28 November 2015

Play-to-night


When Luxemme sent me their gorgeous khaki wrap playsuit to wear, the first thing I wanted to do was create a day-to-night look. 

A playsuit is so easy to dress down by adding a pair of boots and some chunky knits - and equally as easy to dress up with a pair of heels and a dramatic lip! I feel like they don't get enough credit for their versatility. So, here's to the humble playsuit! 

Dress it up






I loved dressing up the playsuit with a plum-hued lip and a vintage style floppy hat. I felt like I belonged in the Fourties. Maybe it's all the khaki?

And I don't usually wear plunge necks (I get a little self-conscious about the boob sitch), but this beauty is a game changer.




Dress it down






What I wore

Playsuit - Luxemme | Coat - New Look | Over the knee boots - Next (sold out - similar & cheaper here) | Ankle boots - Clarks (in the sale!) | Hats - Primark


Side note: I hate it when you fall in love with something on a blog, realise it's incredibly expensive and know that buying it would mean giving up eating for the two months. Pining over things I can't afford is an affliction I live with on a daily basis. I would never do this to you, so everything you see here is very much affordable.

What do you think of the plunge neck playsuit? I already have my eye on Luxemme's cape dress - how gorgeous would that be for the Christmas parties? 
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22 November 2015

Beaulieu and Brockenhurst







Into the woods


A few weekends ago, I took a trip to the New Forest with my good friend and ex-housemate Rich. He happens to be pretty bloomin' good with a camera, so I nabbed a few Autumn-themed outfit snaps for my blog. It was the perfect opportunity to bust out my thick knits and tartan cape, and pose alongside the rust-hued foliage.

Our first stop was at Beaulieu, a little village in the east of the forest. Imagine quaint shops, old pubs and droves of donkeys causally roaming the streets. Seriously - those donkeys are absolutely everywhere.

We decided to pop into a pub/restaurant for Sunday lunch and there was a donkey blocking the entrance. Rich managed to get a photo just before the donkey wedged himself in the doorway. Have you ever had to inch past a donkey's face to reach your lunch? It was certainly an experience.

After some hearty pub grub, we drove to Brockenhurst for a woodland walk. It was a beautifully Autumnal scene - and reminded me to pop over to the New Forest more often.  I always forget how many stunning places are just a short drive away. It had everything I could have wished for - bridges over bubbling brooks, amber leaves, horses to nervously edge past whilst Rich clicked away on his camera, and even a hot chocolate at the end.

Thanks for the gorgeous photos Rich!

What I wore


Jeans - Topshop | Cape - New Look | Boots - Next | Jumper - Next (similar here) | Hat - New Look







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31 October 2015

Creepy doll make-up tutorial


Happy Halloween!

How are you celebrating tonight? Will it be a costume party? A night-in with popcorn, a carved pumpkin and your favourite scary movie? Or will you be hiding in bed until it's all over? 

I've been listening to my Halloween playlist on repeat this week, so it's fair to say I'm in the spooky spirit. Something ghoulish simply had to go on the blog. 

So, after last year's costume extravaganza, I thought I'd focus on a make-up tutorial. And, as luck would have it, my little sister has started to get into special effects make-up. In fact, she's just started her own YouTube channel, The Purple Orange Project, as a hub for all things creative. Her first video is a Halloween make-up tutorial -  you can watch her create a rather gruesome stitches effect on her wrist.

I thought it was really cool. So I asked her to create something similar, but on my face.

I think our special effects session would have made a hilarious video - but we were feeling pretty tired this evening and editing a few photos seemed a lot less effort than editing a video! Maybe next time, eh?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin.

Step one: Wax


Kate's using Snazaroo wax, which she informs me is incredibly cheap to buy from Amazon. It's also surprisingly simple to use!

Just take a small amount, roll it around in your hand until it's warm and pliable and then mould it into a sausage shape. Kate then stuck it to my face and smoothed down the sides until I had a waxy line on each cheek.  She then grabbed my foundation and added a layer to each cheek, to blend the wax in with the rest of my face. 

Then all you need is a pointy implement to create a line down the middle of your face wax (see picture). Kate used a tiny whisk. I don't know where she gets these things from. 

Paint inside the dent you've just created with a dark face paint (we used black). It doesn't have to be particularly neat. 




Step two: Staples


I think the technical term here is: 'pull the ends off a few staples and bang what's left on your face'. Then paint a small black dot at the top and bottom of each staple stitch to make them look like they've gone through the skin (ew). 


Step three: Crazy face


Now you're free to play with the rest of the make-up. We went for a classically creepy dark eyes and lips.

Before you jump in with the black eyeshadow, decide whether you're going to be a sweet stitched creation, like Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, or a creepy, dark doll. I looked kind of sweet until the black eye make-up came out. Then I definitely joined the dark side.

And once you're happy with your make-up, you're done! This look is incredibly quick - but looks hella creepy! Side note: the wax comes off really easily - you can literally wipe it away with tissues! Great news, because there's nothing worse than lingering Halloween make-up. 




Wow, I even scared myself a little there. I think it was mostly from editing the close-up shots of my face.

Have a fantastic Halloween - let me know what you've got planned in the comments! If you attempt a creepy doll look tonight, let us know on Twitter! @nikki_mcmullen and @officialtpop xx
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23 October 2015

Being teetotal

Hi, I’m Nikki, and I don’t drink. 

That’s not usually how I introduce myself, I promise. But after reading all the Go Sober for October statuses and tweets, I felt it was time to broach the subject on my blog. But it’s a bit of a weird, personal one, so bear with me… 


My story

I’ve been teetotal since I was a teenager. Whenever I tell people this, the first thing they want to know is why. I'm imagining you're wondering the same thing. It's a fair enough question - and I have a lot of different answers:
  • I’m a bit of an odd’un. For me, drinking results in almost instant nausea and dizziness - which isn’t usually a recipe for a fun time. 
  • I was never really into the taste and wasn't bothered enough about drinking it to push past the barrier (ditto coffee). 
  • I was quite a nervous teen - and drinking made me super anxious. 
  • I’ve got the sober personality of a drunk Sorority girl. There is absolutely no need to add alcohol to that mix. 
  • After not drinking for most of my teenage years and the whole of University (except the odd sip of Pimms and Quad-Vod) it’s just become a part of who I am. 
These answers are all true. But they’re not very exciting, are they? 

So I’m not always truthful with my answers - because, just occasionally, it’s more fun to lie. Especially if the person asking is annoying me. Here’s a few of my favourite responses: 
  • ‘I have an addictive personalty. I’ve been sober for fifteen years now’ (cue puzzled faces as they mentally subtract a decade and a half from my baby face). 
  • ‘It’s against my religion - I’m a mormon.’
  •  ‘I’m on some pretty strong medication right now…’ (feel free to go into the details of your mystery illness here)
Although I mostly just avoid having to explain. Life is much easier when people think you’re drunk. And they do. Most of the time. 

But I don’t really mind that. I'm quite proud of the fact I can go out and enjoy myself without drinking. I enjoy blending in with the drunkards. 

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips for surviving sobriety. Whether you’re thinking about trying Dry January, you fancy a night out sans hangover, or if you’re just curious, enjoy: 

Nikki's Top Tips for Surviving Sobriety


The other drunks


When I talk about not drinking with my friends who do drink (i.e. everyone who isn’t me), their biggest concern is about hanging out with other drunk people. 'They must be unbearable if you’re sober!' they worry.

Well, let me tell you, hanging out with drinkers is all about perception. If you think of drunk people as annoying, they’ll be annoying. Approach the situation with humour (drunks are basically giant babies with slightly worse coordination) and you’ll possibly have one of the funniest evenings of your life. 

My advice? Just join in. 

Sing out-of-tune with all the songs, run down the street, dance like a maniac (I do this one a little too well) and insist on greasy junk food at 2am.  

Drunk conversations can also be hilarious. I do like an abstract chat that defies logic, social convention and moral barriers. Hands up who ever’s reached the 10 minute point in a conversation before realising the other person is drunk… Just me?

Remember the benefits


After 6 years of nights out, I’ve compiled a little list of all the non-drinking benefits: 
  • No hangovers. 
  • No vomming in your hair at 1am. Stay classy, guys. 
  • Saving money. Like, a lot of money. 
  • You’ll sleep better. 
  • You’re generally a bit healthier (I’d really hate to see the state of a drinking-Nikki in that case). 
  • You’re normally the one with the camera full of potential blackmail. I’m not suggesting you blackmail your friends. But y’know, if you had to, you could. 
I cannot guarantee no regret. I’ve yet to log onto Facebook after a night out and not cringe at a photo of me. There's at least two videos of me rapping. To Eminem. And Lady Sovereign. Whilst wearing pyjamas. And that was only last month.

So, maybe you won't have a night of no embarrassing moments. But at least you’ll remember it clearly.

Grab yourself something delicious! 


Guys, you’re not limited to water or soda. Most bars offer some pretty tasty non-alcoholic alternatives. I’m no mocktail master, but here are a few good recipes I’ve spotted on Pinterest, just incase you find yourself hankering after a tasty non-alcoholic bevvie.


I won't judge you, so don't judge me


I'm the only teetotaller I know. And although being sober has been incredibly easy for me, there's still a few difficult moments.

There are the times you get included in a round at the bar before you've had a chance to explain you don't drink (and once people have started necking Jaeger Bombs, it's totally the wrong time to tell 'em), there's the people that don't understand and think you're a massive weirdo, the people that make it their life's mission to get you drunk (bellends, as they're otherwise known), and the people who get super self-conscious and worry that you'll judge them.

I find the last one the hardest sometimes because, I swear, I never judge. The thought 'God, that person is awfully drunk' has never crossed my mind. I enjoy it when you start talking slightly too loudly, get a bit over-emotional and huggy, dance like a lunatic (hey, I'm doing that too) and I won't even notice when you repeat yourself. 

So, I won't judge you. And hopefully you won't judge me either.  

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9 September 2015

20 reasons to get excited for Autumn

September divides us into two tribes. There are those who can't bear to see the Summer end and become the mardiest of bums once the first leaves of Autumn fall. They crave sunshine, so the thought of hibernating during the dark evenings and hiding their perfectly bronzed pins behind 80 denier is abhorrent.

The others, bless their cottons, have been waiting patiently for Summer to finish. They can't wait to stow away their Factor 50 and bust out their extensive knitwear collection. Our Autumn lovers are much happier prancing around the fallen leaves in Chelsea boots, catching up on Netflix, and relaxing to the sound of rain on their window panes.

So, whether you're a sunshine child who needs a little reminder of all the fabulous things coming your way, or you're an autumnal hibernator who just loves a good list, take a look at my 20 reasons to get excited for Autumn!


1. The long evenings were made for Netflix. It's dark outside, what else is there to do but curl up in a blanket, binge-watching your favourite shows?

2. Let's bake! Maybe we need something warm to counteract the chilly evenings stretching ahead of us - or perhaps it's some kind of hypnotism from Paul Hollywood's piercing blue peepers every Wednesday night - but Autumn is definitely the season for baking. Whether it's a double chocolate fudge cake (yes), apple crumble or gingerbread, make something delicious. If baking isn't your forte, try my fool-proof chocolate chip cookies! You can't mess them up.


3. Get reading. Autumn is the perfect time to catch up on those books you've been meaning to read. Get cosy and lose yourself in the pages of something wonderful! I'll be making a must-read list to share on here if you need a bit of inspiration. Bring on those rainy days.

4. No more Summer hazards. As much as I imagine Summer to be the season of sitting in the sun, relaxing by the beach and getting bronzed, it is also the time of sunburn, rogue wasps and bug bites. And the last time I looked directly at my pale pins, I nearly blinded myself. Summer can be dangerous, man. 

5. Hot chocolate. Iced frappes and fruity smoothies are pretty good, but nothing beats a hot chocolate topped with a mountain of whipped cream and sprinkled with mini marshmallows.


6. #NoFilter. What's more beautiful than a technicolour blanket of crunchy leaves? Instagram never looked so good!

7. Comfort food. Hearty stews, delicious soups served with fresh crusty bread and - most importantly - the classic Sunday roast. Unbeatable. 

8. Trick or Treat? I still love Halloween. Any excuse to bust out the spooky Spotify playlists (yes, I have one) and scary movies, carve pumpkins, get dressed up for parties and eat all the sweets. But maybe I won't go quite so crazy on the costumes this year...


9. Snuggle up. 'Tis the season for cuddling in front of the fireplace. And there's nothing I love more than donning a pair of thick, fluffy socks and cocooning myself in a blanket. These teddy bear throws are my favourite. 

10. New wardrobe. Autumn clothes are simply the best! Cosy cable knits, blanket-capes, ankle boots, knee socks, leather jackets, oversized fedoras and beanies are sartorial heaven to me. Oh - and all things burgundy - from my lipstick and nails to these suede shoe-boots of my dreams. 



11. Bubble baths. Okay, you could have a bubble bath in Summer - but soaking in the tub is so much more satisfying when it's cold outside. Bonus points for anyone who lights candles and plays music for an epic bathing session.

12. New seasons. For once I'm not talking about fashion, I'm talking about TV! Get the popcorn ready, there are so many series heading our way this month. I'm very excited about seeing new episodes of The Mindy Project, Big Bang Theory, Fresh Meat and Peep Show. And I reckon Marvel's Jessica Jones will be pretty good too! What are you most looking forward to watching?

13. Crisp country walks. I need to take full advantage of living in Dorset and get out for some country walks. Old Harry Rocks, Lulworth Cove and the New Forest are just a few of the local beauty spots to visit - do I sense some beautifully shot blog posts coming your way? Exercise seems so much more bearable when imagined in chunky scarves and cute hats. And the air smells extra delicious in October, doesn't it?


14. Bye-bye bikini bod. I never actually got round to getting one of those. Somehow my inherent laziness and addiction to chocolate got in the way. But now I can let go of that last morsel of guilt and any pangs of paranoia about foisting my pasty flesh on the unsuspecting public. Now it's all about the Autumn body - achievable by gorging on hearty meals and taking brisk country walks. Much more manageable.

15. Fireworks. I love the Autumnal social calendar. As soon as you come down from Halloween's sugar rush, you have toffee apples, sparklers and fireworks to look forward to! This year I might actually watch the display instead of trying to photograph it.


16. Wellies. I can't pretend Autumn is all golden sunlight streaming past amber coloured leaves (I might just be imagining the front cover of When Harry Met Sally, actually). It will rain. But if you buy a fun pair of wellies, you can spend the afternoon splashing in puddles and jumping in piles of leaves! 

17. Bed. The clocks will be changing before we know it - I'm already excited about that an extra hour in bed. Long lie-ins generally become a lot easier, as there's no more direct sunlight shining on your face at 7am. With all that extra time spent snoozing, I think it's time to invest in some fancy bedding. (Yep, those are my cat babies!)


18. Thanksgiving? Before you give me that 'really, Nikki?' look, apparently one-in-six Brits now celebrate Thanksgiving. This year, I'll be having my first taste of the holiday, courtesy of my friend ZoĆ«. She's all about grabbing the opportunity to share a delicious meal with her nearest and dearest. I'm game - anything for turkey and sweet potato!

19. Put pen to paper. NaNoWriMo is coming up! Looking confused? It's short for National Novel Writing Month, and it's in November. As my ultimate goal in life is to write a book, I can't think of a better time to get started. And I've got two months to plan! Even if you're not into writing, the extra time spent indoors is a great excuse to get creative.

20. The build up. As the last firework of Bonfire Night evaporates into the ether, you feel a chill in the air. Change is afoot. All thoughts of cosy sweaters, fluffy socks and cinnamon sticks are replaced by festive jumpers, stockings and candy canes. Ah, Christmas, the season of  presents, good food, fairy lights... Oh... too soon for the C-word?

I can find a few reasons to get enthused about any season, but I think the warm, cosy vibes of Autumn have cinched the deal - it's my favourite! What are you most looking forward to? x
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9 August 2015

Summer nights


Have you noticed any changes to the layout and header?

You did?

I'm so glad!

I can't stop looking at it. I'm actually in love with the new design. The illustrated header was made by the incredibly talented Ella Masters - do check her out!

But back to blogging, I've got a bit of a throwback post for you today.

These photos were taken about a year ago, before I created Nikki's Notebook. Although they appeared on my old blog, it seemed a shame not to share them here too!





Seaside lovin'


I'm frequently jealous of my big city-dwelling blogger counterparts. The seemingly endless array of white brick town houses used as elegant backdrops, the absolute plethora of shops right on their doorstep and the local events (which always come with goody bags) to fill their blogging schedules are quite enough to turn me green with envy. 

That is, until I remember I have the beach*

I blooming love having sand, sea, ice-cream kiosks and the promise of tranquillity so nearby. 

*There's also horrendous Underground queues (where I learned I was a bit claustrophobic... and people-phobic), the barrage of bodies on the street (live bodies, obviously, but it's still a bit scary) and the sky-high rent to put me off London living. 






Fairy lights, sand and chips


These photos were taken in Swanage, which I will summarise as the land of fairy lights, sand and chips. It's an unusual combination, I'll grant you. But one I'm terribly fond of. 

For me, Swanage is a Summerly pilgrimage. I'll hike my way there (metaphorically, obviously) to guzzle a portion of chips the size of a small country, take a walk around the harbour and visit some of the town's beautifully strange shops (if it doesn't sell bunting, sweets, wacky sunglasses or an unnecessarily large array of rocks, I'm simply not interested). 

I haven't managed to visit this year, so hopefully I'll be doing that soon! I'll resist the urge to blog. There's only so much Swanage the internet can handle. 

It's easy to be wistful about these photos, but I'm fairly confident I was feeling a bit awkward at the time. Floppy hats at the coast are seriously dangerous territory - one unexpected gust of wind and you find yourself chasing a burgundy breakaway down the street. I think I also worried about my skimpy choice of top - maybe it should have stayed on Olivia Newton-John in Grease... 








Writing this has given me some serious hair envy. Why isn't it all long and curly now? Should I get a fringe again?

Next post will be coming straight from 2015, promise!
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