Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Back To Work Try Before You Buy Shopping Spree!

I have the will power of an ant! I went for a wee try before you buy session with the mind to make one purchase from my back to work wish list & ended up purchasing 3 of the tops I had listed. I am now however more than satisfied with what I have leading up to the Summer months. 

My first stop was New Look & I have to say I found some gorgeous items in there that I would of snapped up in an instant had the bank balance allowed!

I went straight for the jumper section & found the mint green one I had my eye on & a cream one in similar style. 

The mint green got the thumbs up! This is a size 8 which I am most definitely not but the fit & shape sat well.

Mint Green Contrast Sleeve Diamond Stitch Raglan Jumper £10

The cream got the thumbs down! It was a size 10 & just didn't suit me at all. Its a bit thicker than the green one & it reminded me something a fisherman would wear! 

I then went straight for the boxy textured tops that I had spotted a few weeks back & opted to try the pink & blue ones on. Both are size 12.

Pink Key Hole Back Textured Boxy Top £12.99

I was surprised to like the pink much more than the blue! The blue one was faulty as the elastic loop at the back that hooks over the button had come loose from the stitching & so I couldn't do it up & it was the only size 12 they had. I asked the girl in the changing room which colour she preferred on me & even she said the pink which surprised me as baby blue is a colour I'm supposed to be able to wear. Maybe its just this shade of blue that didn't work on me.

Light Blue Keyhole Back Textured Boxy Top £12.99

I am totally in love with this black crochet jacket & the pictures don't do it any justice at all! It was fully lined & just felt like the perfect black jacket for Spring. At £27.99 its not too pricey either & also comes in cream which I would also like to try.

Black 3/4 Sleeve Crochet Blazer £27.99
The jeans you can see hanging up were hideous! I've packed on a pound or 2 since stopping work & there is no way in hell I'm showing you all pictures of me squeezed into super skinny jeans! :/ 

I'm also totally in love with these black slim leg joggers. They fitted like a glove & were so comfy. These are definitely on my wish list & would be a perfect light trouser purchase for the warmer Spring days. Again the photo doesn't really do them justice but I shall be dreaming of these for weeks!

Inspire Black Twill Slim Leg Joggers £17.99
I moved onto H&M to investigate the striped tops. I couldn't find the vests & dipped hem top I blogged about here but came across this gorgeous Breton with brass coloured buttons on the shoulders & wrists for £12.99. I can't find it on-line but this is a medium & although the sleeves are a little long I really liked it & felt comfortable in it & it was exactly what I had been looking for.

H&M Striped Top With Brass Button Trim £12.99

So did you guess what made the cut & came home with me?!

The pink top, mint green jumper, the striped top & a set of bracelets from New Look!

Have you fulfilled your Spring wish list yet?!


Saturday, 12 April 2014

Back To Work & Topless!

Calm down! Calm down! I'm not starting a career as a glamour model! Well not at this age that's for sure! I've missed the boat by 20 years but lets not even go there! 

Clearly that title is referring to the lack of tops in my wardrobe suitable for the workplace. Not entirely true but not a total lie either! I have a few lovely sheer blouses to wear & a few smart short/mid sleeve tops but as its coming up to Spring/Summer I will definitely be needing some smart-ish tops to wear when the weather warms up.

Being a Mum & needing clothes for work I need to get some that can kind of double up as work & play clothes as seeing as the budget is tight I don't want to waste money on things that will only get worn a few hours a day in the office & as I said I do already have some smart pieces that are getting hardly any wear on the school run.

Shell tops are big this season, as are florals & of course you can't go wrong with stripes at any time of the year.

My Next navy biker trousers that I bagged in the sale recently finally arrived in store & were collected yesterday. I thought I'd start by looking for a nice Breton to go with them. Finding a navy & white one within my budget has proved quite a task & I've been all over the net looking the last few days.

Boden have this sweatshirt on sale at the moment for £27.30. Its perfect for the cooler Spring days but probably a little too thick for an office environment. Having said that it would go with so much & would definitely double up as weekend wear too. I'm thinking it will be perfect with my navy bikers & some pointed flats.

Boden Stripy Sweatshirt £27.30

Next up this one from H&M. It might just be me & my forty year old eyes but I can't quite make out the colour of the stripes! I've found this with a few retailers, they just label the tops 'striped' but don't actually say what colour the stripes are?! A bargain at £9.99 & would look great for work with a bright statement necklace as well as kicking around at the weekend with a pair of boyfriend jeans.

H&M Striped Jersey Top £9.99

Now before you think I've gone completely mad in listing these vest tops I do think they would be great or the striped in particular to wear under jackets. For £7.99 for the 2 you could easily dress them up under a smart jacket & then slouch in them on weekends. Double whammy & one happy thrifty Mama! I did say previously that I'm not looking to enter a corporate environment again & so could easily get away with this type of top as long as I keep my pasty white bingo wings under wraps!

H&M 2 Pack Vest Tops £7.99

I've seen this Dorothy Perkins daisy print shell top in store & it really is very pretty & hits 2 trends in one! I just love the cheerful print!

Dorothy Perkins Daisy Print Shell Top £20
I was keeping my colours in mind when choosing this aubergine coloured shell top from Next. Another great versatile top as I also had my white skinny jeans in mind too with tan accessories for a smart casual look.

Next Embroidered Organza Shell Top £16
This is one of the tops I spotted in New Look recently. The texture was lovely & the boxy shape would be very flattering & hide a multitude of sins. Its also available in black, cream & baby pink & I'd certainly find a home for them all in my wardrobe.

Key Hole Back Textured Boxy Top £12.99

A few lightweight jumpers wouldn't go a miss either! I saw a girl wearing a pastel green one whilst out with the kids the other day & she looked lovely & very spring like! She was wearing it with a long white vest underneath, jeans & white converse. It would work just as well with a white shirt underneath or on its own with a tube skirt & statement necklace.

I've just found this gem on New Look reduced to just £10 & I'm seriously tempted! It comes in a whole host of spring pastel colours & the light blue may actually suit me better but I am loving the pastel green.

New Look Contrast Sleeve Diamond Stitch Raglan Jumper £10
Still with my new navy bikers in mind I came across this jumper in Next whilst collecting them. It looked fab in store & would also be so useful & double up as weekend wear with boyf jeans once again. 

Next White Textured Knit Sweater £28

That's just a teeny selection of tops that I'd like & would work well with the rest of my wardrobe & double up for work & play.

Blogging for the last year has done wonders for my wardrobe & bank balance to be honest as these days I really think about what I'm buying. My wardrobe used to be full of impulse purchases & I never gave much thought about the cost or wearability of it all. These days with a tighter budget & smaller storage space its all about being practical & thinking the purchases through & I'm a much better off for it!

I know you all have a Spring wish list as long as your arms too? So, come on, whats on yours?!


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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Universal Sisterhood!

After our disastrous start to the year things slowly seem to be turning in our favour. As with most of the difficult times in my life I've always thought of the people worse off than me but I have been pretty stressed in recent months with all the troubles & strains that life just seemed to get in the way with life! Even my Hubby made a comment recently at how disorganised I'd become! I stood there in shock as back in the day super organised & efficient were two words that described me to a tee & it even still says that on my CV! The sad thing was that he was right! When I was working life seemed to work much better as there had to be a routine & life ran pretty smooth but in the last 2 months of being unemployed has seen all sorts of disasters! Panics in the mornings realising that the kids schools shirts hadn't been ironed, there wasn't anything suitable in the fridge to make my sons packed lunch with, sniffing the kids at night to see if they could do without a bath that day & then sniffing them the next night wondering the same.......all serious major Mum fails! 

Now, we all know that being a women in modern day is truly difficult as we have so many balls to juggle & plates to spin. Hats off to the full time working Mamas out there who really are real life Superwomen! Whether we're unhappy with our weight, looks, relationships its all so much harder without a good support network & especially so when other women are dragging you down too! I loathe women who hate on other women & truly believe that we are a universal sisterhood that should support & build one another up not tear each other down!

So, whilst I'm feeling at a total loss & clinging onto life by the fingernails, 3 amazing posts by 3 amazing bloggers came my way that inspired me no end to kick myself up the butt & get myself back on track.

I had to share them with you all & Marlene, Alison & Agi have very kindly given me permission to do just that.

After all of my Mum fails I knew I needed to kick butt with my daily routine & some serious structure was needed. As if by magic Alison from Get Your Pretty On posted this post detailing an average day of hers & I knew instantly that I could do better than I was! Since reading this I now give myself a 'power half hour' in the mornings which gives me time to do a multitude of things before the youngling's wake up & it has made such a difference to my days. I'm building up to the full hour Alison, honest! ;)

Alison @ Get Your Pretty On - A Typical Day

Next up, Marlene from Chocolate, Cookies & Candies did this amazing post called Women & Our Self Image based on a meet up by a few blogging friends recently. I was very kindly invited to go but unfortunately with a very expensive car repair due there was no way it was viable for me to head up to London to meet all these amazing ladies. Just as well as they managed to sink 8 magnums of Prosecco in that one afternoon! Needless to say I plan to make the next meet up & look forward to meeting all of these inspirational women.

Marlene @ Chocolate, Cookies & Candies - Women And Our Self Image

Agi from Vodka Infused Lemonade posted a no make up selfie before the no make up selfies in support of Cancer Research went completely viral & I just thought 'wow'! She looked so beautiful, clean, fresh & pure! Such a brave thing to do & she was, like Marlene, sending out a message to other women about self image & the negativity we pass on regarding it without actually realising.

Agi @ Vodka Infused Lemonade - I Am Beautiful

To read their posts please click on the link under their photographs & I hope you find them as inspiring as I have.

I would like to say a big thank you to all 3 of these amazing women for writing & posting these amazing stories & for giving me permission to share them with you all.

Do you know of any other inspiring reads, blogs or books that you know of that spring to mind after reading these?! Please share if you do!


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

ISABI The Ultimate Jean Review

Isabi recently contacted my blogging friend Frances over at School Run Style to see if she would be interested in reviewing a pair of their Ultimate Jeans. Unfortunately, the ones they sent were too big for Frances & her petite frame & so they very kindly permitted Frances to forward them onto me.

I was thrilled to say the least & when they arrived I was very relieved to find that not only do they fit me perfectly but they were also great quality.

Isabi was founded in 2013 by Jane Robson & Christina Levy who have worked within the global fashion industry for years - designing, sourcing & buying for many well known retailers.

The entire Isabi collection is based around the concept of 'intelligent dressing' - the idea of combining flattering fits & pieces which can be easily layered & mixed together.

Using extensive research into what makes the perfect fitting jeans the Ultimate Jeans claim to offer a design that flatters women of all shapes with supreme comfort & support. 

The Ultimate Jean in Black £65

The jeans are also available in navy, white & plum in sizes 10 - 20. They are 94% cotton & 6% elastane which explains the quality, stretch & softness. 

I'm wearing the black Ultimate Jeans in size 10. I have to say that after bombing around town this morning with my youngling's they are super comfortable & not at all restricting like some jeans. They really do feel like a second skin & will come in super useful for my plans to return to work as well as days like today when comfort is key.
Isabi Ultimate Black Jeans - £65
Cream Lace Tee - BHS, SS13
Denim Bomber Jacket - Levis, as old as the hills!
Leopard Print Skater Shoes - M&S, SS14
Spotty Black Leather Bag - Atelier, as old as the hills!
Gold & Pearl Necklace - My Grandmothers

Isabi not only do these amazing jeans they also have a fantastic range of jersey separates, luxurious knitwear, dresses, statement tops & accessories.

Thank you to Isabi & Frances for these sending me these lovely jeans.


Friday, 4 April 2014

Happy 1st Anniversary!

Cous Cous & Cork Wedges is one year old today! 

I can't quite believe it & had no idea when I started out if anyone would even read it let alone it moving onwards like it has! The last year has been so much fun! I've 'met' some amazing new friends & like minded people & I'm enjoying every minute! 

I love sharing a bit of life & fun but my main aim is to show other women/mamas like myself that you can look good on a budget. Like most women I love clothes & making the effort to look nice every day. If the budget was bigger my wardrobe would be that's for sure!

I would like to say a special thank you to 2 wonderful blogging friends, Avril from School Gate Style & Natalie from Natalie Dressed. They both helped & encouraged me loads in the early days & still continue to encourage & inspire me.

Also a huge thank you to all my friends, family & followers for all of your kind comments, encouragement & continued support. It means the world to me that there are people out there who actually read & enjoy the content & I hope to keep on evolving & growing the blog in every way possible!

Andrea xx

Sunday, 30 March 2014

What I Wore: On Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all you British Mamas out there! 

The only down side to today was that the clocks went forward this morning meaning that we lost an hour! Isn't that just typical on the one official day of the year that us Mamas get to stay in bed & be pampered by our broods! 

My darling youngling's made me these at school/nursery on Friday. They brought a tear to my eye as its my 1st UK Mothers Day this year & so my first ever cards from my babies! 

My dear Dad booked us all a table at Eatto, a fantastic local international buffet restaurant that specialises in Asian food. The food, setting & company were just faultless. There was sushi, the usual starter & main bars, more desserts than you could shake a stick at including a chocolate fountain & even a Teppanyaki bar! I've never seen Hubby so happy as he munched his way through every kind of seafood imaginable! Mama, on the other hand, was more than happy with her Mojito! 

I've had my eye on these 2 gorgeous outfits on Pinterest for a while & I just love the pattern mix of leopard print & tartan! I also love how cool the girl on the right looks with her khaki jacket just slightly dressing down her outfit perfectly.

Source: Pinterest
It was just too warm for my tartan scarf today so I added a cream & gold statement necklace instead. Here's my take on the above & looking no where as cool as those two beauties!

Leopard Print Shoes - M&S Sale SS13 £9
Black Jeggings - M&S £22.50
Cream Top - New Look Sale SS11 £5
Cream Vest - New Look AW13 £5
Necklace - Strass Tunisia SS13
Bracelets - New Look & Strass Tunisia
Bag - Zara Sale AW13 £30
I'm not so happy with my choice to use my tan Zara bag after seeing the pics & it seemed to work better when trying on at home! Maybe is just the light that's not so good but hey ho there's always something with us girls huh?! I also wish I had tried rolling the sleeves up too which were creased from driving to the restaurant! I know....Mothers Day....& as usual we were waiting on Daddy to sort out his 'fro which meant Mama had to get the kids into the car & beep like a loon to get Daddy to hurry up!

Here are the 2 little stinkers that make celebrating today possible! Days & moments like this make it all worth while & I am truly blessed to be their Mama!

Now its time to get organised for the week ahead which is the last week of school before the Easter holidays start next Friday. Two weeks off! We are going to London next weekend & I can't wait to catch up with our friends & family up there in the big smoke!

I hope all you British Mamas have had a day as lovely as I have?! 


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Friday, 28 March 2014

What I wore: To An Interview!

On Wednesday I had an interview. Don't you just hate how even though you are more than capable of doing the job you've applied for, your nerves & self doubt kick in & you get that feeling of panic that sets in before you go?! I don't know why I'm so hard on myself sometimes! We all are I guess!

Well, I think it went well but you can never tell can you! I will hear in a day or 2 so keep all bits crossed for me won't you?!

I've always been a believer of being yourself in these situations & that includes the way you dress. You can't sell yourself if you're uncomfortable in what your wearing or your personality is hiding under a stiff suit.

So, I opted to be smart, yet comfortable & I allowed a bit of me to come through by opting for my leopard print pumps as opposed to my plain black court shoes.

I wore my camel coloured blazer & leopard print scarf over the top which looked perfect, smart & stylish.

Blouse - New Look Sale £7 AW13
Black Jeggings - Marks & Spencer £22.50
Leopard Print Shoes - Marks & Spencer Sale £9 AW13
Bubble Heart Necklace - Tiffany's

Leopard Print Belt - M&S Sale £10
Navy Snood - River Island £10

I also wore this leopard print belt which I purchased in the M&S sale at the weekend. Unfortunately I can't find it on-line. My other treat to myself last weekend was this navy snood from River Island which will come in super useful this Spring. I've had my eye on it for a while & it will go with so many of the Spring outfits I have in mind.

Now, if this Mama doesn't get the job, its their loss right?!