Monday, 31 October 2011

Red October

I am not what you would call green-fingered, but when a colleague brought some tomato plants into work to give away earlier this summer, I decided to give it a go. I got myself down to the garden centre, bought a grow-bag, and away I went.

So, due to neglectful watering, and a night spent in a removal lorry, my plants were far from healthy, and yet miraculously, gave me a tasty (but humble) harvest. And who knew that I would still be picking them this late in the year?

October, you've been lovely. x

Dahlias, darling

I'd be hard pushed to tell you what my favourite flower is, but dahlias would definitely be on the shortlist. I love their loud, overblown colourfulness and big, bold shapes. I've loved them for years, since the good old days when you could buy them cheap in the greengrocers for £1.50 a bunch. They've become more popular in recent years and so of course that means more expensive, but they're still lemonade pocket-friendly, and last a good long time.

On my way to work, I pass a garden packed to the rafters with huge, multi-coloured dahlias, and it never fails to cheer me up and shake me out of my morning stupour. I stopped this morning to try and take a pic - I was battling with the mist slightly, but hope you get the idea.

Inspired, I've looked in every greengrocers and flower shop this side of the Chilterns, and there's not a dahlia to be purchased anywhere - should've pinched some from this person's garden (I was tempted...). The garden centre have told me that it's easy to grow your own, so I've bagsied a patch of Popeye's allotment, and come spring, I'll don my wellies and get digging. x

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Pulling strings

I've always had a bit of a thing about tins. My mum used this tin as "wrapping paper" for a present for my brother, and I pounced on the discarded tin with this project in mind: a string dispenser. I had seen one in a vintage gift shop for many pennies, and when I saw this tin, I reckoned it'd do nicely. All you need to do is put a hole in the top of the tin (I used a bradawl), thread the string through the hole, and job done.

There you go, all tied up x.

Candle, Candle Burning Bright

I'm a sucker for a scented candle. My all time favourites are by Diptyque. I love everything about them: the smell, the packaging, the branding, but not the price - £38 is a whole chunk of cash, for a single, solitary candle. If you're wanting to buy me a present and are stuck for ideas, this'll do nicely, ta. They are good quality though - even when un-lit they fragrance a room. This one is my favourite, a mix of rose and blackcurrant:
In a random job (I've had a few) a long time ago, I went on a Diptyque training session, and have been a loyal fan ever since. And whilst I had my staff discount, I indulged - here's the fruits of my labour in my living room:
And on a boring note - keep on top of your wick maintenance - it'll literally stop your hard earned money from going up in smoke. Trim regularly, so that the wick doesn't get too long, which results in black smoke marks up your walls. It'll also prevent uneven burning of the wax, which can make it burn too fast.

But back in the real world, I have searched elsewhere for my wax fix in an effort to spend less than the price of a pair of shoes on a candle, and TK Maxx has proved to be a trusty supplier. I am kept in plentiful supply of this vintage looking number by Tocca which can be as little as £6.99 - lovely packaging and good choice of fragrances too.
Another brand always at TK is Bahoma - you literally can't move in the candle section for these beauties, that are on average £5.99, and yet sell for £25.95 on the Bahoma website. They burn well and give a good strong smell, and I like the plain, unfussy clear glass votive. Black Fig is my favourite, and always easy to get hold of.

But if the thought of a visit to TK Maxx is too much, the La Maison de Senteurs candles by good old M&S are worth a fiver, and even have 25% off at the moment. I like the lavender one, which isn't "old lady" smelling at all:

Alternatively, if it's good enough for Her Majesty, it's good enough for me. Price's have been making candles for years, and I love the utility packaging and fresh, clean smell of their Open Window candle. You can pick it up in Waitrose for £4.95. Check out their Heritage range too.

Bargain basement award goes to Waitrose's Blossom Candle, from their Essential range, at a penny pinching £2.20. You've got to love that price point. Doesn't smell cheap, and looks tasteful in its plain glass votive. Doesn't last for quite as long as the others, or smell as strong, but for £2.20, you can't hold a candle to it (soz about the bad pun).
Go forth and purchase. x

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Fruits of my lunch hour

I love a good rummage in a charity shop, or what my Liverpool roots would have me refer to as a "chazzy" - the habit of adding an "e" to the end of every word is a hard one to shake, and a fond one to keep hold of. If you asked me what my hobbies are, chazzing would be top of my list.

So, I have moved many times in the past few years, and one benefit of this is finding new chazzing territory. My new job (been there a month now) has found me a fresh patch, and I had my first foray today, which rewarded me with this find:

Navy leather, with a 4 inch heel by Lilley & Skinner, with a subtle scalloped edge on the inner and outer of the shoe, for a mere £3. Winner. Lilley & Skinner gives me found memories of day trips to Southport, when mum would drag us into Russell & Bromley, where they stocked L&S, to have a good look through the sale racks. As she would say, they're a good make.

Happy chazzing x.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Boot-boots-boots-boots-movin' up an' down again

So, I am a big fan of the flat knee-high boot. They feature heavily in both my work and weekend wardrobes. It's flat boots and a (usually knee-length) skirt for the office, and flat boots and skinny jeans at the weekend. I have many pairs, but my tan pair from Zara and navy pair from Office get the most wear. However, the tan boots are on their last legs, and a replacement must be sought.

There are some strict criteria - the must be flat, they must be leather, and they must be fairly plain.

I have found my perfect pair: £140 (but I have a lovely friend with a lovely staff discount, so that's £105 to me. Still a fairly hefty price tag, but these boots are quality). They are called PRINCE2 Classic Riding Boot, and I love them in tan - just look at these beauties:

But here's the rub: I ordered them online and await my order with great anticipation. Then into my email pings a message from Topshop telling me they are now sold out. No matter, I soldier on, locate them via Topshop's online stock checker at Selfridges. Hot foot it to Selfridges - they haven't got them. I check the online stock checker again. They have them at their Knightsbridge store. I have been phoning off the hook to check stock with them but there is no answer.

The other boots I have been online stalking are these sand coloured, flat over-the-knee boots from Zara, called Flat Sole Boot XL. A steal at £69.99 but have been sold out in a 39 for ages. I check several times a day for stock updates, but there is no sign of this boot coming back. Zara, you've let me down.

In the meantime, here are some possible alternatives:

ASOS CLEO Leather Plain Long Leg Pull On Boots, for a bargainous £65

Porto Riding Boots from Schuh for £100

Nyrree Pull On Classic Boot from Ted Baker, in the sale at ASOS, for £120

Boots boots boots boots - will you ever be mine?