be highly affordable for you American ladies. And, for us in Australia, Retrospec'd being an Australian brand means we are supporting our local market and don't have to pay nearly double due to US exchange rates. Win/Win!!

If you have any questions about this or any other brand, get in touch. 

xo Miss Betty Doll

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Baking with Littles - Bloody Cupcakes for Halloween!

Baking isn't meant to be stressful. 

I grew up in a wonderland of homemade everything. From our granola down to our cleaning products. But I work full time and cannot make that happen without becoming an anxiety ridden being. So I am always taking cute recipes from Pinterest and making them as easy as possible.

I keep seeing these cute Halloween cupcakes floating around, often with extra toppings like candy "glass" for an extra punch. But I wanted to make them easy enough for my 3 and 5 year old to help with.

Bloody Cupcakes 

Buttercream frosting
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Royal icing

  • 1/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp water (more or less for consistency)
  • Red food coloring


Your favourite cupcake mix. I use Bettie Crocker Devil's Food Cake (fitting, no?)

Let your little ones help you mix the ingredients and pour into the cupcake liners, depending on how old they are.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the buttercream.  Mix the softened butter for 2 minutes with a mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and slowly add the milk until it is soft enough to handle but thick enough to stand on its own. 

For the "blood" icing, mix the icing sugar with water until it is runny- add the water slowly so it doesn't get too runny. Add the food coloring.
I put the buttercream in 2 separate piping bags so both of my girls could decorate at the same time. This worked really well. After the cupcakes cooled completely, I guided them through piping the frosting onto the cupcakes, and then let them drip the blood icing all over. The end result is far from perfect - just like a treat baked by children should be!

We went cheap and quick with our costumes this year. $12 witch costumes for the girls, and I'm using an existing black outfit when a witch's hat that we already had. Halloween continues to gain popularity in Australia, so we can't wait to go trick or treating.

Happy Halloween ♡♡

Xo Miss Betty Doll


Monday, 9 September 2019

Oh My Mak! Matching Mother Daughter Cardigans

I used to do almost all the shopping for the girls at a place called Pumpkin Patch, which shut down a couple of years ago. I have been desperately seeking new cardigans for the girls in black and several other colours and have had no luck - until recently! 

Mak has released a Mommy and Me line and I am in love. I have been wearing Mak sweaters for years, incorporating them into my spring and autumn outfits. 

The little girls' line consists of the long sleeved, v neck cut and comes in:

  • baby yellow
  • black
  • lavender
  • red
  • light pink
  • white
  • camel

We have the pink, lavender, black and red and use them all consistently. They are especially perfect for Melbourne's unpredictable weather, for which we tend to layer up for. The black is perhaps my favourite, as black is one of the hardest colours to find in children's sweaters.

Sizing wise, Selene is wearing size 6/8 and Aurora is wearing size 2/4. I generally purchase sweaters big enough to last for a year or two in a size bigger than usual. Selene is a size 6 (she is 5 years old) and Aurora is a size 5 (she is 3 years old). Both cardigans are a perfect fit, and the stretch leaves them with room to grow!

Best of all, these are extremely affordable, just like the rest of the Mak sweater line. The girls' cardigans are only $33.50 USD each. International shipping is free if your order exceeds $100USD, and if you sign up for their mailing list you get 35% off!

If you are looking for sweaters to add to your wardrobe that are affordable and easy to wear, or if you want matching sweaters for the little girl in your life, Mak is your shop! 

 In other news, I realised I haven't shared anything really personal in quite a while on the blog. I suppose the reason for this is I've been hibernating over the winter period and enjoying it. I've organised several parts of our home, begun listening to several incredible podcasts and gotten lost down the rabbit hole of documentaries with my husband.

One exciting event I am looking forward to is visting home for the first time in nearly two years. Our last family vacation was well over a year ago and we are in desperate need of some good family time. Martin and I also have our 10 year anniversary coming up in December, which we will celebrate a little earlier in November.

Thank you so much for reading <3

xo Miss Betty Doll


Saturday, 24 August 2019

Baking with Littles: Easy Blueberry Pie

There is nothing like homemade crust. I remember my mother teaching me how to use cold chunks of butter and combine them with flour to make the best, flakiest pie crust. 

But I was 10 when I first learned how to do that. Perhaps even older. And my daughters are currently 3 and 5. So today I have a few tips for making a pretty pie that is quick enough to hold a child's interest. 

Easy Blueberry Pie

  • 5 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg (for the egg wash)
  • 1 tsp sugar (for garnishing the crust)
  • Pre-made pie crust


Roll out the pie crust, line a glass pie dish with the dough and then bake for 10 minutes. This will help give the bottom crust structure and not get soggy. 

Mix the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon, cinnamon and salt together in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before ladeling it on top of the baked pie crust. 

For the lattice topping, instead of a true lattice, cut 12 strips of dough and let your little ones lay them horizontally first and slight;y diagonally on top. A true lattice crust is too difficult for children to master! This gives the illusion of a lattice top crust. 

Let your little one brush the pie crust with the egg wash and then sprinkle sugar on top for a sparkling finish. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

These steps are all easy enough that even a toddler can jump in to help at any time. Measuring out the ingredients, stirring the pie filling under supervision or laying the lattice crust on top are all good ways of helping. 

We are wearing our favourite aprons from Bettie von Sweetz. She makes the most stunning aprons, used my mothers like me and burlesque dancers who want to incorporate the stunning creations into their routines. 


Friday, 19 July 2019

The Pretty Dress Company - Hourglass Wrap Dress Review

I have been stalking the beautiful styles at The Pretty Dress company for years now. I remember when I first stumbled upon their website - before they exploded in popularity in the retro community, and felt like I'd stumbled upon a gold mine of dresses.

My favourite style of theirs is the Tilly Dress - the off shoulder style and pretty bows are gorgeous - but the dress I chose to get recently is the Hourglass Faux Wrap Pencil Dress in this lovely lilac. I am a huge fine of lilac and lavender dresses, but have very few in my wardrobe (mostly because it's not a very common colour and dresses in that shade are hard to find). 

I got a size 6 and the fit is perfect. I knew a 6 would be the right fit, even though I am somewhere between a UK size 6 and 8 (US size 2 and 4), because I have worn size 8 dresses from The Pretty Dress company before and they were too big. Their sizing tends to be generous. 

I have been mixing a few fast fashion pieces into my wardrobe lately as I experiment with new styles - for example I have been loving mini skirts and more of a 60s look during winter. Anyway, I love having a truly high quality dress on my body again. You can feel the difference the second you put it on. The stitching is well done, the dress itself is well constructed and the material is thick and of high quality. I do wish there was slightly more stretch to their dresses for a bit of a sexier fit - but these are meant to be classy and it works beautifully!

I would recommend ordering with a friend where you can, as these are in pounds, and for Australians and Americans (and many other places!) the conversion rate at the moment is not great. Ordering with a friend will save you on shipping at least. I also recommend checking out their sale section often, as they do a fantastic job of churning dresses in their sale section and add the latest styles - it's not just bottom-of-the-barrel leftovers in the sale section, but many stunning dresses! 

If you are looking for some feminine office-appropriate dresses I would check out the Hourglass Faux Wrap dresses. And if you are looking for your next evening gown, or a gorgeous, unique off the shoulder number, this is absolutely the shop for you! 


Sunday, 23 June 2019

Let's talk about skincare, baby - a Lancome review

It's my 28th birthday in a few weeks. This year I decided to dedicate time finding a better skincare line as I inch toward my 30s.

I had terrible skin growing up. I had acne from the time I was 9 (I know, 9!) and then it went as quickly as it came by the time I was 13. I've had pretty clear skin since then, but it's very dry and prone to wrinkles because of it.

I walked into Myer (our resident department store, for those of you not in Australia!) and asked the ladies at the counters of several skincare lines what they recommend for dry skin. Lancome was the only brand that had products I felt would work with my skin type.

There several lines to choose from when it comes to dry skin and anti-aging, both of which are my main concerns. In terms of a price point and value,, the lines that drew my attention were Hydra Zen and Advance Genefique.

I'll start with Hydra Zen. As you can tell from the name, Hydra Zen is aimed at deep moisturization and anti-stress. While the anti-stress part may sound like a bit of fluff, what it's referring to is the external factors of stress on skin, such as artificial temperature (air conditioning and heating) and things like wind and chill. My favourite part of the Hydra Zen line is the delicate scent.

Every morning and night I use the I use the Tonique Comfort toner for removing residue and makeup. I follow this with the Vissionaire Advanced Skin Corrector , which reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines. This is followed by the Hydra Zen Anti-stress Moisturizing Cream on days when my skin feels especially dry. I am still using a drug store moisturizer with SPF protection for day time for the time being, but may switch to one of Lancome's offerings later on.

At night I use the Tonique Comfort , although I received the Bi-Facil Visage toner recently as a free gift with purchase and have found that to be a perfect alternative. I follow this with the Advanced Genefique Serum and the Genefique Night Repair Cream.

I have never had softer or more hydrated skin since starting this routine. If you are considering upgrading your skincare and are looking for recommendations, I can't recommend Lancome enough.

I have tried to be clever about my Lancome purchases, and have had quite a bit of success! I have purchased creams and serums from for nearly half price, and have waited for sales and times when certain items are gifted with purchase. I would say I have spent half the RRP for most of the products in one way or another.

The price list for Aussie girls is here (and as many of you are in the US, you will know that everything is less expensive there)

Tonique Comfort - $63AUD for 200ml
Hydra Zen Anti-Stress Cream - $90AUD for 50ml
Advanced Genefique Serum - $100 for 30ml
Genefique Night Repair Cream - $148 for 50ml
Vissionaire Advanced Skin Corrector - $115 for 30ml

I've been asked about my skincare routine several times now, and was excited to finally share it. I hope this helps, and thank you so much for reading.



Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Minding Her Business + Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

I've heard it said that if you aren't pushing yourself - if you aren't uncomfortable, you're not growing. I can't tell you how true I have found that to be.

Think of where you are at right now. If you are performing your daily routine with such ease that you are getting bored, chances are there is a beautiful opportunity for you to grow. It doesn't even have to be in a big way.

Every year I set 2-3 goals for the year and then take smaller steps throughout the year to reach those bigger goals. One of my goals was to become more confident with networking, so when Minding Her Business kindly reached out to invite me to their first event in Melbourne, I jumped at the chance.

I am introverted by nature, and over the years I have come to accept and love that part of myself without trying to change my core being. I will probably always stand closer to the walls at parties, be happier with a few close friends than a myriad of friends and need recharge time by being alone. That is part of being an introvert! However, what I can change about what naturally comes with introversion is nervousness at events where I may not know many people. Networking events are the perfect opportunity to stretch and flex my introvert muscle and feel more comfortable in my skin at parties.

I invited the beautiful Suzy (miss_sueky on instagram) who I had been speaking to for months but never met. This was another huge step out of my comfort zone (hello fear of rejection!) but she gladly obliged and off we went.

I feel blessed to have been given such a lovely opportunity to become more comfortable with networking events, because this was stunning. Set at Greenfield's, Albert Park and hosted by the lovely Katie Stevens, it ended up being the best way to spend a Saturday morning. Every speaker on the panel admitted to being nervous about public speaking, and the host herself advised the audience of ladies that she was nervous about hosting this event as it was the first in Melbourne.

Everything I have done that forms who I am now was started by a step in an uncomfortable direction. Moving to Australia, having children at a young age, studying after having those children, beginning a career in the cutthroat industry of recruitment - all of those choices have led to amazing things!

I've failed at it too, of course. I wanted to learn French last year so I took 6 months of classes, but ended up so time poor I finally stopped (but not before learning several phrases, the entire French alphabet and that the last letter of words in French is rarely pronounced!). I wanted to try ballet this year too but took one class and knew it would not work with my schedule. And none of that has had a negative impact on me, it's just helped me better shape my goals.

So, today I encourage you to examine what parts of your life are all too comfortable. Set some goals. Try to orient them around the unspoken desires of your heart. They don't have to be huge. Maybe you always wanted to learn an instrument, or take a course, or end a friendship that is toxic to you. Whatever it is, just do it. Once you start making small, brave adjustments to your life, you won't stop and you won't regret it. I promise.

Photography by Taylor Jarrod Photography
Event by Minding Her Business
Dress by Stop Staring

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