A Merry Little Christmas | Lifestyle

christmas card with angel wings on francescasophia.co.uk  a selection of uk high street gift cards on francescasophia.co.uk
The inevitable Christmas 'haul' post; I do, typically, dig my heels in about this kind of thing, but I really enjoyed scanning through some of the Christmas posts (read: being nosey and peeking at other people's presents) on my reading list, so I figured I'd get involved this year, and share a couple of my favourite gifts from the day.
a harry potter deathly hallows metal framework silver necklace from sawyer and scout  Viktor & Rolf flowerbomb perfume packaging
So incredibly grateful for everything I was given this year, particularly the two presents pictured above - I had yet to see a Deathly Hallows necklace that I liked before stumbling across this piece online, and am now completely in love with at least 90% of the goodies Sawyer & Scout have to offer, and the Viktor & Rolf perfume is something I've been not-so-subtly hinting about since about mid-August, so I was incredibly lucky to receive both - and gift cards to justify my likely new year splurging were, of course, the cherry on top.
hot chocolate and marshmallows in front of the christmas tree
Anyway, I won't bore you with too much photo-spam this holiday season (is that a sigh of relief I hear?),  but I hope you all had as lovely a Christmas as I did, however you spent it, and are recovering from serious food-hangovers as best you can.
What were your favourite (material) gifts, this season?

All the Small Things | Life

Broken iPhone screen looking for Alaska by John Green
This week's had its ups and downs, like most; my first university fire drill seemed like a pretty interesting start to the week, up until the moment I dropped my iPhone (as I'm sure you can tell from the picture, I'm in need of a new screen - can anyone recommend a drop-in repair place in either Canterbury or London?); I finally finished 'One Day', which I had a love/hate relationship with, and started 'Looking for Alaska', which, so far, isn't quite living up to the expectations I'd had for it.
a desk full of brainstorms, notes, and post-it notes alongside a few pens
After spending far too much time studying this week (working at university, who'd have thought?), it soon picked up as my flatmates and I shared our first ever joint tequila night on Friday, shots downed whilst reminiscing over Dib Dab lollies and listening to some old-school R'n'B - No Scrubs, anyone?
four Domino's Pizza boxes and four tubs of ben and jerry's on a tabletwo open Domino's Pizza boxes, revealing two vegetarian pizzas, and an open domino's pizza box full of potato wedges
By Sunday, mass lethargy had, of course, kicked in, and following a disgruntled search through my flatmates' veggie student cookbook and some serious drooling over Domino's menu, we caved in and had a serious girls' night in, two huge pizzas between the three of us, and four tubs of Ben & Jerry's - some of which are still calling to me from my freezer as I type, a serious test of willpower!
Domino's dessert waffles in their delivery boxfrancesca sophia pulling a face at her desk in a university dorm room
The sad thing is, I hadn't even had anything to drink when that last photo was taken - I am just genuinely that naturally unphotogenic!
What's your guilty pleasure when you've had 'one of those weeks'? Food, like me? A good book? Tequila?

Changing Spots | Outfit Post

Leopard-Print Skater Dress - Topshop, £28; Suedette Boots - H&M, £30; Leather Satchel - River Island, £70; Heart-Shaped Pendant - Forever 21, £6.It's officially impossible to take an even semi-decent outfit post in my university accommodation.

I haven't been shopping since I moved to university, not proper, full-on, clothes shopping. Something about the daunting budget and the sudden expenses of 'reading week' and the many events going on in and around town (and the odd slightly impromptu concert weekend in London) have made splurging on clothes a little more difficult, as of late.
Needless to say, I snapped, this dress being one of the many slightly reckless purchases from a weekend of clothing-centric behaviour.
I was having withdrawals, okay?
You'll be seeing most of the latest purchases around in the next couple of weeks (as part of my self-induced resolution to start posting more outfit photographs), I'm sure.

In other news...I got Florence + the Machine tickets in the pre-sale this morning (as those following my twitter will already know)! I saw her when she was touring 'Lungs' in 2009 (back before Dog Days was played everywhere, and she's amazing live, so I'm pretty excited! Is anyone else going to see her in March?

Settling in to University | Lifestyle

a photograph of a university dorm room; a floral duvet sits on a bed covered by a fluffy white blanket, white fairy lights just above it; a desk chair sits at a desk with a macbook on a table, in front of a noticeboard full of photographs
I have been at university for exactly nine days, and, so far, they have been nine pretty amazing days; it's been a pretty emotional roller coaster, plenty of unnecessary tears, lots of laughing, far too much alcohol, and some serious flatmate-bonding (with the odd dose of over-sharing).
I didn't get my internet up until yesterday (apparently my gorgeous new MacBook Air wasn't quite good enough for my university's special network requirements, and I had to order a cable for it), so there's been a disgusting lack of posting for the past week and a half (why does it always feel so much longer in the Blogosphere?), but I'm sure I'll be up to my usual frequency now that we've all settled down a little and actually have to start learning.
a noticeboard full of photographs sits above a desk with a macbook and some post-it notes on it
I was the first in my flat of eight students to contract the dreaded 'Fresher's Flu', which I have ungraciously passed on to at least three other people, but we've all soldiered on quite well, considering; the fact that I've made my way through an entire pack of Lemsip tablets in about three days probably helps matters.
fairy lights in the shape of flowers are alight
The above pictures are all from my new room - unsurprisingly, the fairy lights were the first thing to be unpacked, and one of my noticeboards is already packed with photos from home!
I'm actually dreading the first wave of homesickness, which hasn't quite hit me yet, but my mother's visiting next weekend so it'll probably be pure devastation when she leaves and I may well be inconsolable, who knows?

I hope everyone else who made the move either last week, like me, or the weekend that just passed, is settling in as well as I am to their new lives away from home, and that you're not all missing your hometowns too much.

To everyone who's 'been there, done that' - how did you cope with homesickness when you first left home? How did you cope with Fresher's Flu? And, most importantly, how on earth did you keep yourself awake during lectures after a serious night out?

Chocolate Crackle Cookies | Recipe

I've been feeling a little stressed, lately. Waiting for exam results, getting ready for (hopefully!) heading to university in September, and everything that might entail, combined with some rather unfortunate family drama has really taken it out of me.
crackle chocolate cookies sitting on a cooling rack, in a pile
 Of course, being...well, me, there's only one innate reaction I have, when feeling overwhelmed; I bake.
Now, I'm certainly not pretending to be anything but an amateur in the kitchen, but it's a hobby I've harboured for as long as I can remember, and it's a passion I've felt an overwhelming need to indulge in recent weeks.

Upon meeting with friends last week, a look of alarm quickly spread amongst them; concern, even, at the sight of my contribution to the get-together - two large packages of various homemade treats  - 'we know you're cracking up when the mixing bowls come out', mumbled A- through a mouthful of oatmeal cookie (because, no matter their concern about my personal state, they are always grateful for the homebaked goodies).
Of course, the moment I saw the name of these cookies - 'Chocolate Crackles' - I laughed, A-'s words springing instantly to mind, and I knew I just had to make them.
Plus, visually, these cookies are incredible.
crackle chocolate cookies sitting on a cooling rack, side by side
Personally, I thought they were...okay. Definitely not an unpleasant taste, don't get me wrong - and I definitely think it's a personal thing, because everyone who tried one thought they were delicious - personally, I'm not a huge fan of pure chocolate in general, but that's just me, I guess!
Mind you, it could just be that, with the sheer amount of preparation these cookies entailed, I was expecting something...more.
Definitely the kind of cookie you make to impress. Or, you know, take some quite nice photos (something the poor light in my kitchen wouldn't permit a great deal of).

What about you guys? Which hobbies or past-times do you indulge when you're feeling the pressures of everyday life? Are you a bit of an amateur baker, or is there another way to soothe yourself when you're feeling overwhelmed?
Recipe after the jump, if you're interested in whipping up a batch!


All Star Lanes Bowling and Diner in London | Lifestyle

My birthday was actually on Monday (the 25th), but seeing as I haven't actually made any posts as a nineteen year old as of yet, I figured I'd just share a couple of photos, until I recover enough from the events of the past few days (I'm quite convinced I've contracted some form of  'post birthday flu') to put together a slightly more cohesive post!
all star lanes london bowling alley and diner review; the all star lanes logo sign in neon above the stairs to enter 
There are three All Star Lanes locations in London (I attended the Holborn branch), all of which have three aspects; as the name would suggest, they all centre around bowling lanes - I'm not actually much of a fan of bowling, so they've never much appealed to me, but each location also contains a 50s-style diner and bar. Upon searching for a fun, laid-back location for my (rather extensive!) birthday meal, I was told the bowling wasn't actually a necessary component, so it seemed the perfect solution, and I'd definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a fun night out in London, special occasion or not!

I didn't get too many photos from the evening (and the ones that I do have are far from flattering, as you're about to see!), as I had some family in attendence as well as my friends, and it turns out 12-year-old cousins aren't the most reliable photographers, but I couldn't refuse them the oppurtunity to mess around with my camera a little!
chocolate birthday cake with silver candles and a gift bag reading 'saw this and...thought of you'

lamps alight on low tables at all star lanes london bowling alley and diner

francesca sophia and a friend sitting on a red leather couch and talking
I'd also like to take the chance to thank everyone who wished me a happy birthday, it's lovely that so many of you took the time to do so!

Forever 21's UK Launch | Event

The forever 21 logo in white on a large black screen at the Forever 21 UK launch party in London 
Ever since Forever 21 launched their Birmingham store late last year, I have been eagerly awaiting a London branch (in all honesty, before the location of the London branch was confirmed, I was genuinely considering saving up to head to the Bullring for a major shopping spree); and, thanks to the lovely Sandra of 5inchandup, on Wednesday evening, I was given the opportunity to attend the London launch party!
a large green, pink, and yellow pier construction at the Forever 21 UK launch party in London
With Bip Ling on the decks (and fronting the launch campaign), fortune tellers, a very well-stocked teepee bar, roller girls, catering by the 'Meat Wagon' food truck (plus a lovely selection of old-fashioned pick-n-mix), and manicures by Wah! Nails, it definitely shaped up to be a great night, and I don't think the well-loved American brand could have done a better job establishing themselves on the London scene.
Pictures from the Forever 21 Launch Party in London, UK with new launch accessories and a table full of sweets
And then came the holographic catwalk show; by far one of the best representations I could have imagined of the brands' image, compiled into a few snappy minutes of high-tech 3D fashion which left everyone (in the viewing I attended, at least) in complete awe. Jewellery samples and accessories galore were piled into beach huts on a custom-made replica of the Santa Monica pier, giving anyone unfortunate fashionistas who hadn't yet been exposed to the retailer's products a great insight into their brand's image.

Forever 21 opens at 360 Oxford Street (opposite Bond Street tube station) on Wednesday 27th July; head over to Forever 21's EU Facebook page for more details and pictures from the launch!
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