Wednesday, 30 November 2011

My Christmas List

Wanting to lavish me with gifts this year but have no idea where to start? Don't panic, here's a helping hand. Two trends seem to have emerged: I am keen on statement necklaces, and leather items.

Janne Business Card holder, £14 by Ordning & Reda from John Lewis
Stylish and practical
Suede City Bag in orange, £59.99 from Zara
Perfect size, lovely colour

Ruffle ribbon and gem necklace, £19 in the sale from Jigsaw
(hurry low stock!)

David Aubrey Chain Necklace, £44 in the sale from ASOS
I've recently discovered David Aubrey on ASOS
 - he has lots of nice stuff - worth checking it out

Caudalie Nourishing Body Lotion, £16.20 from John Lewis
Read more about my love for this product 

Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel, £17.46 from John Lewis
This has won a whole raft of awards -
time to try it, methinks

Ceremonials by Florence & the Machine
£13.97 from Amazon
Am liking your tunes, Flo

Aubrey Wallet / Clutch in Yellow, £29 from Not on the High Street

Mia Cleansing Brush by Clarisonic, £120 from Space NK
I'm a sucker for skincare, and this is apparently like an
electric toothbrush for the face - sold! Apparently there's
also a travel version which sounds just as good (bit smaller)
but cheaper, but can't find it online

Diptyque Baies Scented Candle, £35 from John Lewis
So flipping expensive, but I love these, and
go on about them all the time

Monday, 28 November 2011

Get the hint

Popeye came home the other day clutching these "Get the hint" post-it notes. I have been busy sticking them on anything and everything I might like for Christmas. The main targets have been products that I'm running out of, candles which are burning down, and lots and lots of pages in magazines.

{stickers in action}

{getting through these at a rate of knots...}

You can buy them from Amazon. Get sticking!

Friday, 25 November 2011

An Empty Vessel

I've spoken before on this blog about my love for Diptyque Candles. But as well as the gorgeous, long-lasting fragrance, what really floats my boat is the packaging. Simple and elegant, Diptyque get it right every time. It's sometimes very hard for me to throw even the box away. Especially when I've spent so much flipping money on it.

So, imagine my dismay when the candle burns down to the end of its wick. No more beautifully smelling, gently flickering flame to brighten up the dark winter nights. But hang about, all is not lost - the glass votive cleans up a treat, once you scrape out the wax and put it in the dishwasher. You can even sometimes still smell the candle that was in it. And then there's no end of uses for it: a toothbrush mug, a pot for your cotton wool balls or make-up brushes, or even a bud vase. I've also used them as plant pots - put a little gravel in the bottom of the jar first for drainage, and away you go. A basil plant or succulent would work well. It's a good look.

{re-purposed candle jars}

On a trip to Paris a couple of years ago with my friend Liz, we tracked down the shop, on Boulevard St Germain, and whiled away a hour or two, until we were all sniffed out. I love the story behind the company and how they set it up. I was told it a few years ago now, and found it fascinating - I'll try and remember it for you here.

The shop's called Diptyque because of the two large windows which flank the central doorway of the boutique. It was set up in 1961 by three friends, Yves Coueslant, Christiane Gautrot and Englishman Desmond Knox-Leet, who met at Ecole des Beaux Arts. Yves, a theatre set designer, Christiane, an interiors designer, and Demond, a painter (who also did a stint in the RAF during the war), brought together their experience gathered through extensive travel, and previously designing fabrics and wallpaper for Liberty and Sanderson, and used it to set up Diptyque at 34 Boulevard St Germain. The shop started by selling fabrics they had designed themselves, collectables and objects they bought on their world travels. They had developed one of the original "concept" stores. It was the introduction of candles that saw the popularity of the shop rise, and the shop became something of a destination itself, despite being a the "wrong" end of Boulevard St Germain.

{the founders}

After the candles came home fragrances, and customers were using these on themselves, begging the trio to produce a range of perfumes. In 1968, L'eau Diptyque, their first perfume was launched, using the same iconically designed labels, created by Desmond Knox-Leet. The fragrances were be inspired by the experiences and extensive travels of the three friends - A childhood growing up in Vietnam. A garden estate in Normandy. A summer spent in Greece.

{the iconic labels}

The company has gone from strength to strength, expanding its range of fragrances and opening stores internationally. They're not quite the hidden secret they used to be when I first stumbled across them, but then success stories like this are hard to keep quiet.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Good grapecious me

I find body lotion boring. Boring to apply, boring whilst waiting for it to dry, with not enough return benefits. I never really saw any difference, even after slapping on handfuls of the stuff. I thought the concept of body lotion was certainly something my life could do without.

That was however, until my friend bought me this as a birthday present.

{Caudalie Nourishing Body Lotion, £18 John Lewis}

Oh it is good. But I know, £18 for a body lotion is many pennies. But I say again, it is good. So good, that I would look forward to putting it on. It doesn't leave you with that feeling of having a layer on your skin after you've applied it (I hate that feeling) and sinks in straight away - no waiting around. It is quite runny I suppose, and I like this texture, but don't let it mislead you into thinking runny = not moisturising enough. Think again. I am a bit funny about lotions and potions having strong smells, but this lotion has a very delicate, light smell, that is just lovely.

I even caught myself a couple of times staring at my just-moisturised arm in quiet admiration - then I got over myself. Caudalie is a French company, which uses the waste products left over from the wine-making process in its products. The left-over grape skins are packed full of anti-oxidants which as we all know, are ever so good for your skin. Polyphenols are extracted from the grape-seed and these prevent premature ageing of the skin, and gingko biloba activates microcirculation. As they say on their website, "protected and revitalized, your skin is firmer and more luminous for all day moisture" - yes, luminous! It was this quality which had me so entranced, during my arm-staring session. So, this is definitely going on my Christmas list.

(And if you know of another body lotion with the same marvellous qualities as this one, but that doesn't cost quite so much, let me know and I'll love you forever).

p.s. just found it on the Feel Unique website for £15.30 with free delivery, which is at least a little bit cheaper.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Carey does colour

I a little bit love Carey Mulligan. If she's in a film, you're guaranteed it's a good'un. And she has great hair - especially when she sports a quiff. And she wears GREAT outfits. She always looks different from everyone else, in a good way.

And I like what she does with colour - not for her, the run-of-the-mill long red or black dresses of the red carpet.

Here are a few of my favourites:

{great colour combination}

{pulling off "Colman's mustard" yellow}

{excellent blue shoes}

Now, I know what you're thinking about the outfit on the right - "it's not colour". Well I know, but look at the shoes people, the shoes! They are blue! What a stroke of genius, to team a blue shoe with this outfit. Completely transforms it, maintaining the stylish, classy feel of the outfit, but giving it a modern twist. It's perfect.

So I've been a little bit inspired by this look, and have been teaming some blue accessories to great affect with my some of my existing black and white clothes. It's an easy and simple way to update your wardrobe - will post pics of the outfits anon!

These are also two great examples of how to work the midi-length, even if you are not blessed with super-model height. I've never met Carey Mulligan in the flesh (imagine!) but if I did, I think she'd be pocket-sized, and so if she can pull it off, so can we all. The highest of heels help, by the looks of it.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Signature look

I had the lovely surprise of bumping into a friend the other day, who I hadn't seen for a couple of years. Just lovely. But I was amused by the fact that practically the first thing she said to me was "Trayns! But where are your leopard print shoes?".

So it's true that I used to have a pair of flat, pointy leopard print shoes from Zara, which I wore and wore until they fell apart. They were comfortable, I could walk for miles in them, and they went with everything. So this got me thinking that it was high time for a replacement. And I found the perfect pair in no time at all, with leather uppers, for £50 from Schuh. You need to know that these little beauties look much better in real life - this photo doesn't do them justice. I tried them on, and loved them so much, I was almost a little bit sick. They also do them in pale grey snakeskin - they're certainly worth a look too.

{snaffle pump leopard flats, £50 from Schuh}

And what's more, if you're buying them online, it's free delivery at the mo' on the Schuh website. I've got to say, Schuh is coming up with the goods for me this season - I usually don't give it a second look - but they also had my fabulous boots and so in my book, they're on a roll.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Dotty P - you're a Christmas cracker

I've been trying to start my Christmas shopping, well done me. My friends and I have got into the tradition of buying each other a little gift every Christmas - something lovely, but fairly inexpensive, as it's quite a large group to buy for. Every year, it's a bit of a challenge to find good, reasonably priced presents, but I happened to stumble on the following when I was trying to search for the perfect navy lace dress for Christmas - Dorothy Perkins had one which looked lovely on the website, but just didn't fit well when it turned up.

But these little trinkets have sorted me right out. Bling-a-ling!

Coral oval stud earrings - £2 from Dotty P's

Facet stone cocktail ring - £8.50 from Dotty P's

 Navy rope knot necklace - £10 from Dotty P's

Beaded knot necklace - £6.25 from Dotty P's

Facet glass band ring - £5 from Dotty P's
Facet ball ring - £3.75 from Dotty P's

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Boots: the final chapter

For those of you who have been following my boot quest on this blog, you will be pleased to know that I have finally come to the end of my journey. At the weekend, I found the Kourtney Riding Boot £110 from Schuh. I know, I was looking for tan, and these are brown, but these are just so perfect in every other way. Here's a pic, but you should know that they look ten times nicer in the flesh. The leather is very soft and looks expensive, and they are a very comfy fit. Even better, they are super long, and come up to just below my knee. Love them. And my mum has bought me them for Christmas, so the only drawback is that I have to wait until Christmas Day to wear them. Worth the wait I'd say.

{new boots}

Also, whilst I was in there, I tried on the Porto Riding Boot which I'd mentioned previously on this blog - not good. They look very wellie-ish on the ankle.

Job done.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Depression glass with class

So, on my wanderings around vintage shops up and down the land, I'll often come across dressing table sets, made from glass, which include trays, candlesticks and powder jars. They'll often be in shades of pink or green, made from heavy, patterned glass. They're not for me these sets, as though they are nice to look at, I'm not sure I'd ever use one.

However, a recent jaunt to a charity shop near me, found me purchasing a glass tray from one of these sets, for just £1.50, because it was all one its lonesome, without its candlestick and powder jar friends. As soon as I saw it, I knew what I'd use it for - I'd been using a little wooden tray next to our cooker, to stand the greasy olive oil bottle on, plus our salt & pepper grinders, which leave a trail of salt and pepper wherever they go. But the tray was getting a little icky, but a glass tray - well, that would be the perfect, very wipeable solution. Sold. Got it home, set it up, and I am feeling pretty smug with my arrangery.

{kitchen organisation station}

Spurred on, I realised that a similar tray would be ever so useful next to my bed, to organise the myriad of pots and jars of potions and lotions I hoard there. I bided my time, and before long, this little green number reared its lovely head. I pounced on it, whisked it home (paid for it first, mind) and got my products set up on it before you could say cleanse, tone and moisture. Ta-da:

{products standing to attention}

My research has informed me that this type of glassware is called "Depression Glass". It was made during the Depression, and is characterised by its art-deco pattern and the heaviness of the glass.

Available in all good charity shops.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Time for a Tunnock's

Working from home today, and what could be better for a mid-morning snack, as a break from all my hard graft?

What's not to love about these little snacky treats? The name, Tunnock's Teacakes - tick. The packaging - tick. The chocolate, marshmallow and biscuit - tick, tick, tick. And did you know they also do them in dark chocolate? Well they do, and they are fine.

And I have found someone who shares my love of this stylish confectionery brand. Gillian Kyle is a textile designer, living in Glasgow, and has paid homage to the majestic tea cake through her work. I'll have a pack of the cards thanks, and a print too if you're asking:

Nom nom nom x.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Boots: the sequel

Those of you who have been with Lemonade Pockets since the start, will be aware of the ordeal I'm having trying to find the perfect pair of tan leather boots for the winter. Here's an update...

Prince2 Topshop boots - I think I have been black-listed by Customer Services as a nuisance caller. Having located a pair in their Knightsbridge store, Customer Services were transferring them to my local store. However, they are now mysteriously lost in transit. My daily calls to them have resulted in them telling me that there is a health and safety issue with the heel of all pairs of the Prince2 boots, and they all have to be recalled. Hmmm....

In the meantime, I had ordered the ASOS Cleo Leather Plain Long Pull On Boots which have gone down to £42 in the sale. Now these are a nice boot, but I have rather pencil-like ankles, which meant that these were just way too baggy in that area, and looked too welly-ish. They've been sent back. Shame.

The other boots I'd mentioned, the Porto Riding Boots from Schuh, have also now gone in the sale, and are £59.99, with free standard delivery too.

So, anyway, imagine my delight today when I found out that the Zara Flat Boot Sole XL are back in stock on their website. Placed the order with trembling hands and am now awaiting arrival. Marv.

Another style I had been coveting on the Zara website, which were also out of stock, were their Flat Boot with Fringes:
Now, I thought about these carefully. I love them, big time. But careful consideration of my day-to-day activities led me to the realisation that after a few days, I would be dragging round a matted mess of muddy, soggy tassels behind me, perhaps giving the impression that I had a small, dead animal attached to my heel. Not a great look. But if your other half is pre-disposed to Sir Walter Raleigh type behaviour, or you spend most of your days at red-carpet style bashes, hopping straight from car to bar, then these boots will be just cracking.

Hurry up postie.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Cooking up a storm

My weekend was full of hard graft in the kitchen department. We had friends coming over for lunch on Sunday, so amongst other things, I made a pie and baked a cake.

My trusty companion for the weekend was the book How to Feed your Friends with Relish by Joanna Weinberg, which is a lovely read, and full of gems of widsom.

I made her leek, walnut and roquefort pie - a great option if one of your guests is a veggie, and also used her birthday cake recipe. Be warned though - the cake majors on the dark chocolate, and is very dark and rich. It's good, but if you're more of a "Colin the Caterpillar" cake fan, then this one is perhaps not for you. Anyway, here are my baking pics, along with a picture of lovely flowers which are in our dining room - these Stocks and Alstromeira have lasted over a week and are still going strong.

{Roquefort, leek & walnut pie}

{birthday cake}

{Stocks & Alstromeira}

Friday, 4 November 2011

(Staple) gun at the ready

So, I've recently moved into a new house, which we're renting. And this house has a large kitchen, with a stonking great island in the middle of it. Therefore, no room to fit in a table. Our landlord had 3 high kitchen stools around it, and took these with him when he moved out, and so ever since, I've been looked for some replacements.

Being a rented property, I wasn't wanting to spend a lot of money on these stools, if we're only going to get a couple of years use out of them. So I logged on to my old faithful ebay, to see what was going down. After a couple of weeks of near-misses on several items (kitchen stools seem to be in demand), I scored myself some little beauties - a great win, at £4.20 for three stools. £4.20! Good one, Trayns. So off I popped, 20 minutes down the road in the car, and picked them up.

Back on ebay, I bagged myself two meters of bright pink check Liberty fabric to cover the stools with, for a fiver. And last weekend, I got my staple gun out and covered all three. You'll need hammer, to bang the staples in as far as they can go. Stretch the fabric over the seat pad as tightly as you can, being careful to keep the pattern straight, especially if it's got straight lines in it, like a stripe or a check. When you're doing the corners, snip out some of the excess fabric, so that you get a smoother finish. The stools are in decent condition, but the seats, which are upholstered, are covered in a very brown 70's looking fabric. Retro, and not in a good way. No matter, I have a staple gun and am not afraid to use it. I got back on ebay (love it) and found myself some fabric. 

Now, I am a great fan of buying fabric on ebay, which some people find odd, because you can't feel it, because a lot about buying fabric is how it feels. And it's also often difficult to get the exact idea of what a fabric will be like from just photos. However, I find that if you search by brand (Liberty, Designers Guild, Sanderson) you will always be guaranteed quality. Also, if it's a good listing, there will be detailed fabric composition info, and great quality, super-size photos, which allow you to see the texture of the fabric close-up. Some sellers also offer a free sample service.

I'm really pleased with the way they've turned out - much better than my usual projects:


Carol Smilie eat your heart out.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Spider plant - the real super hero

So, we all know that spending long periods at your desk isn't good for you - bad for your eyes, bad for your posture, and then there's all the talk about the emissions from your computer. Now, I don't know much about these emissions, but I do know that they are best avoided, and here's what you can do to fight the good fight against them: get yourself a spider plant. And put it on your desk. There are a few different varities of plants which will protect you from your computer emissions, but I like the humble old spider plant because:

a)  it is cheap (I got mine from Homebase for £3.49 but look out for them at charity plant sales, car boots sales, jumble sales)
b) because it is almost impossible to kill them.

The spider plant will also reduce other toxins which exist in the home, like formaldehyde (from carpets, plywood, flatpack furniture and insulation materials) whose effects can range from mild eye, nose and throat irritations to more serious conditions. Blimey.

Here's mine on my desk:

{hello Spidey}

Apparently the way to care for a spider plant is to leave it alone, only watering it when it looks half-dead. Sounds simple enough. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Strictly sequins

Maybe it's because the season of glitter and gaudiness is approaching, or our weekly dose of Brucie and chums on a Saturday night, but I suddenly seem to be drawn to all things sequined.

And the high-street hero who can cater for this mapie-like trait? Zara, which in my book, is on a roll this season.

I think the best ways to do sequins is with accessories, or buying vintage. Gold sequins are definitely my preferred option - they look more chic - and if you're looking at clothing, combining them with cream is a stylish option. For accessories, try this gold sequin clutch from Zara, £29.99 - it's billed as a wallet, but is definitely large enough to use as a clutch:

Or if fancy footwork's more your thing, how about these gold sequin ballet pumps again from Zara, £49.99? The lining is 100% goat skin, so they'll be a comfortable wear, as well as a good look:

If you'd like to embrace this look with more than just accessories, keep restraint on your side. For a more casual sequined look, this t-shirt is a good day to night option, with a touch of French chic, made of viscose, from River Island, £22:

But my money's on this sequin sweat-shirt, reduced in the sale at Oasis to £30, and is 100% cotton:

For a vintage look, your best bet is the charity shops - I've lost count of the number of heavy, seqined and beaded dresses, capes and t-shirts I've seen. Here's a black vest by Frank Usher which I picked up a couple of weeks ago, for just £4 :

Shine on. x