Lives Change Like the Weather | Outfit

blogger francesca sophia stands against a cream wall, wearing a burgundy oversized jumper, a black body con skirt, a pair of knitted burgundy tights and black boots a close up of burgundy knitted tights, with a black bodycon skirt and black boots

Necklace: Forever 21
Jumper: New Look
Skirt: H&M
Tights: New Look
Boots: New Look

I have to say, this outfit isn't exactly the most photogenic; slouchy jumpers and coloured tights don't necessarily look great on film, but it's been one of my favourite looks in the colder months (luckily, the snow pretty much skipped Canterbury, where I'm at university, so the relatively light knit didn't cause me too much discomfort). 

As I'm sure I've mentioned at least a thousand times at On-TheBias, I'm constantly trying to force myself out of my comfort-zone, style-wise, and knitted tights are one of those purchases I've been meaning to make for what feels like years, but have never quite managed to get around to. This year, however, I took the plunge (finally!) and snagged myself a pair of both the burgundy and grey versions of these New Look offerings...and so far, I'm a little undecided, to be honest. They're definitely not the most slimming of tights, for those of us who are a little bottom-heavy, but they do add a nice pop of colour to an outfit. They're also quite an open knit, meaning they're not ideal for the cold winter months; I ended up having to throw a pair of 100D M&S tights on underneath in order to brave the cold, so the effect was lost a little. Maybe I'll reserve judgement until it's mild enough outside to wear them alone.

Have you been hit by the snow yet? If so, how are you snow-proofing your outfits?

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Maybelline Fit Me Foundation & Concealer | Review

maybelline fit me foundation and concealer side by side on a bed
Being so oddly pale (for someone from a very Mediterranean background, anyway), I often struggle to find foundations that suit my slightly warm skin tone without making me look too orange or giving me serious 'tide marks', so I'm always interested in ranges with a good selection of shades. Naturally, when I spotted a display for Maybelline's new 'Fit Me' launch in my local Boots, I couldn't resist taking a peek, and soon found myself investing in both a foundation and concealer from the selection.
maybelline fit me foundation lying on a bed alongside a real techniques buffing brush
I settled on shade 115 from the range, which, according to the 'Fit Me' website, is the palest option for pink-toned skin (although, personally, I think it looks more yellow-based, so I'd recommend heading into a store before investing), and fell in love from the second I applied it. I'm a huge believer in keeping foundation light, and relying on concealer to do all the extra work, and there's no doubt that Maybelline 'Fit Me' definitely has a very light-medium coverage, especially when applied with the Real Techniques buffing brush, creating a very natural base, for anyone lucky enough not to need concealer. A little product goes a long way, too, with two pumps of foundation being more than enough to cover my whole face and neck in a soft, light base, although it does need a liberal dusting of face powder, with a slightly-less-than-matte finish. 
maybelline fit me concealer lying next to a real techniques concealer brush
Each foundation in the range has a corresponding concealer (as well as a face powder and blusher, if you're looking for a serious beauty overhaul), and shade 15 is mine. Although I, like most beauty bloggers I know, have been seriously infatuated with Collection's 'Lasting Perfection' concealer for over a year, the seriously limited selection of shades has always been a problem for me (I've been mixing shades 1 & 2 together for what feels like a life time), and it's never been a perfect match. Since discovering 'Fit Me', however, this problem no longer exists, and concealed patches look much less obvious. The coverage isn't quite as heavy as 'Lasting Perfection', I have to admit, but it's very buildable, and using Real Techniques' detailing brush to apply the necessary amount of product creates a virtually flawless base, even on those pesky imperfections.
maybelline fit me foundation and concealer side by side on a bed next to real technique buffing and concealer brushes
Overall, I am incredibly impressed with the Maybelline 'Fit Me' range; although my skin is far from perfect, this combination of foundation and concealer has got me having the most flawless complexion I've had in years, and without looking like a satsuma. Both products also have serious staying power, and last throughout the day with very little need for touch-ups, making them firm favourites in my make-up bag.

I'd seriously recommend these products for anyone who has trouble finding shades to suit their skin tone (especially any other pale ladies!); you can find your perfect 'Fit Me' shade on the Maybelline website.
Maybelline Fit Me Foundation retails at £7.99 and can be purchased at Boots, or online; Maybelline Fit Me Concealer retails at £5.99 at Boots stores and online.
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Spicy Tomato & Rice Tagine | Low Calorie + Vegetarian Recipe

I am forever on the look-out for new vegetarian-friendly recipes. I'm pescetarian, and could happily eat seafood and fish at every meal, but living on a student budget means that's not always a possibility.

I actually tried this particular recipe, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, when I was still a fan of poultry and loved it, but upon rooting through my old recipe box a couple of days ago, I decided it was high time to experiment, with the goal of creating something Quorn-friendly (that's the brand name of my favourite meat replacement product, just in case anyone isn't familiar with the line).
The result was this recipe, which I'm hoping you'll all try, love, and make for all your vegetarian (or open-minded meat eater) friends - but do feel free to throw chicken, beef or pork into the mix instead.
For this recipe, feel free to use a casserole dish (as long as it's stove-friendly & has a lid!), but this is my weapon of choice - a tagine which happens to be the one item I own which used to belong to my grandmother. A bit of a cliche, but a nice one, I think.
The first step is easy - just a case of browning a tray of 'chicken-style pieces' in the base of your tagine. I'm not being lazy by doing it all in one pot (although I won't pretend I miss the extra washing up!), but, once your pieces are browned, they're going to be removed, and stock is going to be swirled around the base of your tagine - this will pick up all the leftover Quorn flavour, and will create a nice deep flavour without the need for a meat-based stock.
From there, the process is pretty quick; throwing in some chopped & whole tinned tomatoes, alongside some little flavour enhancers - some crushed garlic, salt & pepper, chilli flakes, whichever herbs you can get your hands on - and then you simply have to place the lid on your tagine, and pretty much forget about it for 40 minutes. No, really. That's when the magic happens.
 See how lovely and thick it gets? How well the Quorn absorbs all that flavour? Doesn't it look delicious? Does it get any better than that? Well...yes. Because then, we add some simple, no-fuss, microwave rice. Carbs make everything better, right?
Especially when we pop them back in the oven for 10 minutes.
That's when this happens.
Mmmm. You should probably go and make this.
Spicy Tomato & Rice Tagine:
Serves 4.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pack (350g) Quorn chicken-style pieces
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 tin peeled plum tomatoes (400g)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes (I like it hot, but if you don't omit this)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 pack microwave rice
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°, gas mark 6; in a jug, add 250ml of boiling water to your stock cube, mixing until smooth.
  2. Spray your tagine lightly with oil, then place on the hob, adding your meat-free pieces when the oil has heated slightly. Allow the pieces to brown on a medium heat, which should take about 3-5 minutes. 
  3. Remove your Quorn from the tagine, placing them to one side; pour the vegetable stock into the now-empty tagine, turning the heat down quite low. Use tongs or a spatula to scrape any leftover pieces from the edges of the tagine, mixing them into the stock. Allow to reduce for about 5 minutes.
  4. Whilst the stock is reducing, chop or crush your garlic cloves, emptying them into the stock mixture once it's reduced, alongside your chopped and peeled tomatoes. Turn your heat up high, allowing the tomatoes to heat through for 3-5 minutes, then season to taste with your chilli, salt, pepper, and any herbs you'd like to use (basil's best!).
  5. Carefully empty your meat substitute pieces into the tomato mixture, then place the lid on your tagine, and place in the middle shelf of your oven for 30-40 minutes, until thick. 
  6. When you're happy the tagine mix is a good texture, cook your microwave rice according to the instructions (generally 2 minutes in a 750W microwave), then spoon the rice over the top of the tagine mixture, but do not mix. Place the lid back onto the tagine and put it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until the rice is just starting to lose some of its moisture.
  7. Once you're happy with the rice, take a large metal spoon and pierce through the baked rice top, scooping up both the tomato mixture and rice. Serve it messily on the plate, because it's a  home-cooked labour of love, and should look it.
What are your favourite meat-free recipes? Do you ever feel tempted to take an old recipe and recreate it?
This recipe contains 332 calories per serving, including the rice mentioned above.
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Dust on Every Page | Outfit

Necklace: Tom Binns x Disney Couture
Tee: ASOS
Skirt: H&M
Bracelet: Tiffany & Co.
Boots: New Look

Am I the only one who's struck, once in a while, with a gripping urge to go a little…dark?
I'll wake up, greeted by grey skies and bitter winds, and instinctually reach for matching shades in the depths of my wardrobe.
I'd like to think of it as a nod to my inner rebel; growing up with parents who loathed my dressing in anything 'too dark', I find myself craving murky palettes, especially in the height of winter.

I have to admit, though, this outfit is, to me, all about the jewellery; part of the Tom Binns x Disney Couture collection for the release of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, this necklace is one of my favourites, and my fairly commonplace Tiffany & Co. bracelet was a present for my 18th birthday a few years ago, so any excuse to wear it suits me just fine.


My 'Christmas break' from university feels like it's ending much too soon, and I'm already making plans to move myself back to Kent in a weeks' time - between family-filled dinners, catching up with old friends, and attempting to get a head start on one or two university assignments, I don't really feel as though I've had much time at off at all, and sleeping for the next few weeks seems much more appealing than heading back to lectures about child development and the social psychology of groups (I'm a psychology student, if I hadn't complained about it mentioned it enough).

Is anyone else feeling a little worn out, at the end of the Christmas season?
Have you settled back into your 'real-life' routine yet?
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