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Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Meaning of Motherhood (and Blush Floral Prints)

Martin and the girls blessed me with such a beautiful Mother's Day. They got me gift vouchers to the spa, and took me out for two different lunches and a gorgeous crepe cake dessert. 

Following Mother's Day, one topic that has been on my mind a lot lately is the meaning of motherhood. You see, I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who dedicated much of her time to domestic duties. She was a pseudo-parent to many of my friends, created lunches for my father that were the envy of all of his co-workers, and home-schooled my brother and I for half of our school years. She was, and is, my Suzie Homemaker, domestic goddess of a mother, and I appreciated every bit of it growing up.

During my couple of years of maternity leave with my girls, I was able to pick up that torch and run with it. My husband has come home, more times than I can count, to me breast-feeding a baby with one arm and mixing a cake with the other. I was never a typical stay-at-home-mom, as I never really stayed at home long, but I loved all of it. I'd get up in the mornings and meet a fellow mama at a cafe, and then spend my afternoons cleaning and organising and being with my daughters. I worked part-time between babies, and thought I would be part-time until both were in school. 

After choosing to return to work full-time when Aurora was a year and a half old, our lives all changed forever. I now cook a couple of times a week instead of every night, play a lot of catch-up on chores on the weekends, and can often be caught falling asleep at my computer when I study at night. 

Honestly, the first 6 months of being full time caused me a lot of heartache. Last year was very difficult anyway, with so many family deaths and hardships, but being away from my babies was especially painful. But about 6 months into being full-time, I finally felt myself adjust. My husband and I found our rhythm, Selene started to understand why mommy was away from home more often, the added finances started to result in the most beautiful weekend outings and I found ways to fit in my baking days with the girls. 

Mostly, though, I made a conscious effort to release the guilt. I am studying a very difficult degree, full-time at night with no assistance, I am working in a high-stress (but ever rewarding) field, I am running a blog. And still I have allowed myself to feel like I am not enough - like I should be playing with them more often, cooking more often, being more patient, organising my time better.. the list goes on. And why? Why do mothers allow ourselves to feel so much guilt? Why, when we are working so hard to provide the best lives we can for our families, be it via being a homemaker or working full-time outside the home. 

Lately, Selene has been watching me when I'm not looking, and making the sweetest comments. "Mommy, you make the best food". "Mommy, you always buy me beautiful dresses". "Mommy, you work really hard". It's as if she knows. 

So, fellow mamas - as the warm and fuzzy feelings leftover from Mother's Day's spoiling starts to fade away, I want you to be kind to yourself. There is no one kind of mother. There is no one kind of family. And there should be no guilt, no shame in the way you choose to parent. You, wherever you are, are doing an astounding job, and your children see - even when they are throwing mashed potatoes on the floor or whining for a new toy or whatever cheeky business they are getting up to that day. They know. 

And the answer to that question, what is motherhood?: it is the self-sacrificing, resilient, sleep-evading, unconditional loving persona in all of us - no matter how you choose to mother.

I am wearing a Blush Floral dress by Stop Staring, which is currently sold out. The same print is available in an equally beautiful dress here. Half of my office wardrobe is made up of Stop Staring dresses, and I have my eye on a few more!

The girls are wearing these gorgeous dresses here by Arabella and Rose! I love their clothing and need to fill their wardrobes with several more of their dresses. 

Thank you so much for reading <3

Miss Betty Doll


Saturday, 28 April 2018

Transeasonal Wear - Autumn is here!

First of all, I'd like to give a giant thank you to the beautiful Brooke from Brooke Orchard Photography. I'm so honored to have worked with her again and can't wait to make more magic together this year!

Melbourne has one of the trickiest climates in which to navigate transeasonal wear. There's the constant wind and rain and unpredictable temperatures. You could be shivering at 8am and fanning yourself by 1pm. It's for this reason that I bring you my guide to Autumn fashion, which will double as winter wear in some warmer climates like California.

First of all, let's start with layering. I have a Mak cardigan in just about every colour, and they've done wonders for my wardrobe. There are many places to purchase them, but my favourite is still Le Bomb Shop, which carries them in every colour. You can grab them here. They are very light and provide just enough coverage to keep you warm and help with layering for unpredictable weather. Not to mention they make many outfits office-friendly. 

Secondly, I can't suggest a good leather jacket enough. Being a vegetarian, I always purchase vegan leather. Luckily, this makes my "leather" jackets more inexpensive, so I have quite a collection. 

Here are a few of my favourites that I either own or have my eye on:

Next, capes are working so well for me this season. They are one of those items that give an outfit an instant lift. I particularly love the Sabrina Cape by Dolly and Dotty, as it's light weight and cropped at just the right length. 

Finally, gloves are a must-have for an autumn wardrobe - especially to accompany capes. They add an instant autumnal shift to your wardrobe. Forever new here in Australia has been a favourite glove destination of mine for years, but there are many others.

Asos (just search "gloves" on the Asos website for your country)

What are your favourite transeasonal pieces?

xo Miss Betty Doll

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Flower Festivals and Cherry Dresses - The Ellad Swing Dress in Cherry Print by Stop Staring

Melbourne never has a shortage of events to attend. From festivals and markets to ballets and art exhibitions, we've never had trouble staying busy here. Which is a good thing, as I love adventure. 

The Festival of Flowers in Victoria was absolutely stunning this year. We ended up going fairly late in the day, but were still able to explore all it had to offer. The festival (which has now ended!) is a couple of hours outside of the CBD. There was a fairy village, food trucks and flowers as far as the eye could see. 

Knowing this would be one of the last sunny weekends Melbourne had to offer before Autumn really kicks in, the girls and I wore matching cherry dresses. Mine is from Stop Staring, and it worked well with the pretty surrounds. 

This is the first time I'd worn this flutter-sleeve style, called the Ellad Dress. It's also available in an all too appropriate Tulip Print

I must say I love this one. I had it taken up as it's a dress I can only see myself wearing on very warm days. The flutter sleeves would prove bulky under a cardigan, I feel, and the gorgeous print alone makes it the perfect Spring/Summer style. I'm glad I did, as the girls and I ended up spending the better part of an hour running up and down the flower fields. 

The sleeves can be worn on or off the shoulder. I switched between both throughout the day, depending on how much literal running around I was doing. 

I am wearing the size small, or UK size 6. The waist is a smidge loose, but I've been wearing a little belt with it and it fits well overall! It proved to be the perfect dress for our family day out. 

The Ellad Dress in Cherry Print can be purchased here

xo, Miss Betty Doll


Sunday, 1 April 2018

Baking with Littles: Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Alright you beautiful American readers: if you have some last minute Easter baking to do, and have some cake mix and marshmallows laying around, I have a recipe for you!

This one has popped up in my pinterest feed so many times I'm not sure who the original poster was, but I just love this idea. Selene and I threw this together a couple of days ago for our Good Friday dessert, and it was so easy. 

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

  • Boxed cake mix (any kind will do)
  • Buttercream frosting (recipe below)
  • Large white marshmallows
  • pink sugar crystals
  • pink edible beads

Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk (add more to desired consistency)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla bean
  1. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions and bake in cupcake tin for 10-12 minutes
  2. While cupcakes are baking, prepare frosting by mixing softened butter for 30 seconds and gradually adding the icing sugar, milk and vanilla. 
  3. Scoop into a pipping bag and use any large star tip to swirl on the frosting
  4. Cut marshmallows in half and dip the exposed insides of the marshmallows in the pink sugar crystals. 
  5. Enjoy your super easy bunny cupcakes!
Make this recipe littles friendly by having your little one dip the marshmallows in the sugar crystals or mix the cake mix with you. 

We spent our Easter weekend at the National Gallery of Victoria, and it was stunning! Today we trialled out V Junior, which is a child-friendly movie experience by Village Cinemas here in Australia. There is a giant slide down the side, legos to play and staff to cater for you throughout. I hadn't expected either experience to go as well as it did, from the free holiday weekend entry at the gallery to the special care at the movies. I'm so thankful I get another day with the girls and my hubby tomorrow. 

Easter outfits are always tricky in Melbourne. I'm used to my Northern Hemisphere seasons from back in the US, with Easter falling in springtime. Easter here in Australia is well into autumn, so it can be nice weather or freezing (like last year). This year it was beautiful, so I threw on my Collectif Clothing dress last minute (see review here) because it matched so well with Selene and Aurora's dresses from Arabella and Rose


As a side note... I have to say how incredibly thankful I am for this community of (mostly!) women. I know I'm not alone when I say how uplifting you all are. Social media can be an all-consuming spiral that sucks up your time and leaves you wanting, but the ladies of the pinup community have all been extra special. 

I've had days over the past few weeks where my university assignments have piled up, work has consumed every aspect of my life and I've come home so tired I can barely stand. Like most women, I often doubt myself as a mother and fight the mom guilt that plagues most of us. And then I hop on my instagram account and see words of encouragement from gorgeous women whom I've never even met. Some I've encouraged myself, some whom I hadn't had the pleasure of speaking to until then. In an age where what it means to be a woman, a mother (or not!), a wife (or not!) and where the very meaning of feminism is constantly changed, I'm so thankful to be part of a network of supportive women. 

Bettie Von Sweetz, the maker of the gorgeous aprons Selene and I are wearing, is one of those women. If you are in need of a one-of-a-kind creation with all the glitz and glamour a girl can muster, head over to her Etsy page here! She puts more love into her apron designs than I ever thought possible. I cherish mine every time I pull them out to do some baking, and I know you will too!

Thank you so much for reading!

xo Miss Betty Doll

Thursday, 8 March 2018

For the Wonder Woman in Us All - Hollywood Honeys Activewear

I remember asking one of the Pinup Facebook Groups, years ago, if they would like to see a retro activewear blog post. There was a resounding "yes!", but I never quite got around to doing it. 

My choice of activewear has always been feminine prints and cuts of modern activewear. The clothing worn to the gyms of the 50's and 60's was impractical for our methods of working out in this day and age. That's what makes the Wonder Woman range of activewear by The House of Jools so perfect for the pinup community, an even more perfect to share with you on International Women's Day!

Last year, Jools released a more modern clothing range called Holleywood Honeys. This consists of modern basics with a glam twist, and the Wonder Woman range, in particular, is my favourite part. 
I am wearing a size 8, however I could have done with a size 6. Their activewear is quite stretchy, so I would suggest sizing down. 

The fabric is very breathable, and the range covers everything from gym shorts to long leggings. Here I am wearing the Full Length Leggings (here) and the Goddess Bra Top (here). There is also a Post Workout skirt (here), which you can pop on before or after errands. 

Personally, I workout better when I feel like I look good. I still walk out of the gym looking like a mess, and I certainly don't wear red lipstick to the gym on a normal day, but wearing something in line with my normal fashion sense helps me to feel like myself and focus on my workout.

So, ladies, if you want a cute alternative to your standard workout wear, go get yourself a little Holleywood Honeys in your closet! Click here to browse or purchase.

As for a personal update, I stopped working out throughout most of last year due to how busy everything got. I was flying back and forth from home to deal with family emergencies, started a new career path and caring for my little ones. This year, whilst everything is still insanely busy, I've found solice in my workouts. I'm naturally introverted - that's not to say I am shy, it just means I gather my energy from deep conversations and alone time with my own thoughts. Working in a job that requires a high level of conversation means a solo workout refreshes me. I've found better ways of balancing my studies tonight and still managed to scrape a couple of Distinctions from this latest term, so I'm hoping I can keep the workouts up!

With Selene having just turned 4 and Aurora soon to turn 2, I truly feel like my babies aren't my babies anymore. My mother was wise enough to raise me and my brother to be adults, meaning she taught us independence from an early age. I've done the same with my girls, so whilst they are showered with cuddles and kisses and encouragement, I speak to them with a recognition that they won't be little forever. I'm saddened by how quickly the years have passed, but I love the conversations I have with them now. I can't wait to see what the next year will bring with them.

Thank you so much for reading!

xo, Miss Betty Doll

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Mother Daughter Matching Outfits with Dungaree Dolly / Dolly Valentine

If you haven't been following Dungaree Dolly on instagram for the past several years, you have been seriously missing out! Beth "Dolly" Adams had the most adorable baby girl four years ago, and began selling gorgeous little baby headscarves not long afterwards. Her flair for photography and vintage style led to an instagram following that has now eventuated into a line of mommy and me skirts!

As you can see, we are absolutely thrilled with the result!

All skirts are custom made to order, so you can expect an excellent fit. Thick, stretch waistbands for the girls' skirts mean a comfortable fit, and the array of fabrics available will keep you coming back for more.

I chose the striped floral print, as I have nothing similar in my closet and knew it would become a cute keepsake for later.

And yes, ladies it has pockets. Massive pockets.

If you want a high-quality swing skirt of your own OR you want a gorgeous matching set with your little one, head over to the @dungareedolly instagram page or Etsy here for womens' and here for kids'. Beth is a delight to deal with and will keep you informed from your first contact to the moment the package lands on your doorstep.

Thank you so much for reading!

xo Miss Betty Doll

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Self Acceptance - Personality and That Red Lipstick

It's not very often I post much about what I am actually studying in any great depth; however, the past year has made it all so relevant that I thought I would share for anyone who may have had similar struggles and goals.

I've always been introverted and contradictory. I struggled with confidence a lot growing up, and didn't feel quite comfortable in my own skin. 

Over the past few years, I've done a lot more delving into how I work and why I work that way. As children, we would often ask "why" and then begin to reform the structure of our inner world around the answer. Self-discovery is a lot like that.

My studies have allowed me to delve into personality traits. I've learned things about myself that have helped me to understand what makes me tick and makes my heart happy. It's been wonderful. 

Of the many things I have learned to embrace, my memory with names is one. I have a terrible memory with the names of others upon a first encounter. I used to be embarrassed by it and try to hide it, but recently I asked myself "why" and realised it was because names, until I know something about the person they belong to, are often of little importance to me. I will remember someone's name if we've had a conversation of depth. Any conversation that goes beyond face value and digs a little deeper will trigger me to remember that person's name. 

I ran into someone recently, whom I had met before, who was insulted that I hadn't remembered their name. I replied that they should spend a few minutes with me and tell me about themselves, and then I would never forget it again. They were taken aback but did it, and I haven't forgotten their name since. It's in my inner wiring to crave in-depth conversation, and that's perfectly alright. So now, when I forget a name, I use it as an opportunity to get to know that person for a minute - I can't change who I am at that level, I can only control the circumstances surrounding it. 

I am also empathetic in the extreme. You can hurl the deepest insults and drag me through the mud, but I see you become sad about anything, even moments later, I feel that sadness right along with you. It's something I fought often when I was a little girl, right up through my earliest adult years. How "soft" it must seem to others, how juvenile... Now, I embrace it wholly as one of the most important aspects of my character. I use it professionally to gauge a room and connect with those I need to connect with, and personally with relationships. It's also part of what makes me, me, even if it's not a trait everyone can relate to. It's also damn useful and something I hope never changes.

Like anyone else, I've had my fair share of being told to change, that I was a little off, that I could be different and better. There is nothing more freeing than taking the time to discover who you are and being alright with it in that moment. We should always strive to grow and evolve our weaknesses and use them as strengths, but we should never be uncomfortable with who we are as a person. Personality is both inherent, and the result of how we've been shaped by every single moment in our lives. It's absolutely beautiful, incredibly unique, and never something to take for granted.

On the opposite side of the coin, I often see women talk about how their love of retro culture will be accepted in a modern world. Whether red lipstick is too garish or a full skirt will garner too much attention. Ladies, let me tell you, stop that!

Years ago, I had a manager notice I had worn false eyelashes to work for the first time. I remember her prodding me about it and rolling her eyes at me as she plopped back in her seat, mumbling about how silly it was. It took me years to get over the self-consciousness fostered in that moment, and realise how uncomfortable she must have been in her own skin. Now, I wear them without hesitation because I like how they look, without regard for whether or not it makes others happy. Maybe one day I'll stop, maybe I won't - but the artistry of it all is something I'd love to embrace for years to come. 

Whether it's your own fashion sense or your personality that you've been struggling with, I'd encourage you to take time out to reflect on why you love what you love and are who you are - and then embrace the hell out of it, because life is awfully short to force yourself into a mould that was never made for you to begin with. 

Thank you so much for reading!
xo Miss Betty Doll

Photography by the ever lovely Brooke Orchard Photography. We took these on a ridiculously windy day and look how she captured perfect moments anyway! She's amazing. 
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