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Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Belated Overview

After a series of terrible events this year, I've found I've become less personal on my blog posts of late. I would love to change that, and share an overview of last year.

Some of you know, and some of you don't, but 2017 was a tumultuous year. I lost my aunt and her three beautiful children in a house fire. I started a new career and full time working hours after 3 years of maternity leave/part time work. I then lost a grandfather to cancer, and finally my biological father, whose hand I held as he passed.

I recently joked that I look forward to saying goodbye to 2017, but the truth is, I don't. You see, I am thankful for this awful, beautiful, exhausting, exhilarating, blessed year. I have experienced the loss of too many family members, ran on too many sleepless nights, and felt stretched far too thin. I have completed University assignments on international flights to funerals (wine in hand) and taken business calls between family calls literally about life or death. But I have also gained so much. Through every hardship and trial is the opportunity to gain wisdom and empathize with others. Without this year, I would never be able to comfort a stranger who has experienced similar loss and say "I know what it is to say goodbye to your father, and I understand with all of my heart". I'd never have known the extent of what family means to me. I'd never know what I am capable of, even if that capability is just getting through in one piece, mostly sound of mind.

This may be my psychology studies talking, but there is a correlation between happiness and the way you view hardship. Those that view hardship as a challenge to overcome rather than an issue that is happening to them are generally happier. We cannot change what life throws at us, but we can change how we address it. This year, as you prepare for the beauty and pain that may lay ahead, know that you are stronger than you realise. My only wish for you is that you go into 2018 knowing that there is nothing you cannot accomplish because you choose to put the work and diligence into accomplishing it.


As for a belated goodbye to 2017....

January started with a review of Valentine's day outfits, a list which included the late Wheels & Dollbaby brand. Read here.


February saw a review of a post baby friendly swimsuit from Pinup Girl Clothing. Read here.

March was all about Hearts and Found and their matching kidlet skirts! Read here.



April included a body positive post and review of the Jade dress by Collectif. Read here.


May was for unicorns in a Baking With Littles segment. Read here.


In June I delved into balancing busy mamaness. Read here.



In July my husband kindly photographed some Unique Vintage. Read here.



In August I reviewed Micheline Pitt's ballerina skirt, which to this day rocks my little world. Read here.


Jools Couture ruled much of my closet this year, and September's handbag review was no exception. Read here.



October was full of baking goodies, and it was Ghosts in a Graveyard for my Baking With Littles post! Read here.


November was full of pinup photography QUEEN Brooke Orchard Photography, and a review of Stop Staring. Read here.


and December paid homage to matching outfits in Trashy Diva. Read here.




Now, this year, I am so excited for what is to come! I have recipes lined up for Baking With Littles. I will have the opportunity to work more with my favourite pinup photographer. I also have several amazing retro brands that I will have the pleasure of reviewing and sharing with you. There may even be just a little bit of travel.

Thank you so much for reading!!

xo
Miss Betty Doll

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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Lace Me Up in Demi Loon

Demi Loon has been part of my closet for years. Their tops have often served as my go-to for casual retro looks, especially in my early days with Selene. I often needed something comfortable and quick to put on that still retained my pinup vibe.

Demi Loon has a range of modern pinup looks, offering all of your familiar pinup prints like polka dots and cherries, in comfortable designs. With tops starting at just $34 USD, you might be surprised to know they are all American made! I've had several of their tops for years now, and they still look fantastic.

The lovely ladies at Demi Loon sent me the new Mimosa Lace Up Blouse in polka dots, and I couldn't wait to try it. I absolutely love long-sleeved pieces with stretch, as I have sensitive skin and don't like restrictive clothing. This top is ridiculously comfortable, and has all the sexy you'll need!



It features a plunging neckline, slinky spendex blend fabric, and leather look laces. I tucked mine into my top for a more stream-lined look, but you can tie them up or let them hang freely. The deep neckline means you have the option of wearing a cami underneath or lacing up to your own style preference.

The wrists are elasticised, giving the top a slight balloon sleeve.



 









(I can't get through a shoot without my babies popping in. Aurora woke up fresh (and sweaty!) from a nap for a cuddle, followed by Selene. I've been telling her that taking pictures is my other job, so she told me she is going to work like me, and then struck the cutest pose. <3)

You can grab this top in white polka dot print and plain black, and all run at just $40USD. PLUS, the lovlies down at Demi Loon are offering 25% off your order for a limited time. Use coupon code BETTYDOLL25 for the discount! Head to https://demiloon.com/ for more styles.

Thank you for reading, and happy shopping!

xo Miss Betty Doll
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Monday, 18 December 2017

Baking With Littles: Eggnog Logs - Plus a Review of Violets in May!

I have a two-in-one for you all today! I am happy to share both my favourite childhood cookie recipe that my own mother made almost every year for Christmas and a review of this gorgeous set from Violets in May!

Every year I make cookie batch after cookie batch to give away to visitors and bring into the workplace. My mother is a homemaker, and soaking in all the beautiful things she did in the kitchen was always one of my favourite things. Baking is deeply imbedded in my childhood, so much so that my greatest heartache when I moved to Australia was not getting to continue our tradition every year.

Many other women in my family are also big bakers. I have my gorgeous cousin Angie, who is also a homemaker and one of the most creative bakers I know. There is my southern Granny Dee, who whips up delicious goods every holiday, and my Aunt Jules, who recently spent hours in the kitchen with me for a bittersweet family get together in my late father's honor.

Needless to say, I cannot do a holiday without baking.

Without further ado, here is the Taste of Home Eggnog Log recipe that my mother has made every year for as long as I can remember. She puts Red Hots on the tips of each cookie, and it's a beautiful touch. I've put my own twist by using a star tip to pipe the frosting.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


FROSTING:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
  • Ground nutmeg


DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the nutmeg, egg and extracts; mix thoroughly. Stir in flour. If necessary, chill dough for easier handling.

On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into 1/2-in.-diameter rolls; cut each into 3-in.-long pieces. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

For frosting, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups sugar and extracts; mix well. Beat in cream and remaining sugar. Frost cookies. With tines of a small fork, make lines down the frosting to simulate bark. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Yield: 4-1/2 dozen.

How to make it child friendly:
  • Let your little one hold the mixer or pour pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl.
  • Do not skip the chilling! Even 15 minutes will make it easier for little hands to handle
  • Let your little one do the rolling out into little logs - even if they turn out uneven, the pretty piped frosting will hide it!
  • If old enough - let them squeeze the bag as you pipe the frosting.


Remember, little ones do not need to be present through it all. Children get bored, and tired adults run out of patience. Feel free to have them help you mixed the dough, then bake all the cookies yourself and have them help you pipe a few. Or have them only do the rolling out. It's up to you, just do what is fun and involves their little hands. I made sugar cookies for the office this weekend, and Selene helped hold the mixer and did the cookie cutter shapes. That's it, and it was stress free :)





And now for this gorgeous set from the ever so lovely Violets in May. 

Though it is too close to Christmas to order it, I wanted to review these anyway because they come in many different fabric patterns!

First, there's the Dolly Top. This top is actually quite a crop top. It's made out of such structured and light fabric that it doesn't tug at your net at all, and can be worn criss cross in the front. It buttons in the back as well, making for a beautiful fit and adorable detail. This one comes with tiny pompoms along the bustline (which Aurora loves, let me tell you!), however not all of the other Dolly Tops do. Each one is unique in final touches. You can request custom sizing as most items are made to order. 

The gathered skirt is also very comfortable and flares out beautifully. I wore a petticoat in this shoot, however you can get away without one! Make sure you order according to your measurements for the skirt, as if it is too loose your top can pop out because it is cropped! The beautiful Lola Diamond - pinup model and creator of Violets in May - is very quick to answer sizing queries. If you want to know - just ask!


The top is available in other colours here, and the skirts can be found here. 
I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I know from experience that this time of year can be both beautiful and difficult. As a year comes to a close, it is always a time of reflection on the joys and sorrows of the year past. For me, it's always been a time to both miss family overseas, and celebrate with the one that I made. This year in particular, it is filled with thoughts of the many family members that we lost this year.

For others, it can be a time of deep loneliness. It can be a time for grieving. Reach out to one another, and be kind from the bottom of your heart.

Thank you so much for reading.

xo
Miss Betty Doll









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Monday, 11 December 2017

Matching Mother Daughter Outfits: Wild for Wildflowers in Trashy Diva

Ah, motherhood. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that motherhood is the biggest, most beautiful contradiction. Never in your life will you feel such a constant array of emotions, from each end of the spectrum, as you do when you have children. You can wake up exhausted, feel elated at 10am as your little one learns a new word, frustrated by 10:01am as said little one spills smoothie all over your floor, infuriated at noon as your eldest yells an unseemly insult when you tell them it’s nap time, miss them an hour after they go to sleep, and then collapse into bed precisely 5 minutes after they go down for the night. Honestly, I don’t think it’s the physical activity that accompanies parenthood that makes us all so tired – it’s the emotional upheaval. But, my, isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced in your life?

Speaking of emotions, matching with my little princesses has been one of the biggest joys. It’s elicited wonderful conversations from strangers, giggles of glee from Selene when she realizes we have the same dress, and endless fun photos to embarrass them with one day. I honestly don’t know how much longer we will get to match – one day they will wake up and realize they have their own fashion sense, and that will be the end of that. But, for now, I’ll soak it all in.









 











Trashy Diva has been doing matching little miss outfits for years now. They don’t release them with every collection (or, trust you me, I would have many more dresses for the girls!), but when they do I snatch them right up.

This time, there were only sizes 3 / 4 and 5 / 6 of the little Emma Dress left, but I bought them anyway for future use. However, I’ve been delighted to find they actually fit the girls now! They are normally size 2 and size 4, but the loose and flowy design and adjustable shoulder straps means we get extra long use out of them. They are made from the same fabric as the rest of the Wildflowers Collection, and are fully lined. With no zips to be had, they are one of my favourite dresses for the girls right now – they just slip on and go!



As for me, I ordered a size US4 of the Ruby Mini Dress, and it’s a perfect fit. The smocked sizes make for ease of wear, and – yes – there are pockets. Combine all of that with the mini skirt length, and I couldn’t be happier with this dress! I would say to size up if you are heavier in the bust, as the fabric itself is non-stretch and the smocking on the size will help it conform to your waist if too big. Other than that, it’s very comfortable and true to size. 

The Wildflowers Collection also comes in a Pussybow Dress, longer Hopscotch Dress and more! The print is absolutely perfect for Australian summer, but I know many of my readers come from the west coast - land of no seasons. This is the perfect buy for you too, ladies!




For more beautiful summer styles, head over to Trashy Diva.

Thank you so much for reading!

xo Miss Betty Doll

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Monday, 4 December 2017

Dear Jools... Your Suits are Devine - a Screen Siren Suit Review

First of all, I'd like to draw your attention to just how much the Jools brand has expanded! There is now an all encompassing website called The House of Jools, which is home to Jools Couture, Hollywood Honeys and Romeo and Jools.

  • Jools Couture, as you know, is a classic, old hollywood brand that encompasses all things glamour. 
  • Hollywood Honeys is a newer offering, which has both stylish, casual pieces and a fabulous Wonder Woman activewear line
  • Romeo and Jools is line of beautifully supportive, modern swimwear and casual wear
The Wonder Woman x Hollywood Honeys collaboration means The House of Jools have their hands on 1 of just 100 Wonder Woman replica tiaras, for which they were recently hosting a giveaway. If you'd like to be added to their Facebook group so you can stay in the loop with these exciting announcements, please let me know and I will be sure to get you added!


Now then - I've had the pleasure of reviewing daywear and nightwear for Jools Couture, but this latest review honestly has me swooning. I ordered the aptly named Screen Siren suit before I went to a conference in Sydney back in September. I'd been switching between several suit jackets at work for meetings, none of which were very "me". I saw this suit and knew my suit search was over. 





I ordered a side 1 in both the jacket and skirt, which is like a US size 4 or an AU size 8. The fabric is stretchier than I anticipated, and it makes it very comfortable. It's highly structured and thick, and made of a cross stitch fabric, but it's also very breathable. The little peplum at the waist flares out of it's own accord due to the make up of the fabric - as do the shoulders.

It also comes with this stunning broach, which is weighty and high quality as the rest of the broaches that have come with their pieces. 



As with all of her pieces, the corsetiere background is very apparent in the careful details and fabulous construction of this suit. 

It is worth every penny, however I am excited to share a discount code for this suit. From now until Sunday my readers will receive 15% off of the entire Screen Siren Range - use discount code SCREENSIREN15 until Sunday, 10 December 2017 at 11.59pm UTC-12. 

Click here for the Screen Siren Suit and here for the rest of the collection!





As a side note - I had to finish this set over two days, first of all because we were suffering from a heatwave the first round, and second of all because this little miss couldn't stop with all the cuddles.

I don't know what I would do without my beautiful girls, honestly. They are both so strong-willed and mischievous, yet soft and deeply understanding. I couldn't love them more.

Until next time - thank you so much for reading!

xo Miss Betty Doll
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