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I feel like I need to pinch myself, I just had the best magical birthday weekend and am definitely going to be crashing back down to earth with a double whammy of post-birthday and post-bank holiday blues any moment. I turned 2-9! To be honest, 27 was my worst of all years ever. 28 had sparkly shiny highlights (mostly Nick & travel related) but more than a fair sprinkling of health, family & life woes. 29 feels psychologically like I’m leaving my crummy late twenties behind and am now in a special stand-alone-year-countdown to thirty which should be packed with ensuring I do everything I ever wanted to by this milestone. I am slowly tick tick ticking off achievements and aims and feeling really positive about my impending new decade, no mid-mid-life crisis here thank you. Maybe it helps that a) I don’t read age fear-mongering women’s magazines and b) tons of my friends are 30+ or 40+ even, and are seemingly no different to 20+ers so it’s definitely only a number.

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My birthday celebrating actually started on Thursday (despite my birthday being on Saturday) as my eldest sister took me to The Wolsey for breakfast. This is something I’ve been desperate to do since moving to London but am glad I saved it for something super special. If you want to go and sample the famous Wolsey breakfast delights, be sure to BOOK in advance as it’s popular for a reason! The experience itself is decadent, in the grand dining room with sweeping staircases and swooping chandeliers. The menu is so extensive that it was near-impossible to decide what to eat. In the end I opted for a pot of (decaf) tea which came with a very nifty high-tech strainer, then we shared a basket of delicious mini pastries and then I had the eggs Alvington (their fanceh name for the one with smoked salmon) and it was definitely the best hollandaise of my LIFE. For someone who could eat hollandaise with every meal, this is quite a feat. The best thing about breakfast was the price actually! For such a special dining out, the prices aren’t much more than what you’d spend on an early morning splurge in Pret. It’s my sister’s birthday next month, so I have promised her an equally swish breakfast outing in return. Do you have any recommendations? Been anywhere wonderful? So far the Riding House Cafe menu is my plan A.

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It was a day for feeding my face, as I was later treated to a selection of tarts by my lovely work colleagues and a very impressively in-tune happy birthday serenade. Can I also take a moment to point out this raglan tee of dreams. I have always loved this style of top but hadn’t owned one until now; this is one I picked up in Madewell when hiding from the New York blizzard. The material is such soft jersey loveliness. I wish I’d hunted higher and lower for a few more as it’s now my go-to outfit with jeans, which almost feels as comfy as wearing PJs to work.

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On Friday I had a rare, glorious day off work and the sunshine put his hat on, especially for me! It was so excessively exciting to scamper about with bare legs, open toes and a tee-shirt dress, NO COAT! NO CARDIE! Saying that, I did spend most of the morning inside as I went for my first ever facial! Have you ever had one? I’m a total newbie but had some Spa vouchers as a bday treat and thought I’d opt for something brand new. I went to the Aveda spa in covent garden as I was drawn to their use of only naturally-derived products. Upon arrival I was led out of the chaos of their cafe and hair salon, and down into the underground tranquil Spa retreat. I have to admit I was a little bit nervous, but the first thing my facial therapist did was plunge my feet into soapy warm water and give them a massage whilst we chatted about my skin and what I was hoping for from the treatment. I then got into a huge bed, that was heated inside and I lay tucked in snug as a bug in a rug whilst my face and head was massaged, oiled, cleansed and endlessly exfoliated. It was so relaxing I nearly fell asleep a few times, until the steaming started. It was lovely at first but THEN my therapist started removing blackheads. OW! I was absolutely mortified, I didn’t know this was going to happen and wriggled around as she went to town on my face with a tweezer and some other unidentified equipment. Imagine that being your job?! I certainly was not expecting it. However it’s true what they say, no pain/no gain. My skin after has been baby smooth and dewy, although I had a few red blotches from the blackhead gate so I wouldn’t get this done the day before a party – like I did. Get it 3-4 days before to have time to recover the skin violation.

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Next was some gentler pampering, and my annual birthday manicure at Wah Nails. They currently have a pop-up at the amazing Box Park in Shoreditch, so I met up with my tres jolie pregnant cousin (she is due in 3 weeks and still dresses like she’s on a Parisian catwalk, I swear most women have embraced velour by this point!) and we spent an hour getting nail happy. If you haven’t ever had the Wah experience, DO IT! It’s a bit pricier than a standard french polish or plain polish, but the nails last at least a week …sometimes more. This year I opted for intergalactic, as I’m so obsessed with stars and constellations.

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My fro-yo obsession that has grown since my first experience in LA knows no bounds. My absolute favourite local joint is Snog, so on a dusky Friday night after stuffing our faces with cocktails and mini burgers in the Lucky Chip Slider Bar @ The Player, Nick & I stopped by for some Soho Snogging. I’m not quite sure how “guilt free” it is when you cover it in brownies and choc chips…

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My birthday present to myself was a blush pink Kanken, making the most of the current I Love My Kanken 15% discount. Hands up; my name is Bee and I am a Kanken addict. I would literally buy one in EVERY colour if I had the funds. Nick and I even had our first ever argument (!) over the fictitious scenario that if I win one in the million competitions I have resorted to entering, I wouldn’t give it to him (he doesn’t even have one) I’d just keep it ALL for myself. Perhaps by the grand old age of 29 I should be treating myself to “proper” handbags, but they just don’t make me as deliriously-happy as these backpack of dreams.

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On Saturday, my family and friends arrived from all corners of London and the UK for a party. However, this needs a post all of it’s own as it was a Wes Anderson themed party and the costumes were just so exquisite. If you follow me on instagram you will have got a sneak peek over the weekend. Sunday was a hungover slope of a day, with a giant diner breakfast and a walk with my brother around Camden market taking their toll and me ending up snoring away in bed by 9pm. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day; but we decided to hole up in Cineworld and rinse our unlimited cards by seeing Iron Man Three & The Place Beyond The Pines. IM3 was brilliant; I can’t believe a threequel can turn the super hero genre on it’s head so much! Messing with convention, twisting and turning, but not losing any of the action packed pase or cheesy one-liners. The Place Beyond the Pines was haunting and beautiful. I’ve read so many mixed reviews but I just found it captivating from start to finish. I’m a huge fan of the finer details, a geek for rewatching films repeatedly until I’ve spotted every hidden glance or mutter or meaning. The Place Beyond the Pines was packed with little nods to those who pay attention, and I really appreciated that. I’d give it 4*’s and place it up there in my films of 2013. If you’ve seen it, I really enjoyed Tea & Oatmeal’s review (and her blog in general).

More on my Wes-tastic Saturday soon…

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Welcome to the second ever Spotlight feature! After the delight that is Miss Earth vs The Wildheart set the precident, I had to hunt high and low for my next victim of nosey questions blogging beauty.

Step up Blair! Blair has been a friend and fashionspiration of mine for a few years now and has transferred her awesome taste in clothes, intricate knowledge of high street fashion and wonderful whimsical way with words to her very own blog –Blair On A Budget which in her words is all about my wardrobe, fashion inspirations and high-street shopping addiction. She’s also a bookworm like me!

Blair also recently had a bit of a to-do with More! Magazine and became a victim of when businesses using social networking can go wrong… You can read all about it here.

1. When did you start your blog & why?
I started the blog in March of this year. There were a few reasons why: I’d recently come out of a relationship and it was part of a ‘new start’ for me, as I’d always wanted somewhere to write publicly but never had chance. Once I had the idea of making it about fashion, I also realised I was hankering for somewhere to talk about what I’ve bought and show off my outfits, since I devote an unhealthy amount of time and thought to shopping! I really wanted to get back into writing on a regular basis, even if only about clothes, and felt that if anything else came out of it, that would be a bonus.

2. What inspired you in terms of content/theme/appearence?
Well, at first I wasn’t planning to create a fashion blog – at the time I set it up, election fever was in full swing and I was feeling quite opinionated about lots of political issues, and for a while I wanted to set up a blog focusing on politics and feminism. When I started researching this and reading more of the political blogs out there, though, I just came to the conclusion that there are so many people doing it better than I ever could and I don’t feel informed enough to write about politics with any authority. So I went for the easier option of a more personal fashion-related blog. My main inspiration, aside from my friends’ blogs, was probably Kingdom of Style as a) I love the content, the balance of pictures and text (I don’t like blogs that just have photos with no story behind the outfit) and b) Queen Michelle’s style is amazing! As for the appearance, I wanted to keep it simple because I find really fussy, complicated layouts distracting – the main objective of the layout is to make the blog readable.

3. How would you describe your blog in three words?
Cheap and cheerful?! I guess that works, because the whole idea of the blog’s theme (and slightly corny name) is that I love fashion but don’t have much money. I know this is true of lots of bloggers but I really wanted to make it an actual feature on mine – a quest for good, hopefully non-tacky style on the minimum wage.

    
4. What do you love (/if anything hate) about your blog?
I love the fact that it’s a continuing record of my life and the evolution of my style. When I’m older, I’ll have a whole collection of pictures of what I looked like and what I wore, plus what I was doing and thinking about, in my twenties. I love discovering interesting new blogs and people, finding style inspiration and getting involved in debates.
I hate the fact that I don’t get to post as much as I’d like, and that taking/editing/uploading photos and writing posts swallows so much time! I also do get a bit nervous sometimes about the fact that I’m putting so many pictures of myself and personal information on the internet, as you never know who’s reading, and I occasionally worry about people who know and dislike me in ‘real life’ finding it. But if I let that bother me then I wouldn’t be able to do it at all, so I just try and remind myself that it doesn’t actually matter at the end of the day.
    
5. What makes you the most happy and most sad?
Happy: ESCAPISM – getting absolutely lost in a great book, music that seems to express exactly how I feel, films and TV, shopping. Buying a new item of clothing and absolutely falling in love with it. When someone I have a crush on says something nice to me and I get that amazing warm feeling inside! Getting compliments on my writing. Travelling and seeing interesting new places. Spending time with my friends.
Sad: sorry to say it, but my crap job and nonexistent career 🙁 I’m not where I want to be work-wise and sometimes it frustrates me so much that I’m a) not doing a job that utilises any of my abilities or qualifications and b) so poorly paid. But you know, you’ve got to get on with it and hope for better things to come…

 6. Who is behind Blair on a Budget? 
I live in Yorkshire, which I love, and work in retail, which I don’t. I’m 25 years old and have a degree in Politics & International Relations. I have a passion for books and try to read as much as I can; I aim to read more books each year than the last, though I don’t get as much time to read as I’d like! I love historical fiction and stories with a touch of the magical or supernatural about them – anyone is welcome to add me on Goodreads as I also love writing reviews and reading others’. Music used to be a huge part of my life but it’s been sidelined in the past few years, so I’m stuck in a bit of a timewarp (from my teens to early twenties) with my musical taste! I will always adore the Smiths, Morrissey, Amy Winehouse and Hard-Fi; these days I often listen to Britpop and feel nostalgic about the 90s, and apart from that I enjoy a lot of classical music and film soundtracks. I’m sort of convinced I’m going to marry Steve Coogan. I’m borderline addicted to chocolate and expensive coffee. Most of this makes me sound horrendous!

 
    
8. Which others blogs do you feast on?
I love all my friends’ blogs – check the links in my sidebar! – but I’m particularly excited to see what Rosie and Adele do with theirs as they’ve only started blogging recently. Also Lila’s, Baby Got Books, as it’s something different – a book review blog, and I LOVE reading book reviews. As for fashion blogs, my favourite daily reads are Kingdom of Style , LLYMLRS, Style Scrapbook and Jak & Jil. Enemies of Reason is my favourite political blog and I always keep up with the hilarious Go Fug Yourself. I’m constantly finding fantastic new blogs to follow and some great recent discoveries are Young Shields, Romeo and the Lonely Girl and Look, Know
    
9. What is your all time favourite outfit?
As my style is constantly changing, it’s hard to pinpoint a favourite because sometimes I absolutely adore certain items for a few months and then look back on them and feel completely different. Looking through the outfits I’ve posted on my blog so far, I would probably have to go for these two variations on a theme – as they incorporate THE BEST JACKET EVER and a number of my favourite fashion things – ripped tops, skinny jeans (Topshop Jamie = the best), black leather, flat lace-up boots.
    
10. What are your plans to make this the best summer ever?
I’M GOING TO NEW YORK! That’s happening at the end of August so it’s sort of going into autumn really, but I’m looking forward to it so much so it still counts. Other than that, I just want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine as much as I can, for as long as it lasts. Go on daytrips and sit in parks instead of just staying inside and letting it all pass me by.

>>Thanks Blair for taking the time to suffer my interrigation… and the wonderful blog links. My google reader just almost collapsed in on itself with great new reads!

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