Italy Trip

HewittHello, as some of you might know (because I’ve been rambling on it about it for months!) I’m heading to Italy next month. Whoohoo! Sorry, I just had to get it out there as I am so excited. Italy has been on my list forever! We’ll be visiting Rome, Florence and Siena. So if any of you guys have got some tips, must-visits or just simply amazing places we have to see please leave me a comment. It is our first time in Italy and we’d really love to see more than just what you’d find in a travel guide. I’m already preparing for all the amazing pizza and gelato, so if you’ve got a favourite place you can recommend please do so. I am also looking to narrow down the best food markets and shopping districts. I hope to bring back many beautiful photographs to share with you guys. :)

 

DIY Sequin Tote

DIY Sequin Chanel ToteHello everyone! I recently realized that I had this gaping hole in my life that only a massive canvas tote could fill.  Unfortunately it proved quite impossible to find one with a zip so I decided to make one. If you’ve got access to a sewing machine (or consider yourself one), this is really easy and very affordable. You can even customize it!

DIY Sequin Chanel ToteWhat you need:

  • 1/2 m thick cotton like canvas in cream/white
  • measure tape
  • scissors
  • 35 cm zip
  • 1 m stringed sequins
  • Fabric or Bostic Glue
  • pencil

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Steps:

  1. The first step is to measure and cut out all the pieces. I like using a pencil and measure tape for this. Measure out a 1 m by 38 cm piece for the bag’s body and cut. Check weather your fabric frays as you might have to zig-zag it to keep it from unraveling.
  2. Down the length of your fabric cut two pieces for straps. I wanted mine quite thick and long so I cut two pieces about 80 cm long and 12 cm wide.
  3. As I wanted a pocket on the inside, I used a contrasting stripy fabric swatch of about 20 x 10 cm.
  4. Start by folding over what will be the opening of the bag and sew neatly in place.
  5. If you want to create a side pocket in the bag as I did, you’d have to sew a small piece of fabric (20 x 10 cm) about 8 cm below one of the fold. This will be the back of your bag as the sewing will be slightly visible, but if you carefully match your thread to your fabric this will be barely noticeable. I chose to sew mine simply down the sides and below and then again in the middle, creating two smaller pockets.
  6. The next step is to sew the sides of the bag together. Once this is done, you can flip the top over once more (about 5 cm) and sew about 2,5 cm in leaving a small flap on the inside. This is where you’ll sew in the zip.
  7. I also wanted to box out the bottom of my bag, which was way easier than I imagined even though it is the hardest thing to describe! I struggled to follow others tips as I had used one large piece of fabric instead of two pieces for the body. The simplest way is to flip the bag inside out and draw a pencil line where the bottom of the bag’s fold is. Then take the corners between your fingers and flip them open aligning the side seam with the pencil line on the bottom of the bag, creating a triangle. I hope this kinda makes sense! See here for a pictorial guide. Then you’ll sew the triangle in place and do the same on the other side, taking care to make the two triangles the same size.
  8. The next step is to take your straps, fold them in three and sew it in place. Next you’ll attach it to the bag. Take care to only sew it onto the 2,5 cm you left above the zip. I chose to sew it on the outside and used a square with a cross in it. This is a pretty secure way to sew the strap on so that it can take heavy loads.
  9. BAG done! Phew! Take a breather and decide on which words you want to write on your bag. I liked playing with it and draping a few words onto it to get a rough idea of how it would look and whether it would fit. I finally decided on Chanel, but cities like Paris and Rome and French Words like Merci or even Meow could also have worked.
  10. Once you’ve chosen your word, write it in pencil and then place glue over it and press the sequins in place. I cut a few pieces to avoid having to go over the same line twice, which made it easier to read.
  11. Voila! You’re completely done! If you had any trouble following my steps, please ask and I will clarify. :)

Stripes and Sequins

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Hello everyone!

I’m so excited as summer is definitely starting to bloom! We’ve tried to take advantage of the great weather we’ve been having by spending as much time outdoors as possible. I always love days spent in the city and usually can’t resist a pit-stop at the Company Gardens. The outfit I reach for most often when the sun comes out is usually some kind of striped top and jeans. I think I’m pretty much sorted if I want to wear a variation of this every day of the week (pfff…not that I’d really consider doing that…) On this particular occasion I decided to throw on a diamante necklace which makes quite a statement against the sequins on the top, which was a DIY job. Funny how I knew that it was a successful DIY when my brother commented that it looked it like someone had messed a bit of sequins on it…

Hope you enjoy this outfit!DSC_3965 DSC_3957DSC_3959DSC_4056

One Lovely Blog Award

one-blog-lovely-awardHi there,

I was nominated for a One Lovely Blog Award by Tori from the beautiful site Halfway Amazing. I’d like to thank her for the nomination, I really appreciate it! There are a few rules attached to this award to help spreads the love over the blogosphere so here goes:

Rules for winning this award are very simple, here they are:

1. Thank the person who has nominated you. Provide a link to his/her blog.

2 List the rules and display the award pic.

3. Include 7 facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know that they have been nominated.

5. Display the award logo and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Facts about me (lets make them random!):

1. I am going camping for the first time ever tomorrow.

2. I only started drinking coffee in my twenties!

3. My favourite magazine is Harper’s Bazaar.

4. I would love to explore the whole of Europe.

5. I almost exclusively wear fruity-floral scents – current favourite is Joe Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede

6. The combination of chocolate and nuts is the best.

7. I love Cape Town!

Bloggers I nominate:

1. My college friend Crisna from Nunkilief – She makes some of the best clothes!

2. Lexa S. from ModelJourney – A very beautiful model who shares her beauty tips and travels.

3. Eveline from Fashion Food and Flirts – For the latest Red Carpet and Runway looks and obviously her Baking with Booze series! Seriously, I wish I was gutsy enough to make YouTube Vids.

4. Fashion Follows Her – For beautiful photography and clothes!

5. Maison Bently Style – This is my favourite blog when I need a little inspiration.

I know the rules require you to list 15, but these are the 5 bloggers I look forward to reading every day so they deserve special honour! So ladies, time to get cracking on your lists! I apologize for the lovely ladies whose names I can’t remember, but I regard you all as long-distance friends (who’ve never met)!

I’ll also take this opportunity to thank my readers! Shopgirl is nearing its 2nd birthday and even though I’ve kept it relatively small, I’d still like to let everyone know I appreciate all the comments, likes and followers. They’ve clearly got good taste ;)

Much love, Astrid

September Inspiration

Happy first day of Spring!

I went jogging yesterday and the change of the seasons has never been more apparent. The sun was beating on my back but in the distance I could see some snow left on the mountain peaks. I am glad summer is finally on its way!

Whilst there is no way for me to wish away another cold front, I do plan on indulging in some summer traditions like a fun manicure and over-wearing my stripes.

I also want to find the perfect shirt-dress and somehow master the cat eye, any and all tips welcome! If the amazing weather we’ve had this weekend holds up, a trip to the beach would definitely be on the cards.

Lastly I’ve found this really cute DIY bow bracelet on A Pair, A Spare and couldn’t resist sharing. I have no idea where I am going to find a gold bow, but it is so pretty that there was no way I could keep it to myself.

I hope you enjoy the first month of spring! For all my Northerners, keep warm this autumn with loads of hot choc, I might join you when the next cold front hits.

Much love,

Astrid

Best Dressed: Emmys 2014

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I almost can’t believe that it was already a year ago that I did my last Emmy’s roundup – well almost, as this year’s ceremony was held a month earlier than usual. Some of my favourite actors and actresses were in attendance, amongst them Mindy Kahling (The Mindy Project), Claire Danes (Homeland) and Zooey Deschanel (New Girl). Rounding up the best dressed of the evening (in my humble opinion) wasn’t easy as I don’t think there is one look that truly stood out, but nevertheless here goes!

1. Allison Williams in Giambattista Valli Couture

I love a good princess moment, so this was surprisingly easy to decide on. I love how unexpected the punch of yellow is and obviously the cutesy bow detail. Keeping her accessories minimal was a good call, I just think a brighter lip would have been even prettier.

2. Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier

I love this modern equivalent of Julia Robert’s iconic Valentino monochrome look. It struck the perfect balance between opulence and minimalism. The deep side part was pure genius on Lizzy’s part!

3. Julliane Hough in DSquared 

All white can easily look bridal, but this elegant and simple look keeps it looking sleek along with Juliane’s laid back style and attitude. White and a great tan is unbeatable.

4. Heidi Klum in Zac Posen

She rarely dresses age appropriate, but this goes to show what is a great colour and good fit can do for you. The dress really makes the best of her figure without looking too garish or sexy. I wish she’d dress like this more often.

5. Kaley Cuoco in Monique Lhullier

Come on, tulle, a-line and my favourite colour combination (pink&red) all in one? Love! Kaley’s new edgier hairstyle adds some edge to an expected look for her and I love it.

6. Behati Prinsloo in Prada

I love how this Prada dress reminds me of my dancing days yet is elegant and understated. The sweeping train adds just the right amount of drama to this low-key look. Best pony of evening as well!

7. Julia Roberts in Elie Saab

Breaking all the ‘age-appropriate’ rules is Julia Roberts in a low-cut mini. On book it doesn’t sound like something I’d like, but on her it just looks amazing. The large embellishments make it more playful than sexy and the hemline hits just on the sweet spot.

8.  Michelle Monaghan in Giambattista Valli Couture

Another beauty in white! It is very evident that red and white were the dominant colours of the evening. I’d like to start off with a note on how beautiful her hair was styled and finish by saying that her minimalist approach beats the runway cape look by miles! White and gold is always a winner, even if you don’t get to deliver your speech!

9. Halle Berry in Elie Saab

Another actress who usually treads the line between sexy and inappropriate. This look is firmly on the sexy side with the perfect slit and a modern grecian-goddess look.

10. Julie Bowen in Peter Som

I wouldn’t say this look is exactly the most memorable, but I felt it deserved a spot as Julie looked very pretty. The soft side-swept waves do it for her! I also like the halterneck and pleated skirt combination to make the best of her svelte frame. Add to that a fun print and I’m sold!

Which were some of your favourite looks of the evening?

My Go to Look: Stripes & Jeans

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Style is such a personal representation of a person. It is something I am realising more and more as I meet more people.

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I guess everyone has a looks or style that will always draw their attention. I know someone who has more blue shirts than she knows what to do with. My bane however is jeans and striped t-shirts. So much so that even my brother has noticed my partiality to the look and that this collection is outdated. Since I took these pictures I’ve added another delightful striped T from Edgars and scored a great fitting pair of jeans at the Witchery sale (and you know how rare that is!).

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I love how versatile they are, how a great fitting pair can make me feel and how it strikes a balance between classic and modern. Do you have something that you are always drawn towards or own way too much of?

Choc-Caramel Shortbread Recipe

chocolate caramel shortbread biscuits

I love a good tea-time biscuit and this one is particularly decadent. There isn’t much I can say about the taste other than WOW! Imagine a good shortbread biscuit enrobed in chocolate meeting a delicious helping of fudgy-caramel. ‘Nuff said!

I wouldn’t say it is ideal for everyday simply because of the butter and sugar content, but boy I wouldn’t mind having it on the daily otherwise! Whilst only twelve biscuits does sound like very little, I can promise that you only need one at a time to satisfy even the most severe sweet tooth (which would be me!). This would be ideal for a high-tea or when you simply want to treat yourself.

DSC_0128Ingredients:

Biscuit:

  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 160 g castor sugar
  • 300 g flour
  • 150 g cornflour
  • 300 g chocolate, melted

Caramel:

  • 1 x 385 g tin condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 60 g butter

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Method:

To make the shortbread:

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Fold in the flour and cornflour and roll into a 6 cm sausage.
  3. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Here you can learn from my mistake. Be patient or you won’t get perfectly round biscuits!
  4. Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
  5. Slice the sausage into 4 mm-thick slices and place slices on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 – 15 min and set aside to cool.

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Caramel:

  1. In a medium, thick bottomed pot simmer the condensed milk, syrup and butter gently for about 5 min or caramel coloured. Remember to stir all the time.

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Assembly:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl and dip each biscuit halfway in the chocolate before placing on a tray to set.
  2. Once set, sandwich two together with the caramel and enjoy.

Makes roughly 12 biscuits.

My Beauty Routine

DSC_3897I’ve been promising to tell you about my skin care philosophy and routine for quite some time now, so it is long overdue, but here it is at last! I follow a very basic skincare routine and my philosophy is quite simple.

I believe that when you properly take care of your skin, you’ll reap the rewards in years to come and you can also get away with a little less makeup which is always a bonus. Saying that, quality beauty products don’t have to cost a fortune you just have to know your skin and find what suits you. I don’t yet have any major problems apart from dryness/sensitivity but I know that what I am doing now is an investment in my future, at least my skin’s future.

I did have slightly problematic skin in my very early teen years so my mother introduced me to Clinique’s three-step program which resolved all of those issues. Surprisingly I started with combination skin, which gradually got drier until eventually my beloved Dramatically Different wasn’t enough. I have since completely changed my routine, to be more budget friendly and to better suit my needs.

I use a Dove sensitive soap (not pictured) to wash my face after I’ve removed the bulk of my makeup. I scrub my face twice to three times a week with my Dirty Works scrub and usually follow that with a Moisture Glow. In the evening I use a Rose Water and Hazelwitch spray as a gentle astringent.

In the summer I use a Neutrogena oil-free moisturiser with sunblock and in the winter and evening I use Nivea Soft which is high in Jojoba and Vitamin E oil. I’ll still sometimes use a little DD cream under my makeup as it just feels great, but I won’t be repurchasing it.

The only problem I currently face is finding a quality eye cream on a budget. I’m close to finishing my Estee Lauder free gift and I’ve been spoiled. So if you’ve got any suggestions, please send through!

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Finally, last but not least is my hero product! It is the Vitamin E Face Oil from the Body Shop. I know that this has recently been replaced with the Serum-in-oil which sounds great, but I managed to score this baby for about R10 (yes it is a bargain!) with a few Clicks vouchers and a sale. This really leaves my skin feeling soft, plump and moisturised. And I don’t know if I am imagining it but my pores even look smaller! It doesn’t feel greasy at all and is easily absorbed in seconds. I just warm a few drops in the palms of my hands and then gently massage it into my face and neck avoiding the eye area. Occasionally I’ll finish with a little 8 Hour Cream on my cheakbones/eye area and that is skincare done!

Have you got any other tips for me?

Rock and Roll Basics

DSC_3612I have always been a relatively ‘safe’ dresser who feels most comfortable in jeans and flat shoes. When people hear that my favourite music genre is Metal they usually struggle to believe so as I don’t conform to their idea of what a metal fan looks like. These pants however might make it slightly more believable, or so I’d like to think. They aren’t something I’d normally gravitate towards and certainly don’t feel ‘safe’ for a conservative dresser like me, but it is kind of what I like about them. That and the great fit of course.  Paired with more feminine neutrals, I simply love the edge this adds to any look.DSC_3611 DSC_3590 DSC_3605