Friday, 25 July 2014

[BETTY SNAPS] Five Things of the Week - Tippex Nails, Sunshine Flowers and Phoenix Rings...

Bumpkin Betty, Uk Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

1. Sunshine in a vase...
Why break the habit hey? Friday is now officially flower Friday. Even though thunder storms are erupting outside my window as I write this, these beauties are bringing enough sunshine into the flat to combat even the darkest of skies. I picked them up bright and early this morning, back when it actually was sunny and not thunder and lightning, when I took myself out for a little morning walk to start the day (highly recommended by the way - makes the day so much longer) and got so many comments on route home that I've decided sunflowers are the happiest of all flowers. After all nothing says summer better!

Bumpkin Betty, Uk Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

2. Phoenix rising...
You may remember me mentioning a few months back that I had been working on a project with the jewellery brand Stephen Einhorn (you can read more about it soon when my new business website launches properly). My freelance life takes me on all sorts of journeys but meeting the team behind the Stephen Einhorn brand was a definite highlight. They are such a lovely bunch of folks and clearly all so passionate about what they do. Meeting Stephen especially was a real honour as I was seriously beginning to think people like him didn't exist in the fashion industry anymore - those who do it all purely for the love of their craft and personally ensure that every single item produced under their name is given the same care and attention it deserves, so that every customer who buys can get exactly what they want. It's a simple, wonderful and yet very rare philosophy to come by in a successful brand these days and that's why I applaud such success even more. After the project ended the team kindly offered to make me a piece of my own and after much deliberation I chose the Phoenix Rising ring, as the dates coincided with me celebrating a year of being my own boss and there was a certain symbolism there that seemed very apt. Due to my awkward shaped fingers, a little time was needed to get the size just right, but it rose out of the ashes and flew my way this week and I'm absolutely besotted with it. It really is a work of art and one which I'm so privileged to call mine so a big thank you to the ever talented team.

Bumpkin Betty, Uk Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

3. Tippex nails...
It's been a while since I attempted the white manicure. I first gave it go around six years ago when I was interning at an agency that looked after the brand Essie, which meant every day was a new nail colour day. After initially being quite taken with the white, I swiftly went off it when a colleague told me she couldn't see it as anything other than tippex nails and suddenly that was all I could see too. Seeing as it seems to be back on trend this summer (if my Instagram feed is anything to go by) I've given it another go with Rimmel's new Rita Ora collection. I can't decide if I've been convinced yet or if it still reminds me of painting my nails (and the desk) with tippex back in 2nd year of school. What do you think?

Bumpkin Betty, Uk Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

4. Planning our escape...
We've decided we might take a holiday this summer after all. Well actually I've decided and I'm currently trying to talk GB into it. But I realised that it shouldn't take money to warrant a break. I think it's healthy to take a bit of time away from day to day life every so often otherwise it just gets you down so although it won't be an all singing and dancing holiday abroad somewhere glorius, we're currently looking into a little stay-cation where we don't need to spend a lot of money. Today's thunder storm aside the weather has been so good lately we might just be lucky and it will almost feel like being abroad (that's what I'm telling myself anyway!).

Bumpkin Betty, Uk Fashion and Lifestyle Blog

5. Friday attire...
I love easy breezy outfits like this sometimes. Ones that you can throw on with a pair of trainers, pull your hair up in a bun and walk out the door sans jacket and bare legged and feel like you've just left your villa on holiday to pop out for breakfast. Outfits like this are my current Friday attire - perfect for getting work and blog related admin done but still summery enough to warrant a little morning jaunt to pick up some sunflowers! Got to love Fridays...

This weekend is a quiet and relaxing one for me, plenty of time to catch up on blog reading so do drop me your links in a comment!

Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

[BETTY TALKS] My 2014 TO-DO List - An Update...

Bumpkin Betty, UK Lifestyle Blog

Seeing as it's almost the end of July and we are now more than half way through the year (Say WHAT??), I thought it was about time I took a look back at the 2014 to-do list that I wrote back in January and see whether I'm anywhere closer to achieving my goals. I say goals, but really the list itself was more of a collection of little life laundry tasks that I wanted to do, teamed with a few bigger objectives.

Writing this post (and re-reading the list) has made me realise that I'm seriously behind on some points but at least I still have five months left to get my act in gear.

Here goes...

1. Re-design my blog  - a big fat tick is imminent

Well if you're looking around you right now you may think I've utterly failed on this point, BUT actually this one is almost all but ticked off. After six months of emails back and forth, late night sketching and design decisions my new blog design is now in development phase and (all going to plan) should be launching some time in August along with my brand new business website too! I'm so excited to reveal it so stay tuned to see all the changes.

2. Save up for a teeth job/ brace - in progress

This was never going to be a quick tick off the list as one, saving is never easy (shoe sales - why???) and two, I don't really 100% know what I want/ need to do. It's labelled as in progress as I'm currently doing some research into Invisalign braces to see if that's something I want to do and searching for a good dentist to set up a consultation with. If anyone can recommend a good London dental surgery that you may have dealt with for braces etc please do leave me a comment as I'm pretty lost.

3. Read more books - getting there

I'm happy to say that writing this one down at the start of the year has really helped me to make a conscious effort to do it. As I do so much on screen reading throughout the day I often feel way too tired to pick up a book when I get home, but I've realised that it actually relaxes me a lot and feels good to have a real paperback in my hands again after staring at a screen all day. So far I've read the lovely Natasha's debut novel, The Elites, which is utterly brilliant, I highly recommend it, Coming Up Roses, the business story from Cath Kidson and right now I'm getting my teeth into Colin McDowell's The Anatomy of Fashion which is a hefty yet fabulous read.

4. Visit more UK destinations - so far so good

Without even realising it, I have totally aced this one. I've had more trips to the motherland in this first half of 2014 than I normally manage all year. I've travelled to Aberdeen and Edinburgh twice for hen do's and weddings, Glasgow for my Dad's 60th and home to the coast a couple of times. I've also visited York for the first time (another hen do), re-visited Brighton and ventured south to Bognor Regis with the fam. I've got a weekend in Bath planned with friends at the start of August and me and GB are even planning a little stay-cation holiday later in the summer! Hurrah! Any other UK destinations you'd recommend I visit before the year is out?

5. Start using anti-wrinkle cream - Tick!

After too many mornings despairing at my bags (not the Chanel type) in the mirror I but the bullet and bought myself a anti wrinkle night cream (old lady alert) and an age defying eye cream which I now put on as soon as I take my make up off at the end of the day. I'm yet to see any difference but I guess it's a long term thing - pass on brands/ product recommendations if you have any.

6. Get good at photography - Giving myself props

At the start of the year I got myself a new camera, and then with my birthday came a better quality fixed lens and with that came my resolution to always use manual settings and teach myself as much as I could. I've still got a long way to go and I wouldn't say my photography is exactly where I want it to be, but I'm giving myself a major pat on the back here as if I look back at my posts from the beginning of the year and compare them with my most recent ones, there's a noticeable progress with the photography and I'm really proud of some of the shots I've taken. I've got to grips with manual mode, ISO's and the like, now always use manual focus, know how to create extra blur when I want it and can take a mean food aerial shot. All in all I'm going in the right direction. Next up I want to invest in a F 1.4 or lower lens and a macro lens for food shots and concentrate on taking photos in RAW so I can work on the editing side. I've also filmed my first video (eek) and as soon as I get to grips with video editing and hoping to teach myself more on that side too - hurrah!

7. Learn more about new marketing tricks and SEO - ongoing

This was a bit of a boring work related one that I'm not really sure whether I've completed or not. The problem with SEO is that the rules are always changing so there is always something new to learn. Similar when it comes to social media as there always seems to be a new platform/ app to get to grips with. I definitely feel that I know more than I did at the start of the year and my freelance business is happily plodding along. With every new project/ contract I take I feel my knowledge, confidence and ambitions growing so I guess that can only be a good thing.

8. Stop taking sugar in my tea - UTTER FAIL

I tried, I really really did try. I got down to half a spoonful for a little while and thought I was weening myself off but then it only takes one bad day or groggy morning for me to feel like I need it strong and sweet again. It's not to say that I can't drink it without sugar, I just don't like to. Lately however I've had to majorly change my diet as I think I might have an allergy of some sort that keeps flaring up and until I figure it out I'm trying to cut out all the possibilities. Tea is one such thing which may have to be cut out very soon - milk, caffeine - so for now I'm clinging on to those sugar laden cups with dear life until I'm forced to find an alternative. Redbush might be a possibility but really who are we kidding, nothing beats a builders.

9. Create a proper working space for myself - circumstantial fail

I would LOVE to be able to tick this one off the list but right now it just isn't happening. Our flat seems to have reduced in size every time I step through the door, while no matter how much ebaying/ depoping I do our 'stuff' seems to keep increasing. My makeshift dining table turned desk is starting to really frustrate me, as is the clutter of blog and business related paraphenalia that surrounds me all mixed up and unorganised. Time is a major factor that is needed to just turn it all around (something I never have enough of) and space isn't on my side. I'm hoping that before the year is out I can make positive changes an all these matters though (see point below)

10. Move into a flat with a garden so that we can bring home Colin - on the cards

It hasn't happened yet but I really hope that before the end of the year we can move into a new place. Space in our current flat is an issue and as I mentioned above I'd really like to set myself up with a proper home office as I feel that's the important next step to progress my business. There are a few things that are kind of up in the air right now but as soon as we can make a decision about where we want/ need to be for the next chapter in our lives, we can start looking for a new abode. And yes, then we can get Colin - please, pretty please!

So that's where I am, by no means finished but on the right track. I had considered creating a follow up list for the second half of the year but seeing as I've still to work on most of these I think I'm content with this one.

How are you getting on with any new years resolutions/ yearly goals?



Monday, 21 July 2014

[BETTY WEARS] Wishing for Rain with Lulu Guinness...

Lulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin Betty

It's not often that I find myself wishing for rain but when this beaut of a new umbrella from Lulu Guinness arrived I almost found myself doing just that.

After getting rather giddy when I first saw it's delightful print and perfect shape, I then had to leave it untouched for a good couple of months while the sunshine appeared. Not that I was complaining of course, but there is something rather wonderful about stepping outside in the rain knowingly covered.

If I had been secretly wishing for a few raindrops with which to road test my new buddy, then I certainly got that wish last week, when London's heatwaves were interspersed with crazy thunderstorms, meaning we never quite knew when a bout of torrential rain was about to fall (yup you can blame me folks - sorry!).

Lulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin Betty
Duster Coat - ASOS, Top - Vintage, Skirt - Topshop (old, customised), Shoes - Sophia Webster, Hat - Topshop, Umbrella - Lulu Guinness c/o House of Fraser, Watch - c/o Storm, Rings - Accessorize

I always wonder why us Brits don't place more emphasis on the need for a good brolly, seeing as we could easily be using it all year round. I'd never dream of spending as much on an umbrella as I would a pair of shoes but if you think of cost per wear, the umbrella will easily come up trumps - it should really be our number one accessory. Although, I admit to being as guilty as the next when it comes to buying cheap numbers whenever the need arises. I must have about 15 small black almost identical brollies lying around the house but they never seem to last very long and almost always give up and turn themselves inside out in protest the minute there is a gust of wind.

I've always loved the dome shaped umbrellas, those that Queenie always carries whenever she leaves the castle. They are definitely the most robust type and are insanely good at keeping almost every part of you dry and free of the wind (a godsend when you've just done your hair), plus they look pretty adorable in my eyes. I got my first bright pink one when I was at University, from the same company that makes the Queen's ones no less, and I loved it. It lasted me until very recently when one of the spokes finally gave up the ghost and snapped but after nearly 8 years I can't really complain - just goes to show that paying for quality does make sense. Technically it is still use-able, and after so many years of loyal service I do feel a little guilty for discriminating against a mere broken leg, but seeing as it was a gift from an ex boyfriend all those years ago, it did seem like the right time to upgrade.

Lulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin BettyLulu Guinness Umbrella, Bumpkin Betty

And I couldn't be happier with my upgrade - this beautiful monochrome Lulu Guinness birdcage number is sturdy, strong, totally shower proof to even the craziest of thunderstorms and the print is super cute!

In other news, I feel like I've got my fashion mojo back with this outfit (it's been off wandering somewhere unknown for a while) mainly because it includes everything I love - a lot of pink, metallic and sequins. I might do a full post on this topic as I'm sure I can't be the only one who feels a little lost with their style every so often!

What do you think of investing in good quality umbrellas? Do you have a favourite?


Shop the Post...

All Photos by Stuart Watt. Words, styling and silly poses © Bumpkin Betty


Friday, 18 July 2014

[BETTY SHOPS] Five Things of the Week - My Pick of the Sales...

What to buy in the summer sales, Bumpkin Betty

1. My ultimate summer sandal...
Seeing as there wasn't a whole lot of anything exciting going on this week - it mostly consisted of working until the early hours and then collapsing into a exhausted heap every day - I thought I'd use this Friday's five things of the week to show you some of the pieces I've managed to pick up in the summer sales recently. I haven't bought that much this time (hence the five things) as I'm trying really hard to curb my impulse buying, but did instead hunt out the items I'd coveted at full price, along with a couple of cheeky impulse purchases.

First up these Hobbs sandals - I am SO beyond pleased that I managed to bag these in my size. I've mentioned them a few times on the blog and had been lusting after them for a fair few months. I um-ed and ah-ed over them at full price and had them on my wishlist forever, with the curser over 'buy' so many times. When I spotted them in the sale, I didn't want to deliberate anymore and was ready to buy. Unfortunately I seemed to have got the sale memo a little late however and to my disappointment they were sold out online everywhere! But you know me, when I set my heart on something I never give up that easily. After phoning what felt like every shop in London I eventually tracked down the last size 7 pair at the Brunswick Centre store - fate - and didn't hang around to make them mine! I fretted that it was an overly indulgent spend but as soon as I put my tootsies in them, there was no regret - they are the comfiest sandals ever and so chic. I can see them being perfect for work and for play!

Hobbs Kali Sandal - Was £139, Now £110 (sold out in most sizes online but try ringing the stores)

What to buy in the summer sales, Bumpkin Betty

2. Shine on...
This metallic Topshop skirt was one of the more impulsive buys but at only £15 it's hardly an offence. It reminded me of the Antipodium one's I loved but couldn't justify so I thought I'd give it a whirl (literally). It's a bit of an odd length on me - not a mini, not a midi - and the fabric definitely doesn't have the Antipodium appeal, but it's cute, fun and very shiny so my magpie tendencies have certainly been satisfied for a little while.

Topshop Skirt - Was £42, Now £15


3. Bonjour Madam...
You've had a peek at this mini messenger bag from Zara already but I had to feature it in full as I'm so taken with it. It's the perfect size to fit my essentials in - phone, lipstick, sunglasses and the strap is the perfect length to look good worn across the body or on one shoulder. Plus it's pink, and it say Bonjour on it - what's not to love? I also picked up some super cute Accessorize midi rings in their sale which I feel compliment the bag very well.

Zara bag, Was £19.99, Now £9.99

What to buy in the summer sales, Bumpkin Betty

4. Tom foolery dress...
When I spotted this deceptive, looks like a skirt and blouse but is actually a dress, dress while perusing Zara online I knew I wanted it. Since starting my new freelance contract in an agency I've been made very aware of my lack of professional clothes, especially professional clothes that are suitable for summer (I think there's a blog post in that) and this seemed ideal. Although leather doesn't seem like an obvious choice for the warmer months, this skirt is actually pretty roomy meaning plenty of breeze to avoid those sticky situations. The sheer blouse on top is loose, lightweight and dreamy and the fact that it's all one garment makes it decidedly more flattering - no having to tuck the bottom of your shirt into your knickers to avoid getting lumpy bits. It's genius!

Zara dress - Was £39.99, Now £17.99

What to buy in the summer sales, Bumpkin Betty

5. My second ultimate summer sandal...
Ok I didn't intend on buying two pairs of fairly pricey sandals but these were too good to miss out on. I first spotted these Kat Maconie beauties on the lovely Kristabel and my obsession began. First of all I couldn't decide which colour to go for, and then when I finally settled on the classic black and gold - my size was sold out. I clicked the little 'email me when back in stock' button on Zalando, pretty convinced that I wouldn't hear anything. When an email did pop into my inbox a week or so later, and they were reduced significantly, I had clicked buy and was through checkout faster than I could say 'Should I?'. I'm really pleased with them though, again they are the perfect height and you know I love my metallics so that shiny gold strap does it for me.

Kat Maconie sandals at Zalando, Was £155, Now £130 (I bought them for £70 but for some reason they've jumped back up - sorry!)

I'll be featuring all of these items in style posts very soon so keep an eye out but for now I hope you've liked my sales round up? Do let me know what you picked up the sales and I'll try my hardest not to be tempted even more!

Have a great weekend all,


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

[BETTY'S TOP TIPS] 8 Failsafe Locations for Shooting Outfit Posts...

Top Locations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

Ah the outfit post, it has come such a long way since its humble ‘phone snap in a messy bedroom’ beginnings. Colourful backdrops, stunning scenery and shoots which can rival that of any magazine editorial are now common place amongst most of the more well known in the blogosphere.

I’m anything but a pro when it comes to outfit blogging that’s for sure, it’s taken me over a year to really figure out the basics and get confident enough to not run and hide every time I see a passer-by. I still only average a maximum of around one outfit post a week mostly due to time, logistics and the simple fact that I like blogging about lots of different things, but I spend half my free time perusing the outfit posts of others and am constantly in awe of the whole outfit sharing world.

Obviously in an ideal world I'm sure all fashion bloggers would love every one of their outfits to be shot against a beautiful backdrop in an amazing location, which perfectly tied in with the theme of the post, but the reality is that with time factors, busy schedules and the British weather (amiright?) this just isn't always possible. Instead most of us get creative and utilize the spots we do have at our disposal to keep these posts interesting.

Although I know a lot of fashion bloggers who spend time researching and scouting out locations before shooting, most of my blogger friends seem to operate in a similar way to myself, occasionally pre-planning an outfit and location when we know there will be an opportunity (fashion week, blogger events where you can all snap each other etc) but for the most part, just grabbing the chance for a make shift photo-shoot whenever we have a spare minute/ the light is good/ we’ve bullied a camera wielding boyfriend/sibling/ friend to help us out.

In those cases, it’s best to have a few posing spots to fall back on, and I’ve slowly learnt along the way that there are certain locations which never fail when it comes to showcasing an outfit, the majority of which are on most people’s doorsteps.

Everyone will have their own perfect place to pose, but if in doubt these are my top spots, guaranteed to give a reasonably professional look to your outfit photos.  

Top LOcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

1. The Brick Wall...
One of my absolute favourites, there's a good reason why the brick wall always works - it's interesting yet unobtrusive. Against a plain wall your ensemble might not stand out, yet an overly busy wall can clash with your outfit depending on the colours. The reddish brown tones of brickwork complement any outfit regardless of colour or print, but make black and white get ups look especially strong. The subtle pattern makes sure the photo is more visually appealing (guaranteed top marks on Instagram) and it's always handy to have a strong support to lean on when posing. Chances are there will be plenty of photo worthy brickwork outside your house/flat (or maybe even on your house). Even though I live in a block of flats, I only need to nip around the corner to the next street to take my pick of brick! (sorry)

See me posing against a brick wall in my Ascot finest, my back to school attire and my Clueless prints

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

2. The School Railings...
Now just to be clear, I'm obviously not suggesting that you make a habit of hanging around outside schools with a camera in hand. Any type of railing will work, it just so happens that these particular railings around the corner from my flat house a small primary school, but I promise the photos are always taken in the evenings or at the weekends. Anyway, while the brick wall is great, it does lack one thing - depth. Ask any fashion blogger what the holy grail of outfit photography is and they'll say 'good depth of field'. Ok they might not all call it that, some just say 'a blurred background' but when trying to capture a full outfit to its best, it's key to achieve 'depth' within the photo, and shooting flat against a wall won't give you this. Essentially you want the subject (that's you) to be in focus while the background fades away behind you. You can achieve depth with any sort of setting but I especially like the angular perspective that comes from a man made structure such as these railings. These photos are quite old, so not at all perfect but you can still see how the eye is led out of the photo.

See me attempting depth of field in one of my first outfit posts, wearing Georgia Hardinge, and again in my Most Wanted styling challenge.

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

3. The Winding Path...
Another top trick for interesting depth, is the curved path or road. The more windy the better really, in the pic above I've only got one curve but a road that carried on winding below you would be purrrfect. It's a pretty easy setting to come by, even more so if you live in the country and have an abundance of dirt tracks to choose from, but even London can offer this up. The setting above is a woodland walkway just off the park near my flat and although I have to stop every few minutes to let runners past, it's my new favourite location for shooting more outdoorsy inspired outfits. Obviously these type of settings tend to work better in summer so that you can take advantage of all the greenery too but I'm quite excited to see how the photos look come autumn. While on a straight road you might only get a good shot if you stand smack bang in the middle, with a winding road you can stand slightly to the side of the focus and let the road do the talking for you.

See me posing next to a winding path in my sportswear and my festival get up.

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

4. The Beachfront...
Ok I'm cheating a little here as not everyone has a beach by their doorstep, but I had to include it as I love a photo by the seaside. For me there is no better backdrop than blue water meeting blue skies and whether it's Bali or Bognor Regis, if you visit the seaside bring your camera and get that perfect shot. For a location like this, chances are you'll be snap happy throughout the day anyway, so it won't seem like any extra hassle to take a couple of shots of your outfit while you are there (at least that's what I tell GB). What's great about this type of shooting is that your photos will seem much more natural and at ease, because unlike a brick wall or school railing it's perfectly normal for everyone on the beachfront to be taking a photo of themselves by the sea. I especially love it when you capture a bit of wind action, hit click just as the waves are lapping or end up with seagull extras.

See me posing on Brighton Beach, and stay tuned for a full post on the above Bognor Regis adventure soon.

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

5. The White Space...
If you struggle to get outdoors for photos or don't have a willing photographer, then the white wall will be your saviour. I am eternally envious of anyone who has a bright, light house full of white walls with which to shoot against as when it comes to accessory or portrait shots nothing beats it. Not to mention that your instagram #flowerfriday snaps will pop! Currently I only have one white wall in my entire flat and shooting against it means moving quite a lot of furniture around. My living room isn't wide enough for full length photos against said wall but I take advantage of it for portrait photos (more so for beauty or hair posts) and any detail shots of bags, shoes, and flowers. The key advantage to a photo with white space surrounding it is that you can do so much more with the it in the edit. Brightening is a breeze and making the colours stand out is easy. If me and GB ever get to the stage where we own our own house, I have already enforced the idea of a 'blog room' painted white from roof to floor.

See some examples of white wall photos in my Betty goes Blonde post.

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

6. The Front Steps...
If you have a set of steps outside your flat, or even you're neighbour's flat, then you really don't need to go far to get some great shots. Although full length shots can sometimes be tricky (I'm never a fan of the camera looking up at me), steps are great to show off shoes and the classic Carrie Bradshaw 'sitting outside my Manhattan apartment' pose never gets old for me. It's fairly easy to set your camera up on a tripod and achieve the, walking up steps, shoe shot without the aid of a photographer and it offers a slightly different feel to an average feet on the ground pose.

See my best Carrie pose in this Three Ways to Wear and more shoe shots in this birthday evening post.

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

7. The Pastel Coloured Door...
Take a snap of a pastel coloured door and you're guaranteed a fair few likes on Instagram, pose in front of a pastel coloured door, and you might just get a few more. Anything pastel is a dreamy blogger backdrop but there's something rather quaint about those streets lined with doors of different colours. They work especially well to show off cute, retro or particularly girly outfits. Just make sure you don't annoy the folks living inside.

See me posing against pastel streets in my Hour by Hour Brighton post.

8 Top Lcations for Shooting Outfit Posts, Bumpkin Betty

8. The Tree Lined Street...
In the outfit blogging game, trees are your friends. Cherry blossom trees are your absolute best friends but failing that, any tree will do. A tree lined street gives that 'Wisteria Lane' white picket fences and adorable houses vibe, even if either side of you are high rises. When shooting in the daylight or a sun lit setting, the trees can provide shade to ensure your photos aren't over exposed and they can create really interesting shadows which make your pics that bit more interesting, especially when you edit the contrast. Not ideal for every outfit but good for adding interest to block colours.

See me making use of the tree shadows in NYC, during this Autumn themed shoot and with my recent post on the yellow dress.

And if all else fails, just add a dog (see above)!

I by no means see myself as an expert in either outfit blogging or photography but I hope this might help a few of you see your surroundings in a new way. I'd love to know what your favourite spots are for shooting outfits?



Monday, 14 July 2014

[BETTY BAKES] Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake...

How to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin Betty

It's no surprise to any one who knows me that I'm a massive sweet tooth. I'll always choose dessert over a starter in a restaurant, I find it very difficult to enjoy a cup of tea without a biscuit and if I was on death row there's no doubt that a large slab of hot chocolate fudge cake would form part of my final supper.

So as you can imagine, when trying to be healthy, cutting out the sweet stuff is where I really struggle. Smaller portions, more greens and less carbs, all easy peasy (ok maybe the carbs thing isn't exactly easy - I do love me some pasta) but ask me to cut out my sweet treats however, and I'll have lost the battle the minute someone mentions morning croissant. 

That's when enjoying home baking comes in pretty handy, as what I usually tell myself is that at least if I'm eating the sweet stuff that was made by my own fair hands I know exactly how much sugar/ butter/ chocolate I'm consuming and I can attempt to make things that feature more fruit than fat... sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Usually treats of the sweet variety that are tasty and healthy are hard to come by, but I think I've stumbled across a pretty scrumptious little bake that although no cactus juice, is slightly better positioned on the healthy scale than my usual giant slab of Tiffin or indulgent Victoria Sponge Cake. 

How to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin Betty

Enter the Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake. Sounds like one of those mumbo jumbo health conscience cakes that isn't really a cake doesn't it? Well let me assure you, that despite the fact I adapted it from a recipe I found in a book named 'When I Chose to be Healthy' (or something of that ilk), it is in fact a cake and a pretty delicious one at that.

The key is the spelt flour - a little more expensive than your usual wholemeal or white variety but said to be better for you due to the lack of wheat. It would, under normal circumstances, see your sponge come up a little dry but that's where the almonds come in, adding moisture, sponginess and a bit of a sweet nutty taste. White sugar is swapped for brown (which basically means it cancels itself out right?) and the large slab of butter added is all but forgiven when we think about the amount of fruit that gets thrown in. I'm not claiming it's the saint of baked goods but it's decidedly less evil than most. You can of course use any fruit you like, cherries were my choice and I'd highly recommend them but I think anything in the berry family would work equally well. 

How to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin Betty

You will need...

125g unsalted butter
125 g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
50g wholemeal spelt flour
25g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
500g cherries (replace with your choice of fruit as an alternative)
4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar
30g flaked almonds

How to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin Betty

How it's done... 

1. Preheat your oven to around 180/200 C and line or grease a round cake tin.
2. Beat your butter and soft brown sugar until it resembles a light toffee colour and is completely smooth. Top tip - take your butter out of the fridge an hour or so before you start baking it make it easier to beat.
3. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Top tip - it may look like the mixture is curdling at times and if so just add a bit of your flour while beating.
4. Fold in both flours, the ground almonds and the baking powder gently using a large spoon.
5. Tip the mixture into your greased tin and gently spread out around the edges.
6. Pit your cherries and throw them loosely on top of the cake mix. No need to mix them in - they will sink in as cooked.
7. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the top of the cake and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top before returning to the oven for 10 minutes.
9. Use a skewer in the middle of the cake to test when ready (if it comes out clean and the cake looks nice and golden brown you're good).
10. Leave to cool before slicing and serving. Perfect hot with a little cream or ice cream for dessert or cold as a mid afternoon snack.

How to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin BettyHow to Make Cherry and Almond Spelt Cake, Bumpkin Betty

This lasted us a full week (pretty good going for cakes in our house) and felt so light I even took it for breakfast a couple of mornings when rushing out to work. Considering both myself and GB are as bad as each other when it comes to sweet indulgences, we both rated this pretty highly so I'll be making it again very soon! 

If you do give it a go, be sure to tag your photos with #bettybakes so I can see your creations. 



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