Thursday, 16 October 2014

The autumn parka, inspired by my Rosie

Brighton beach: Parka style


An impromptu post today. I haven't done many of these recently. They're usually too rambly and unplanned with heavy 'text to photo' ratio. But when I read other blogs I actually enjoy reading the 'rambling' posts more, so here's my take at one. Hope you've got a cuppa on the go.

Autumn is officially here, there's wet leaves as far as the eye can see, the paths are getting frosty, ankle boots are out and the chunky layers that hid at the back of wardrobes finally see daylight again. Best time of year! I've been waiting all summer for this.

After reading my main girl Rosie's newest post on her blog (Everything's Rosie) today, I was stunned. She's posted one of her first outfit posts on her (mainly beauty related) blog, and she looks amazing. Of course, her effortless chic style, girly tartan scarf and new cosy parka got me and lots of her readers excited for the cold times ahead that I thought I'd share my parka too. Rosie, I see your parka and I raise you mine, haha. Who knows, maybe we could start a "The Autumn Parka" chain of posts? If you have one, share yours too!

My parka is old now. That pic up there was from 2012 (if you're reading this Neil, can you BELIEVE how long ago this was?! Feels like yesterday) It's still my pride and joy as it was back then and in brilliant condition. It's all fur lined in the inside and the hood and is the perfect coat for those chilly mornings. Best £100 I ever spent in Topshop all those years ago ;)

I'm off for a weekend in York tomorrow, and I've heard t'north is always FREEZING so I'll be packing this bad boy and tell you all about my travels when I'm home next week.

Have a great weekend folks :)

Oh, and go follow Rosie!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

If you're on a diet, look away now | Lindt Lime Chocolate Brownies


Delicious Lindt Lime Chocolate brownie recipe ››

Two days prior to me flying over to Ireland for bridesmaid duties for my fabulous sister's wedding, and I was in the kitchen baking up a storm, scoffing down Lindt's new Dark Lime Intense chocolate like as if I was a size 6 and told to put on weight. I wish

I always seem to catch the baking bug whenever I'm trying to eat healthily, so managed to stop at my third brownie and brought the rest in for the lads at work. They seemed to like them. 

I LOVE baking brownies. If there was any recipe that could be considered my 'speciality' without being laughable, it's this. I followed my old faithful Dark Chocolate & Raspberry recipe only replaced the raspberries for a citrus kick. I ground and smashed the Lindt chocolate into tiny pieces and added it into the mixture before baking, and it was moreish. 

Next time you bake brownies, pick up a few squares of this to spice up the flavour. Next time I'll be using Lindt's delectable Cherry Intense. Now imagine the taste of Cherry brownies and salivate!

Delicious Lindt Lime Chocolate brownie recipe ››


Delicious Lindt Lime Chocolate brownie recipe ››

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Interior Bargains #8: The perfect Herringbone blanket


Grey/White Herringbone throw £10, Primark

Hallelujah. It's a miracle. I've knabbed myself a herringbone blanket that looks the part and didn't cost the best part of £90 like all the others I want online.

Not sure if you know of Bronte throws? Non? Well I've had my eye on their soft, pastel grey blankets since forever. There's something very traditional and 'farmer-chic' about them that I've fallen head over heels for. 

Whilst I save up for a much better quality, thick Bronte version to call my own and keep me warm on wintery nights, I picked up this rather bargainous stand-in for only a tenner. It certainly looks the part, although there's about as much heat in it as a cat in an igloo. 

I love the delicate grey print, the white tassels and the way it effortlessly tosses over the new love of my life (Chesterfield sofa) giving it a wintery feel. Shame it's very thin, but in this case, I don't mind channelling style over substance. 

What do you think? The blanket comes in lilac and green too (at least if I remember correctly).... Let me at 'em!



Ps, just in case you didn't know, I'm trialling a little thing in October. Every day at about 9am (well, whenever I can muster up the energy) I'll be sharing a DAILY HOUSEPIRATION link/image on my facebook page to get inspired. If you fancy cheering up your newsfeed with some home love, give my page a like and get daily snippets of home ideas :), go ahead.

Like Fifi McGee on Facebook

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Tea & Cake at... Stanmer House (and other 'knobby russet' affairs)


How lucky are we that the weather's looking better than it did in August?! At least, that was the case for my visit to Stanmer House a few weekends ago, and also for my sister's wedding a few days ago (photos to come!)

Of course, before I left the house to embark upon a short drive out Falmer way, I wrapped up in a scarf and two layers, anticipating (and looking forward to!) an autumnal breeze. Stepped outside and it was hotter than the Med, a concrete jungle. Typical.

Since Neil & I got the car, it's any excuse to drive out to the country. A few weekends gone, we took an impromptu trip to the fabulous Stanmer House, about a 15 min drive from where we are, initially wanting some tea and cake, but ended up getting a bit more than we bargained for...






lols, had to include it

As we excitedly pulled in to the lane leading up to stanmer village we saw a big fete-like sign, 'Apple Day this way!'. Yep, typically, the morning we chose to go for a quiet stroll and cuppa tea ended up timed perfectly with one of Stanmer's biggest events of the year. A congregation of families, stalls, ciders, organic produce in all its finery. We weren't displeased by the crowds. There was a lot of hilarity to be had. 

We started off in the orchard. Took some shots of as many inuendo apple tree names we clapped eyes on and rolled forth to the bulk of the action. There were morris dancers, songs, table tennis-athons, apple pressing, you name it. Twas like a day at The Shire :)





Stanmer house itself is a stunner both outside and in. I had a whale of a time walking round the old country 'period living' styled rooms - if you're ever looking for interior inspiration, just hit up a café or wedding venues like Stanmer House and you'll be sure to return with some enviable furniture ideas and a longing for a grand open fire. It made me so excited for Christmas, as hot as it were.



Sunglasses, Primark
Scarf, Primark
Dress, Zara
Clutch c/o Kaliko
Boots, Topshop





We suitably stocked up on scones and mdtea, and had to rush back home for a long awaited delivery of our new chesterfield sofa. I went from one stately home, to trying to create my own in the space of two hours :) it was a really lovely way to spend a Sunday morning though, although I still wished for that crispness in the air. I looked bloody ridiculous wrapped up all cosy with sunglasses on. 





Have you visited Stanmer House before? Were you in awe as I was? I'm constantly on the lookout for villages, tea shops and country walks to write about so if you're from Sussex and know somewhere close by, drop me a line :)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Does your personality coincide with your star sign?


Bet you didn't know that Fifi McGee has a twin bro, eh? You learn something new. I've been persuading him to do a duo blog with me... "Twin style with Shamie McGee", but he's having none of it ;) he's got better things to do than prance around taking photos and writing about himself online. Who would do such a thing?! ;)

Him and I were born March 14th a minute between each other, making us Pisces. Pisces are known to be the most spiritual star sign, and that I back. My intuition is razor sharp and the level of spiritual activity I've played witness to in my life would make even the strongest sceptic believe. I'll save the haunted house stories for another time ;)



There we are as wee kiddies with Dad's old Ford Cortina in Ireland. Classic family shot!


We've always been a pretty compassionate duo, very empathetic and understanding of other people's sensitivity. Another typical Pisces trait. But as a water sign, with a supposed natural love and "at-one-ness" with water, we couldn't be far from Pisces if we tried. The two of us have no idea how to swim, never have, never learned, and whilst snorkling in the Great Barrier Reef sounds like great thing to do, that's definitely the last thing you'll ever see us tick off the list! Our Irish roots, love for hills and fields makes us show more Cancer traits, but nonetheless to some extent the stars alignment when we were born had an impact on our personalities. If it didn't, we wouldn't be so similar, showing the same traits right?

What do you think? Do you show traits of your star sign?

Pandora have a cool Zodiac Wheel that outlines different personality traits for each star sign. Have a read through the app and see whether you're anything like what it outlines. It's spooky how accurate it can be. Take my beautiful sister for example. She's a Virgo through-and-through. Sensible, classic clothes, light fragrances and understated jewellery. 

She also LOVES Pandora (Caroline, look away now if you're reading this!). As her birthday is around the corner, and with her heavy Pandora bracelet jam-packed with charms and memories, she's always been easy to buy for, more so now that Pandora have launched a competition to win one of 5 charms from their new Essence range every month. Now, there's a perfect opportunity to enter for yourself or for a Virgo/Libra loved one.

I'll definitely be entering for my sister, will you?

This post was in collaboration with Pandora. I was under no obligation to write this post, all words my own. As someone who loves the brand, I wanted to share this brilliant opportunity to win some beautiful charms! Good luck everyone!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Our beautiful new kitchen tiles (Before & After photos)

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

If you've just bought a new home (or if you've EVER bought a new home before) you'll know exactly how slow it can be working through that never ending long list of things you need to change and get fixed. Unless you're lucky enough to have bought a stunning new-build, like my fabulous sister! I'm very impatient, and a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my house. I want things done NOW but haven't yet faced facts that dolla don't grow on trees :(

Getting some kitchen tiling done was surprisingly low on our priority list seeing as we have more pressing matters like leaks to fix and a fire place to install! yay! But seeing the walls behind the cooker get repeatedly splashed by bacon grease, I'd had enough. Bring in the tilers, fast.

It's a pretty hot trend on pinterest at the moment to marry white tiles with black grout. There's something all too clinical about white tiles with plain ol' white grout, and as our kitchen has quite a 'country' vibe with an island sink (not pictured) and stable back door, Neil & I knew going down the pinterest route would round up the look perfectly.

We worked with British Ceramic Tile on this look, flicking through their catalogue of really beautiful patterned and colourful tiles. They have every colour you can imagine. It was hard not to be tempted to abandon ship and go down the pattern route with all the fab tiles on offer, but we had a vision and decided to see it through.

We opted for Laura Ashley's new Artisan tile range for their glossy uneven charm. Here's how it looks...

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

It's made the whole kitchen feel much more complete and homely. Not to mention it makes a brilliant backdrop for displaying my cacti and papping my baking posts. What dya think?

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

Interior blog - Before & after kitchen tiles: white tiles on black grout

I've gotta say, choosing tiles is TOUGH work. They really change the appearance of a room, and unless you have an exceptional imagination, it can be really hard imagining exactly how the finished result will look.

I was delighted that British Ceramic Tile were more than happy to post me as many tiles as my fussiness demanded. If you're picking and choosing tiles in the future, make sure you have the tiles right there in front of you and prop them up against the wall. You wouldn't believe how different some looked online both size-wise and colour. I'm overall SO pleased with the look though. Laura Ashley tiles... and in my experience, ALL homeware are fantastic quality, and I can't rate British Ceramic Tile highly enough.

Don't forget to follow me up there in the corner if you liked this post :)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My 24 hour digital detox... on a rowing boat


Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Hola amigos. Bit of a different post for me as a few weeks ago I was challenged by Insurance2go to do a whole 24 hours IPHONE AND MAC-LESS! Shock horror.

Yes. The newest campaign on the block is for us bloggers to retreat from all things digital. No facebook, no twitter, no texting, no calls and, wait for it, NO FLAPPY BIRD.

At first I thought it would be easy. I'm not usually glued to my iPhone, the odd text here and there, some flicks through twitter and posting to instagram, certainly not like other people who need their phone right beside their plate of chips in a restaurant, eyes darting when the screen lights up.

Or so I thought...

After trying - and epicly failing - at doing the digital detox whilst camping with the girls (it was hard even when in the wilderness without signal!) I managed about 12 hours and missed people at home so much that I wanted to know everything was ok so caved.

It beat me up pretty bad. I didn't want to be that kinda person, cradling their phone instead of soaking in the camping atmosphere, so I decided to give it another shot and challenged myself in a more 'routine' kinda day.

Neil and I visited Barcombe Mills, a sleepy town in Sussex and the 24 hours went a little bit like this...

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex


00:00am Fifi sound asleep dreaming of tartan blankets and blogging

08:00am Up at the crack of dawn I usually reach for my phone before I even say good morning, to check the time, twitter and emails. Instead I spent the morning making up a picnic for Neil & I's plans, doing some cleaning and flicking through some interior mags, making notes on all the period furniture I wanna buy for our new home.

12:00pm Neil & I hit the road for the postcard-picturesque town of Barcombe Mills. There's nothing better than doing a digital detox whilst lapping up the great outdoors. I found that I was much more engaged in conversation, chatting away to bar staff at the Anchor Inn, whereas usually I place an order of drinks and immediately look at my phone to tide over the awkward silences. 


Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex


13:30pm After a nice hearty brew at the pub, we hired a rowing boat for a 'romantic' row down the river Ouse right beside The Anchor Inn. Sounds a lot more romantic than it actually was. I spent the whole time TERRIFIED of our boat capsizing clutching to my lifejacket, getting stuck in overhanging branches and screaming when dragonflies flew too close with nowhere to run. Still, at least I didn't have my phone with me to worry about if I had to unexpectedly dive into the river ;)


Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex


15:00pm All this boat action made me forget about my digital detox and after some belly aching laughter climbing out of the rowing boat, we took to the riverbank for a well deserved picnic. It was this point I started missing my phone. The picturesque scenery was just TOO instagram-able. But I stood firm and promised myself I'd share some of Neil's photos on instagram the next day. The world wasn't about to end! Hoorah!

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex

17:00pm On the drive home we took a de-tour to adventure around the local village. Not much to see bar some cute pubs we'll definitely be returning to for Sunday lunch, and sure enough, we found ourselves a little lost in the country roads. At this point I was wishing I brought my phone with me for emergency access to satnav. It's amazing how dependent and lost I felt without Google Maps in my life. Neil ended up having to pull in and navigate on his phone given his Chief Map Reader was out of action! Good job too, I'm the world's worst map reader.

20:30pm After some light din dins when we got back, we settled down for the eve. This usually cues me setting up The 4400 (a Netflix finest) on my Mac / Chromecast - but not tonight. No digital means no Netflix :( which is another part of modern technology I'm massively dependent on. Instead we watched Lord of The Rings on Blu Ray. Yep. We actually put a DVD into the playstation. And there was me thinking DVD's were extinct! It felt so good to watch a film in stunning quality besides it collecting dust in the cupboard.


Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex


Photos from our trip to Barcombe Mills, Rowing in Sussex


23:00pm Similar to my first try at going phone/laptop free, it got to about 11pm and I suddenly got paranoid people have been trying to get in touch with me, that something serious has happened and I'm having a whale of a time none the wiser. This is what made me fail the previous try, so I talked myself round and fell asleep reading a book. 

Come the morning I was a happy lassy again, checking tweets, sharing photos of the day before and replying to emails. The detox was a real eye-opener for me. I thought I could easily go weeks without my mac and iphone, but I feel like my bad sense of direction and addiction to sharing photos on Instagram makes me totally dependent on it. Vive le apple!

How do you think you'd get on? Have you given it a go?

Disclaimer: I was approached by Insurance2go to do this challenge and as a thanks, was given a super cute Nexus 7 so I never have to go technology-less again! I was under no obligation to write or feature this and all thoughts are my own. 

Photos by Neil W. Shaw Photography (psst, he also does weddings!)
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