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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Unique Vintage Diana Swing Dress Review

I haven't had a go-to polka dot dress for ages. I'm not even sure what happened to all of my polka dot dresses! I'm sure they are tucked into the back of my closet somewhere... but, I've digressed, because this dress is my favourite polka dot number to date.

I actually reviewed the Diana Swing Dress by Unique Vintage two years ago, and took photos in the same location: Werribee Mansion. I knew it was worth another review though, because this one is made from a different fabric and gives off a very different vibe from my last post on this style.

My favourite thing about this style is the built-in petticoat. There's a slip and a fluffy underskirt all hidden beneath the gorgeous dress, and makes getting ready that much easier. You can feel the weight of it when you slip it on and off. The top is nice and light, but there are definite layers in the skirt of the dress. The fabric is stretchy enough that it holds in place without weighing you down, however.

A close second to my top favourite thing about this style has to be the pockets. I'm getting more and more addicted to them, especially as my little ones grow older and need less stuff when we leave the house.

Fit-wise, true to size works just fine. I seem to be an XS in most brands at the moment, and a S in others. This one is a size S, but I could easily have done the XS and probably would have had a better fit! The fabric is like a lightweight bengaline, so it'll form to your curves just fine! Current measurements are 35-24-35.

The tiny bows at the elbows of the sleeves complete the dress, in my opinion. And speaking of sleeves, the stretchy fabric means they are comfortable. I used to mention often how hard it was to find comfortable sleeved dresses in pinup world. I think that's becoming less and less the case, but it's still always keeping an eye out for. There's nothing like trying to bend your arms at the elbows and being restricted by your outfit choice.

This was the first dress I wore into work on a properly Casual Friday. Up until a few weeks ago, I had been in my usual business attire due to meetings etc. This was therefore the first dress I wore to work in my normal retro style. I found that, while clearly not the sleek, black norm of Melbourne style, it's not outlandish enough to be out of place in an office. Not that I mind outlandish (see my latest rainbow outfit post on instagram, and you'll know what I mean!).


Thank you to my husband, who took these photos for me! I've mentioned before that one of the pre-requisites of going back to work full time, was that he would help me get my blog photos done. We took the girls out to Werribee Mansion today, and spent 5 minutes snapping these on the grounds before frolicking about, going on the Little Red Train ride and other silliness.

It's days like these that make me really take a step back and be thankful. Often times, the older we get, the more we discover how cruel life can be... I know that is true for me, especially this year. But, feeling the sunshine, gaining knowledge about the world, loving those around you... I know it sounds cheesy, but simply being alive is such a beautiful state of being.

We throw the words "blessed" and "thankful" around a lot in this generation. "Blessed" with my Starbucks coffee and "thankful" for things on social media that we are really just humble bragging about... these are just words.The real blessing, I think, is just being alive and loving, no?

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll


Friday, 21 July 2017

Baking With Littles: Apple Roses

Apple Roses started circulating on social media years ago, but they immediately struck me as too time consuming. Don't even ask me why, as I finally made some the other weekend and they were ridiculously simple. 

First, as always, I suggest doing a bulk of the prep work before you even advise your kiddo(s) that it's time to bake. It makes everything run so much smoother, trust me.

Thaw 2-3 sheets of puff pastry. Then,core and cut 2 apples in half and start slicing them very thin (I suggest Red Delicious, as the red skin makes the finish product appear more like a rose, but I used Granny Smith). You could use a mandolin, but I used a very sharp knife and worked slowly.

Place the apply slices in a bowl of water with 1tsp of lemon juice as you go.

Next, microwave the apples for 1-2 minutes, just until they are soft enough that you can bend them without them breaking. We need them pliable for creating the "rose petals" without being mushy.

Next, melt 2 tbsp of butter and mix with equal parts brown sugar. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Then, have your little one help you spread it across your thawed puff pastry sheet.

This part gets messy. That's ok.You know why I'm smiling here and everything is still clean? Because I'm doing a photo shoot, that's why. Normally, you can see my nose kind of scrunched up as butter and sugar are flung about. My expression quickly melts into a smile when Selene takes a peek at me so I don't break her spirits, and then I go right back to a horrified nose scrunch. Completely normal. Let them make their mess and you make your mom face while they do it, but don't interrupt them. Let them be kids. 

Next, have your little one help you, very carefully, slice the puff pasty into four even strips. This part is easy for them to help with, as it's one even stroke per strip.They need to be thick enough to fold in half, because that's exactly what we will be doing with them.

You want to take your apple slices and overlap them, with the rounded edge peeking out of the puff pastry, from one side of a pastry strip to the other. Then, fold the pastry in half and slowly, carefully roll the apples and pastry in a clockwise motion until they have circled around. Voila! Apple rose!

Pop them in a greased muffin tin and   Bake at 375°F (190°C) for about 40-45 minutes.

Bon appetit!

Fun fact: I've been studying French on the train on my way to work every morning. I've been excelling, and thought I really must have a knack for learning languages... until I actually found the time to repeat the words aloud. Apparently I alone have the power to make French sound entirely un-romantic. Yay me.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Troublemaker Swing Dress - Vixen by Micheline Pitt

You have no idea how long I wanted the Troublemaker Swing Dress by Vixen.

 First, there's the stunning leopard print fabric. It's not easy to find a well done leopard print. They can range from cartoony to awkwardly shaded, so finding a retro dress in the right kind of leopard print is like a jewel mine.

Second, there's the sleeves! Living in Melbourne, Australia means chilly winters and unpredictable weather year round. I've said it before and I'll say it again: retro inspired dresses with comfortable long sleeves are few and far between. Unique Vintage is host to several such dresses, and then of course there's this particular dress.

One of my favourite things about Micheline Pitt's Vixen line is the quality. Now, I know I tend to only review clothing that is of high quality (besides some of my beloved inexpensive alternatives that I just can't resist!), but Micheline is the goddess of quality. If you are part of the Vixen's Salon on facebook, you can see how she regularly posts about quality control. She does little things like have her prints pinned and then perfectly aligning them together so that they are seamless when worn, and takes feedback from her customers and then makes actual adjustments in the next batch. She is also thorough about giving sizing advice and posts videos of herself wearing the clothing, testing the stretch/lack thereof, etc.

Now then, onto sizing.

I ordered a size extra small, as I have ordered a small in my past few items and found them too big on me. This one, however, I could have actually done a small in. It is made of a stretch crepe material, so though it's very stretchy, it's also quite firm. I have a size C bust, and being fairly petite at the moment means it's a smaller C. So, I'd almost identify as small chested at the moment. Were I any fuller in the bust, this dress may be uncomfortable.My measurements are 35", 24", 35". The arms and waist are perfectly comfortable.

I am an extra small in some clothing lines, and a small in others at the moment. I'd probably identify closest with a small, and therefore recommend ordering true to size. Also, note that the belt is very true to size!

The dress happens to match quite well with these Rock Your Baby pieces (now sold out), so we wore them on our weekly grocery shopping trip.

Tiny personal update!

I've been at my new job for a month now, and feel settled in. I've passed the worst of the learning curve that accompanies any new job, and no longer feel exhausted to the bones. That's fortunate, since University has started a new term.

I am taking Research Methods (Psychology) and Statistics II this term, so it should be information heavy. I'm getting my tablet repaired (Selene stepped on it ages ago) so that I can start studying on my lunch breaks. I am feeling torn in all directions at night, between preparing dinner, spending time with my girlies and catching up with my husband, and then sitting down to study. I feel that if I can get some of my reading done during the day (psychology courses are very book heavy), then that will help me balance better at home.

I've also started trying to eat better. Keyword is trying, as we seem to keep ending up at San Churro on the weekends. I know that my lacking energy levels has been due to my poor diet lately (not enough calories, too much diet soda, lots of veggies but hardly any fruit). I've been reading Dita Von Teese's "Beauty Mark", and though I am not one to follow celebrity diets, I love a few of her tips. She uses things like exotic mustards on chicken breasts instead of creamy sauces, and hot water with lemon and ginger in the mornings. She also eats mostly vegan throughout the day, and because I am a vegetarian, it's an ideal guide for me. I don't believe in following other people's diets obsessively, but I do see the good in gathering inspiration from like-minded individuals. So, hopefully I can eat a little healthier over the coming weeks and see my energy levels improve.

And lastly, I find myself falling in love with my girls so much more lately. Aurora's personality is really shining through of late. She is so sweet and gives the longest cuddles, and moments later can be found stomping her foot to get her way. She is extremely inquisitive and really studies people. Selene has been accepted to our chosen four-year-old kindergarten for next year, and blossoms by the day. Both of my little ones seem to be old souls (or so I've been told). I'm proud to call them mine...even when they make me want to pull my hair out, as they are so apt at doing.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll

Monday, 3 July 2017

Glamorous Loungewear by Jools Couture

I first came across Jools Couture a year or  so ago, but somehow the brand fell off of my radar before I could place an order. It is such a shame, as had I placed an order then and there, I would have had so many more pieces by now! From everyday retro clothing to glamorous, fur lined suits, Jools Couture has a little bit of everything - and what they have is done well. Not only that, but they are made right here in Australia!

I'll start with customer service. The team at Jools Couture are incredibly professional and very sweet, excelling at everything from branding to communication. They asked every form of measurement imaginable. because as a third generation corsetière, Jools has based her line upon high quality and the perfect fit. I was sent several items in line with my preferences. and was updated on my order status by the lovely team that heads up the social media.

I can remember searching far and wide for lounge wear that was both practical and pretty several months ago. I wanted something soft to the touch, comfortable, pretty enough to greet the mailman in and glamorous enough to align with my retro style. These pieces tick every one of those boxes. The attention to detail in something as private as sleep and lounge wear is second to none in comparison with other lounge wear brands I have tried.

I believe that, if glamour is important to you, you should include it in every aspect of your life. Much like a pretty matching lingerie set, having pretty sleep and lounge wear puts a little extra sparkle into your day. It sounds pretentious, I know - but I've had everything from ill-fitting sweatpants to beautiful lounge wear sets, and I can tell you that it makes a difference in your confidence levels.

Jools Couture has several original prints, two of which I was able to showcase in this post. The Sweethearts Bow Print is available across several pieces of daywear from the line, but here I am wearing it in the form of a soft knit PJ top. There are so many aspects to love here, from the thick black collar to the dainty velvet bow. I've worn this top so many times in the few weeks that I've had it, and I hope it comes out in more prints! My favourite element has to be the pretty tie in the back, which creates a peplum-esque shape and makes the top ultra flattering.

The top came with the Bardot Sleep Pant. I think we can all say we own black leggings or lounge pants in one form or another, but this piece is unlike anything else I own. It is so silky to the touch, and so incredibly comfortable. Jools has very sensitive skin - as do I. This means her pieces are all made with this in mind, and you won't find anything that isn't divine to touch in her line.

I am wearing a size medium in both the top and pants for this one. As with anything stretchy, I could have gone smaller, but I like how the medium feels. The ties on the top mean I can adjust the fit myself, and having a looser fit means it truly feels like comfortable PJs.


 Next up we have the JOOLS Signature Tearose Slip Dress. This one has been my daughter Aurora's favourite, and she's been playing with the pretty shoulder embellishments as she falls asleep. Who can blame her!

The dress itself, while loungewear, is of a higher quality than you will find in any modern clothing store today. The fabric is thick and stretchy, but feels silky to the touch. It is of a different make than the above outfit. and glides over the skin differently. 

The pleated details of the skirt are my favourite. They are very flirty and very demure. Like the Sweethearts Bow PJ Top, the Tearose Slip Dress ties in the back for a well-fitted sillouette. I am wearing a size Au 8 or a size small in this one, and it fits perfectly.Whilst this piece is custom made, there are many other items on the site in this beautiful print. 

 Lastly, I have the Harlow Slip in Silver Mist. The same fit can be found here, with a pink colour and different brooch!

This one is, hands down, my favourite. It reminds me of something like a silver version of Belle's dress from Beauty and the Beast. The ruching in the bust, the beautiful jewel at the center, the careful curve at the bottom of the waist...

This is made of the same fabric as the PJ set above, and everything about it is soft and comfortable. I can't wait for summer, when I can wear this more freely. There is something about a dash of unecessary glamour that suddenly feel so necessary. I don't feel like I need beautiful pajamas.. until I slip into one and feel like a princess. This is one of those pieces that you won't want to take off.


Besides their gorgeous pajamas, one of my favourite sets from the brand has to be the Screen Siren velvet, fur-lined bolero and skirt set. It reminds me of one of the outfits I used to dress my Barbies in as a little girl. There is something about retro style that encapsulates many of the fashion ideals some of us strived towards as children, and it is these unique pieces that encompass that ideal.

Finally, I'd like to share a video of these pieces! I've had several requests to do videos over the years, so I thought now would be perfect timing to give it a try.

I'd like to thank the team a Jools Couture for these beautiful pieces, and my readers for (well..) reading! For a short time, the team were kind enough to offer my followers a discount on any full priced items on the Jools site! Just use BETTYDOLL30 to receive 30% off your order. Discounts like these are especially exciting with higher end brands like this, because it means you can grab an item or two and make extra sure you love it before fully investing into a pricier brand - but trust me, you'll want more. I know I do.

xo Miss Betty Doll


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Top 5 Ways to Balance It All

If we were to describe this generation in one word, it would probably be "busy". Even when we are sitting around, seemingly doing nothing, we are probably connecting, virtually, with people all over the world. Couple that with the cost of living and extended working hours, with online schools and parents who want to "have it all", and you have the very essence of busy. Combine all of this with the bombardment we face every day of noise, pressure, and people, and you can add "stressed" into the mix of accurate describers for most of the people we know and love.

I feel that mothers, in particular, face a unique set of challenges in our busy world. We want to be educated. We want to have a successful career. We want to raise kind and loving children and spend time with them. But how? How do we take the pressures hurled at us on a daily basis and squeeze in everything we want to achieve?

Currently, I am working full time, raising a one and three year old, studying nearly full time, running a household and blogging. Many mothers are in similar boats. I've looked at the forums of my University and seen some women say that they wake up at 5am to squeeze in study time before work, so that they aren't missing out on time with their children.

These are the top few ways I squeeze a lot of activities into the hours I am given every day.

1. Recognise Your Limits

Prior to applying for a full time gig, I had a good think about what my current workload was like. I thought about how many units I was taking at University, how often I blog, how much time I wanted to spend with my children, and how much time I'd be able to take for myself. I made plans and alternatives for every single area of my life that is important to me. One was the blog itself - I asked my husband if he'd mind taking outfit photos for me when we were out with the girls, so that I could combine family time and blog time into one. Next, I worked out how much time I was spending on University per week and whether there would be charges if I decided to drop down to two or one classes from the three I was on (I ended up at two, and it's working wonderfully so far). I wrote down all of the tasks involved in running this household and split them evenly with my husband (who also works full time), and then decided I would hire a cleaner once a week if it came to be too much.

By having a thorough understanding of what I do day to day, how much energy I have and what makes me happy, I have been able to have a fairly balanced load.

2. Self Care

I can remember holding my mother's hand as a child and feeling how soft it was. She has always been meticulous about applying pretty-smelling hand lotions. Her hair was always done and her clothing always polished. Even as a very tiny girl, I recognized that she took better care of herself than many others did - and I respected it. I could see that the time she took to care for herself resulted in a more patient mother that had more quality time to dedicate to me.

A mother's tenancy is to sacrifice - Why buy clothes for myself when I can buy it for the kids? Why treat myself to a message when I could get my child a treat?

If you want to be the best mother you can be, you're going to have to fight that urge from time to time. Every couple of weeks, do a face mask. Put the kids to bed and take a Lush bath. Buy that pretty, lace lingerie set you've had your eye on. It's a little like the way we are told to put our own oxygen masks on before helping others - help yourself first, so that you are a whole, refreshed person that can actually help others in a meaningful way!

If you are squeezing a million and one tasks into a day and not taking any time for yourself, you are going to burn out. Those that consistently have a lot on their plate know what I am talking about - slurring words, running into walls, forgetting things. It's all a normal part of burnout, but burnout isn't normal! So don't let it happen. Take time to breathe.

3. Routine

Routine is very important for getting the most out of a busy day. Most days, I wake up, go to work in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, come home, make dinner, play with my girls, do their bedtime routine, and then sit down to study at 8pm. No one messes with my study time. I have my pretty Cinderella coffee mug full of hot coffee, my music and my blanket that I keep near the computer on chilly nights. All of those things signal to my body that it's time to settle down and study.

If you have commitments outside of work, and you want to keep up with them, generally doing it "now and then" isn't quite enough. Make special time for each area of your life.

4. Family Time

For mothers who work full time, we live for the weekend in ways we never did before children. Weekend means family time. Make it good quality family time!! Don't sit around the house all weekend. Go somewhere and do something.

I follow a blog called Mama Knows West, and it has great ideas about all kids of child-friendly activities and food hot spots that we often go to.  I can guarantee you there is a similar resource for just about any place you might live - especially for those of you in the US. Ah, the beauty of the internet.

 (Us at Fairy Park a few weeks ago. We had an amazing day, and it made going to work that Monday much easier!)

5. Coping

I was lucky to study coping last term at University, because I learned a few concepts that are actually easy to explain to a wider audience. Coping is an invaluable tool when, well, adulting. It goes something like this: the more positive and kind you are, the more likely you are to engage in proactive coping. Proactive coping is when you view problems as challenges. You welcome problems. You embrace them, because you know you will grow.

For example - I started my new job a few weeks ago. I'm learning both the recruitment industry and the IT industry all at once. It's daunting, and I'm studying and raising children on top of it all. I have also had family emergency after family emergency happen, and I am grieving several things at once this year. I'm tired. I really am. So, I could view this season in life in two ways: as an overwhelming time in which I have more on my plate than I ever have in my life, OR, as an opportunity to grow and learn things I never would have before, had I not chosen this path. I choose the latter, every single day. I proactively meet the daily challenges I face. I see them coming and say "bring it on", because I know I will grow and be a better person afterwards.

I have yet to meet an amazing person who has had everything in life handed to them. Every beautiful person I know - every person with depth and courage and wisdom - has been through much, and knows what it is to feel tired in your bones. It's how to do a real world "level up". So, whether you are balancing a thousand commitments, a new mother with no sleep and a beautiful baby that you have no idea how to raise (completely normal by the way - none of us know what we are doing!), or you've had some emotional baggage that you can't get rid of, bear in mind that it all starts with you and your own mindset! You got this because you choose to!

I've been getting comments and messages for ages, asking me to do a post on "how I do it". I honestly don't think I do anything that out of the ordinary, I just have many things, all at once, that I am determined to accomplish. Either way, I really hope this helps! If any of you want more detail or have a blog request, I'd love to hear about it :)

Thanks for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll

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