Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Baking With Littles: Unicorn Milkshakes

As a girl who grew up reading fantasy novels about fairies and elves and all things unicorn, the unicorn craze that's swept the internet of late has been especially fun for me! Selene is equally imaginative, so when I told her we were making unicorn milkshakes, she gasped and squealed so loud she scared Aurora.

I've seen different versions of these floating around the cute little cafes of Melbourne, but I knew recreating one from home would both be economical, and save Selene a tummy ache. You see, by making it from home, you can control the ingredients that go into it, and make it (semi) healthy.

For this recipe, I chose to make a blueberry shake with real fruit, and kept the sugar to a minimum (in the shake, at least!).

The decorative options are endless. You can add different cereals (if you live in the sugar cereal capital of the world, also known as the US, you can have some serious fun with this one). You can dip  the rim of the glass in white chocolate and add popping candy, crushed lollies, sprinkles - anything!

To decorate the top, you can cut giant marshmallows in half and use them as "unicorn ears", with a stick lollipop for the "horn". You can even make a unicorn horn out of fondant by twisting two long strings of fondant together until they form a horn.

For me, I needed to keep things semi-simple, as I had little Aurora running around dumping things out and pulling things down. (Ah, life with a one year old...) So I made my little ice cream cone unicorn horns the night before, and set the ingredients out so Selene could have at it! I guided her, of course, but she did a good job if I do say so myself.

For the "milkshake"
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk

For a more traditional milkshake, you can have a little fun with it.

Traditional Milkshake
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk

For either recipe, simply blend until smooth, for about 20 seconds. For a traditional milkshake, you can add toasted marshmallows, different syrups, chocolate, bubblebum flavoring - anything that tickles your fancy, really. I kept things simple with my shake, because I knew I'd be doing bigger, prettier versions for photos, and I didn't want a sick toddler on my hands from sugar overload.

For the decorations, I used:
Marshmallows from Lucky Charms Cereal
Stick Lollipop
Rock Candy on a Stick
Rainbow Sour Straps
Loose Rock Candy
Lilac Chocolate Pearls

As I said the possibilities for these are endless, and you don't need to use as many ingredients as I did to make it special. Next time, I will make these for both of the girls without any ice cream at all, and with the rim of a much smaller glass, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, and maybe some rainbow marshmallows on top. It's a great way to give little ones a treat while getting them to drink something healthy for dessert - it doesn't have to be all about the sugar!

On a different topic - I've been getting occasional comments and messages with specific requests, like hairstyles and shoe posts! I actually have a couple, found here for hairstyles and here for shoes. It got me thinking, are there any particular posts you would like to see? I know there are about a million other blogs out there with clothing reviews, and I am always happy to take on requests and put something special together!

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll


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.

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