Finishing Touches

Today's the day I finally get the internet in my new house at university! I can't even begin to describe how ridiculously excited I am, I think I might have an unhealthy amount of love for my laptop, if I'm honest. 
I'll be making a proper return to blogging over the next couple of days, but I figured I'd make my first proper 'second-year psychology student' post all about my gorgeous new bedroom for the next year; it's a bit of a work-in-progress, for the time being, but I'm so excited to finally be able to settle in and start making it look pretty, I never got the chance to do so with my London bedroom before I headed to Canterbury, so this is the first time I've ever had a place all of my own to decorate.
Every time I move, home comforts are the first thing I unpack; when I was a Fresher, the first thing I did on being assigned my university bedroom was to put my fairylights out (even if they were technically forbidden, oops!), and this year, I made sure to get my various memory boxes organised, eventually settling on an eclectic variety of nik-naks for my noticeboard.
Oh, and did I mention? I have a fireplace! In my bedroom. It's not fully functioning, but I did a little excited girl-squeal when I saw it, as I hadn't spotted it when we'd had our viewing.
This is a pretty brief post, but I'm currently blogging from Pret (free wifi, everywhere should have it!), and will resume normal blogging as of this weekend, as I have lots of goodies to share with you!
What's your favourite thing about your bedroom (university or home)? Any tips for moving back and forth between university and your home town? I'm currently on the lookout for lots of interior pieces, so please link me to all your favourites in the comments!
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When the Sun Sets, Baby, On the Avenue [Outfit Post}

Biker Jacket: Primark
Necklace: Forever 21 (similar here)
Bracelet: Hope Loves Johnnie
Camisole: Primark (not pictured)
Dress: H&M




























I promise myself, every year, that I am going to invest in a 'proper' biker jacket - real leather, durable, resistant, and clocking in at more than the £25 this Primark version cost me last winter - but it seems as though something more important (read: a pretty dress or a killer pair of heels) always comes along, and all thoughts of outwear go flying out the window. It's perfect for the current climate, though, so I won't start worrying until the snow starts flurrying, I suppose!

I absolutely adore this dress - I'm a sucker for lace, and the shade is perfect for the transition between the summer (or what we had of it) and autumn, and yet there's one problem; it's so short.
My solution? A £1.50 lycra vest from Primark; it probably sounds ridiculous, but honestly, if you're struggling with your hemline, these vests are the best alternative to pricey slips - they have enough stretch to them to hit the mid-thigh (on my 5ft 5 frame, at least), and mean you don't have to worry about flashing anyone.

Today is being spent rushing to IKEA for last-minute kitchen and storage supplies, grabbing some food-cupboard staples and packing boxes from Tesco, and then trying to fit my entire life into all the suitcases, boxes and 'bags for life' I can find for my move into my new house for my second year at university on Monday; everything's completely insane, as I'm sure everyone can imagine!

Ooh, before I dash off, though, I have to quickly mention the bracelet I'm wearing in today's post - it was made by my mother! She owns a small handmade jewellery & card business, and it just starting up on Etsy - it's called Hope Loves Johnnie (named after my grandparents, aww!), and honestly, I'm a little jealous that I inherited none of her creativity, so feel free to check it out! 

What's your solution for too-short hemlines?
What's the one 'wardrobe staple' you always scrimp on? Surely it's not just me who never buys appropriate winter outerwear?
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Little Discoveries: Tipawan Flowers [Greenwich Market & Online Store]

Every once in a while, I discover a new brand or online store that I love, and their products generally end up on my weekly wishlist or one of my InstaWeek posts; sometimes, though, I fall so obsessively in love with a range of products that I feel like they deserve their own post, and that's exactly what happened when I bought this gorgeous set of bracelets from Tipawan Flowers at Greenwich Market (remember, I mentioned that I was heading there last week?).
These gorgeous bangles only cost me £5 for the set, which I think is a pretty fair price for two bracelets (they come tied together with a little piece of ribbon, but can easily be separated and worn apart) - but considering their handmade, and therefore every bracelet is unique and available in a range of fabrics, I think they're well worth the mini-investment!
Whilst I really would recommend getting yourself down to Greenwich Market (I'm not being sponsored by them, promise!) to see these gorgeous creations 'in the flesh', Tipawan Flowers also have an online store, which, as the name suggests, is home to tonnes of floral beauties, including a selection of flower-shaped hair clips and rings, a few bangles, and even some bookmarks!
Which brands or small businesses do you feel deserve a turn in the spotlight?
I'm always on the look-out for more handmade businesses and Etsy/BigCartel finds, so feel free to leave link in the comments, or tweet or email them to me!
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Cookie Dough Caramel Bars [Recipe]

I know I promised my Nutella cinnamon roll recipe, and it's coming, promise! But these are just as delicious (and much cheaper, given the lack of Nutella) to make! 
I have a confession to make...I'm not much of a brownie fan. I know, I know, how is that possible, for a self-proclaimed chocolate junkie who loves baking? But there it is, the bitter truth.
Having said that, there's something oddly comforting about bar desserts - having a tray of something rich and sweet to pick at in the fridge when you're in need of perking up.
That's where these cookie dough caramel bars (otherwise known as Congo Bars) come in - think caramel-stuffed cookies meet brownie.
Think sinful.
Think delicious.
They really are far too easy to throw together; all you need are the ingredients pictured above - it's pretty much a standard cookie recipe, except with a startling increase in sugar - just under a small bag's worth. 
When it comes to chocolate, I hate using 'chips' in my baking; personally, I think huge, vulgar chunks thrown right into the dough make for much more enjoyable bites, so I always just take a sharp knife and (carefully!) chop up a regular bar of cooking chocolate. I think  Rolos have the perfect caramel : chocolate ratio, but you're more than welcome to swap out them for your favourites - Lindt and Revels are both popular choices whenever my friends are involved.
Once your chocolate's all chopped up, it's just a case of cubing some butter into the hefty amount of sugar, creaming them both together, and pouring into your dry ingredients. The mixture won't be completely smooth, but we don't need it to be. Especially not once the chocolate's added.
This is by far the best tip I've ever received when it comes to baking anything in bar form - instead of just lining your brownie tray with greaseproof paper or hand-greasing it with leftover butter, cut two thin strips of greaseproof paper, and fold them over so they form a cross-shape, as shown in the picture above; this means that your cooked dough can then just be lifted out, using the overhanging strip, once it's removed from the oven.
The dough will be slightly stickier than traditional cookie dough, but that's what you want - the goal is to get bars with a similar in consistency to slightly-chewy brownies. Crispy on the outside, but richly dense, chocolately, caramel-filled cookie bars.
These pictures don't do them justice; they're a thousand more times delicious than they look. And they look pretty good, don't they?
Cookie Dough Caramel Bars:
Makes 16 very generous bars.


Ingredients:
  • 340g flour (all-purpose)
  • 450g light brown sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (this one's the best)
  • 400g cooking chocolate (I always use dark)
  • 126g Rolos (one of those 'to share' pouches)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°, gas mark 4, and line a standard 13 x 9 inch brownie tin with two strips of greaseproof paper, over-lapping so they form a 'cross' shape (as shown in the picture above).
  2. Cube your unsalted butter into a bowl containing your brown sugar, creaming it into the sugar using the back of a wooden spoon. It should take about 3 minutes for the mixture to become pale and fluffy.
  3. Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) into the sugar and butter mixture, combining until it forms a thick, bread-like dough, then add your eggs one at a time, and your vanilla.
  4. Chop your chocolate into chunks - generally, I use the point of my knife to pierce the bar of chocolate so that it shatters into bite-sized pieces. Just make sure you're careful, always holding the knife away from you! Add the chocolate chunks and Rolos to the mixture until they're evenly distributed.
  5. Empty the dough into your brownie pan, ensuring it's evenly spread, then bake on the middle shelf for 35-45 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted into the center of the tray comes out clean.
Do let me know if you try these out - and any variations you try!
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You Were My Best Four Years [Night Out Outfit Post]

Dress: H&M
Necklace: Forever 21
Cuff: Topshop
Shoes: New Look


























 
I don't know why I always look so moody in all my outfit posts - seems to be a constant battle between looking like I'm mid-sulk or grinning like an idiot!
The title of the post comes from Taylor Swift's 'Ronan' for Stand Up to Cancer, just FYI.


I really don't have many 'proper' nights out when I'm in London; it sounds quite odd, considering it's the Big City, but since all of my friends and I have gone off to university, summers are generally spent grabbing coffee (or a couple of drinks at the pub) after everyone's finished work/summer school/sleeping for the day, and everything's always a bit last-minute, so I don't find myself donning a pretty dress and heels very often, and welcome the chance to when it comes around! I finally got to get my groove on (cringe, I don't know why I just typed that, or why I'm leaving in here) last night, and thought I'd take the rare opportunity to share a more 'evening' look.  

This dress was a complete impulse-buy from my local H&M earlier this year - it's not the kind of thing I'd normally have picked up, as it looks quite 'formal' on the rack, but it's probably one of the best purchases I've ever made - the structured cut is so forgiving that it's great to wear out for dinner, too.

As for the weird hair situation in these pictures - I always seem to spend the last few moments before a night out deciding whether to clip my hair back or wear it down, so I figured I'd share a snap of both - sharing is caring, right?

How do you like your hair, for a night of dancing? Up and out of the way, or down and wild?
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Lash Tinting; How-To & Eylure 45-Day Mascara Review

I naturally have quite fair colouring (nope, I'm not a natural brunette, in case you hadn't guessed), and my eyelashes, despite being quite long and thick (thankfully!), are almost invisible without several coats of mascara - which can be a nightmare on days where I'm just lounging around the house/studying, and don't want to waste an hour putting on my 'face', so tinting my eyelashes has been a regular feature in my beauty routine for a good few years, and Eylure's 'Dylash' 45-day mascara has been my product of choice since I first tried it, all those years ago.
It's also a great solution for anyone who swims regularly or is heading on holiday, as it's far more reliable than most waterproof mascaras, and is totally smudge-free!
I love the Dylash kit because you get pretty much everything you need, in one box; the pigment, activating solution, applicator, 'spatula' and tray for mixing, and paper-guards to place under your eyes and protect the sensitive under-eye area, and the only thing you'll need to add to the equation is some Vaseline to stop the dye from spreading, and a little warm water on a cotton pad to remove it when you're done.
The process? That's simple.
Place 2cms' worth of the pigment into the mixing tray provided, alongside 5 drops of the activation fluid, then mix together with the spatula until it reaches the above consistency (and yes, it's supposed to look slightly purple-y, don't worry!); then you simply dampen your eye guards, placing them under your eyes, and coat your upper eyelid with Vaseline. Grab your applicator, which looks just like a mascara wand, coat it in the dye, and apply as you would mascara. I do both my upper and lower lashes, and like to make sure I use all of the dye, just to be sure. Once the tinting fluid's been left on for 5-10 minutes (I always leave mine on for 10, but if your lashes are quite dark, you might not need it on for as long), simply dampen a cotton wall pad with warm water, and slowly wipe the dye away from your closed eyes...and you're done!

Although Dylash is marketed as a 45-day mascara, I've never waited more than about a month, so I can't guarantee it lasts for that amount of time, but I can verify that it's definitely still around after 30-35 days, with no serious fading. Although at £7.50, it might sound like a pricey investment, you get enough eye guards for 4 applications, although I usually get about 6 uses out of the actual dye mixture - that's at least 4-6 months' worth of product!
Eylure Dylash 45-Day Mascara is available from Boots, here, and retails for £7.50.
Have you ever tinted your eyelashes or brows? Would you be tempted to?
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Little Red Dress

Blazer: Bershka
Necklace: Forever 21
Dress: Motel
Tights: Tightsplease *
Shoes: Dorothy Perkins



















I'm completely and utterly in love with this dress at the moment; something about the ditsy floral print makes me reach for it almost automatically whenever there's even a hint of sunlight peeking through my bedroom curtains, even if those moments have been few and far between, as of late, making the blazer a bit of a necessity.

I do adore Motel's prints, although I don't wear a lot of body-con anymore, so don't invest in as many of their pieces as I have in the past, but this dress is quite a flattering one - here's hoping we'll be seeing plenty more skater dresses from them!

Anyway, I'll be parading this outfit around Greenwich Market today; I'm from South London, so most Sunday afternoons are spent strolling around the various vintage boutiques, stalls boasting homemade children's toys, jewellery and beauty products, and the old-fashioned sweet shop - with a longing gaze in the direction of the food market, which boasts churros, chow mein and gourmet coffee, of course. It's always a refreshingly laid-back way to round-off the weekend, and I do miss it whenever I'm at university.
I'd really recommend it to anyone who hasn't visited before!

Do you have a 'weekend routine'?


Pssssstttttttt! If you're thinking of buying something similar from Motel Rocks, why not use my affiliate code for 20% off? Just enter francescasophia at the check out to save!
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