Monday, 30 January 2012

Get your bling on

Nothing can cheer up these dull January days like a bit of bling. A few baubles about your person really help to give a sense of occasion to an outfit or event, and so I say pile them high.

I had spotted this necklace on the Topshop website just before Christmas. It was sold out, and despite searches of several local Topshops, plus a trek to the Oxford Circus store to hunt it down, I could not get hold of it for love nor money.

{Topshop necklace}

And then what turned up on ebay last week, brand new, for a tenner less that it was in the shop? Yep, you've guessed it:

I seem to be on a bit of a lucky necklace streak at the moment, because when I was away over New Year in Wales, I took myself on a tour of the local charity shops, and look at this necklace I found for £6 - I especially love to wear this with the red jumper which I picked up in the same chazzy for £4 - 100% wool, machine washable, and in a bright, cheery red.

{bright red crew neck jumper}

{gold, starfish and pearl necklace}

{nice nautical necklace}

A note about knitwear, especially when from a chazzy:-
- you need to know how much I love knitwear. It is by far one of my favourite purchases - I am inexplicably drawn to it, whatever shop I go in to, like a moth to a flame. Also, talking of moths, I once had those - I cried. My two favourite jigsaw jumpers which had been with me for years were past saving.

Still on knitwear:-
- always wash your clothes if you've worn them, before you put them back in the draw, even if they don't really need it. Or if you're going to wear the garment again, hang it up somewhere that isn't in your wardrobe. Do not put it straight back in your wardrobe because that will end in tears, believe me.

Last bit on knitwear:-
- there is a certain odour that one cannnot deny will linger on a charity shop garment. My secret weapon in this situation is Woolite.

{Woolite Hand & Machine Delicates Wash}


I have been sucked in by this product - mainly by its smell which is delightful, and will turn your whole drawer into a sensory delight for the nose.

I was sold on the claims on the back of the packaging: it will apparently prevent shrinking, stretching, fading, pilling, shape loss or colour loss. Sounds amazing - might start rubbing it into my face. But really, I do think it works, and if it'll make my knitwear last longer, and smell lovely, then I'm fine with that.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The dregs

This is maybe my favourite time for sale shopping. It's the real end of the sales, when there's not much left of the rails, but what is left is reduced massively.

I went to Zara and bought these two tops. The stripey t-shirt on the left is cream with black stripes and long sleeves for £6.99, in a lovely cotton jersey. The top on the left is a thin camel sweatshirt, made of a cotton / modal mix, for £7.99.

{Zara sale finds}

The stripey top looks particularly nice under the camel top, with the super long sleeves peeking out at the cuffs, and the hem coming down longer around the waist.

Pleased as punch.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The weekend

Some little glimpses from the weekend just gone.

Had two friends staying with us for the weekend, and we were pretty lazy. Lots of lie-ins and the well intentioned walk was cancelled due to it blowing a gale on the Sunday.

So we had an excellent chazzing session, went to Wagamama's, saw The Iron Lady, played Trivial Pursuit and ate a huge Sunday lunch.

{Frank Usher top from charity shop}

{scalloped edge, beads and sequins}

I'm mega pleased with the top - it's very heavy, so it hangs nicely, with a scalloped edge (very now) and fits in with my current black and gold obsession (more here). I'll wear this with my grey skinny jeans from GAP, or my black pencil skirt (which has recently celebrated its 10th birthday).

{Trivial Pursuit}

{Sunday lunch - recipe to follow}

Our guests were veggies, so out with the joint, and hello vegetable peeler. This recipe was great though - a good one for when you're trying to cut down on meat.

Roast winter vegetables with halloumi

4 small uncooked beetroot
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
3 small red onions, quartered
4 carrots, halved lengthways
3 parsnips, quartered lengthways
3 whole heads garlic
Olive oil
250g halloumi cheese, cut into 2cm cubes
Ground coriander seeds
1 tsp sumac
Parsley leaves, to serve
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Heat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6). Cook the beetroot (in their skins) in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Drain and allow them to cool slightly before slipping off their skins, then halve or quarter them, depending on their size.

Cut the sweet potato into 5cm (2in) pieces. Place them and the beetroot, onions, carrots, parsnips and garlic on a large baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast for about 50 minutes, or until the carrots and parsnips are tender, turning them occasionally.

Add the halloumi and spices to the pan, drizzle with a little more oil and season with salt and pepper. Return to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes.

Scatter over the parsley leaves, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve. 

(I changed the amount of halloumi from 150g as was suggested in the original recipe to putting in the whole 250g pack - this amount of veg definitely needed the extra halloumi.)

{result}

{apple pie}

Then I made this apple pie with some apple pie filling I'd made weeks ago and frozen - a neighbour had turned up on the door step with bag full of apples, because he had thousands of the things - so I just bought some ready to roll pastry (nobody will know, say you made it from scratch) and Popeye put this together in seconds flat.

Where's this week gone? I've only just got last weekend's blog post together, and another one is upon us already.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Rainbow Brite

I've had this fabulous charity shop find for a while now - a vintage M&S frock, which I think has something of the Rainbow Brite about it.

{vintage M&S dress}

The simple shape and lovely lurex stripe mean that it's a dress which can work for many occasions, dressed-up or down, and accessorised with a whole rainbow of colours, or just kept simple, teaming it with black.

{spaghetti straps & belt loops waiting for a thin gold belt}

{rainbow stripes}

Then an afternoon spent chazzing with Liverpool Lou at the weekend turned up these little wonders - what a match.

{jewel coloured bracelets}
Outfit complete and ready to go.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Botanical prints

I've long been a fan of botanical prints, and particularly like the effect when they're grouped together, when they give maximum impact.

I find it hard to find lovely pictures for the walls, which don't cost a fortune, and am always looking for new ideas.

I also know that the inspirational Rita Konig is a fan, as I spied them in a pic of her apartment - you can read more about Rita's apartment here. If Rita likes them, then you know you're on to a good thing.

{botanical prints en masse}

{used to create a headboard effect}

{the consistent orange contrasts with the grey walls}

{matching frames uniforms the look}

I often see these prints in charity shops, like these two I saw at the weekend for just £5 each.





You can buy new ones from the V&A museum, which has a great online shop for posters and prints - there's a huge selection here - have fun browsing.

And what's more, it's all for a good cause, as all profits from the V&A shop go back to the museum. Win win.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Have a blast

This hairdryer will change your life (ok, notably in quite a small way). Just down to the fact that it is very powerful, and hot, and will get your hair straighter that it's ever been before, in half the time of any of that Babyliss rubbish. The extra five minutes in the morning this gives you is invaluable, in my book.
This is the Porsche of the hairdryer world - once you've used this, there will be no going back. And the good news is that they last a long time - an excellent piece of machinery.

Go to the parlux website direct for the best prices on them. My model is the 3200.

{the Parlux 3200 - a friend for life}

Now, hairdryer storage I find can be a bit of a problem. I use mine every day, so need it to be easily accessible at all times - getting it out, and putting it away again, every day, is a faff. So I need to have it to hand in a Quick Draw McGraw fashion, and plugged in, ready to go - I have found that this basket from IKEA, kept under the chair, next to the power socket, is the ideal solution. It fits all my hair products and brushes in too.

{hairdryer storage solution}

Prepare to be blown away.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Get a sweat on

My January weekend uniform has mainly been consisting of what I would call sportswear chic. Now, I wouldn't suggest for a moment that you should do actual, proper sport in any of these clothes. Oh no, this is faux sportswear which will simply make you look stylishly stylish, but still ever so comfortable. It's one step up from the pyjamas which you really want to keep on for most of January.

Big friends in this sportswear chic look are silk t-shirts, and sweat shirts. Both look good worn layered, with skinny jeans, and can be worn with Converse or ballet pumps in the day, and dressed up with jewellery, heels and a jacket in the evening.

Here's some inspiration - the bold, statement necklace with the sweatshirt works a treat.

{sweatshirt with bib necklace}

I am practically never out of my Sonny sweatshirt from Reiss, which is now out of stock, and love it so much I bought two, and my mum got one as well. But here are some great alternatives:

This top from Uniqlo comes in a whole range of colours - it's actually in their men's range, but the sizes start from XS, and do come up very small. Great value too.

{long sleeved sweatshirt, £19.90 from Uniqlo}


Jaeger also do a dress version of this top - both are in the sale.

{jersey sweatshirt, £20 from Jaeger}


For a sweatshirt with a bit more detail, how about this one below with lace panels? Also comes in cream. Or if you're after a plain navy blue sweatshirt, I like this one in the sale from J.Crew.

{lace insert sweat, £35 Warehouse}
These sweatshirts from Petit Bateau are good quality - they're in the sale, with only certain sizes available, and it also comes in navy.

{long sleeved sweatshirt, £23.75 Petit Bateau}




Gap used to do some brilliant plain silk t-shirts, which you can machine wash, but they don't seem to have any this season, although they do have this nice cotton-silk mix striped t-shirt for £25.95 (and have you signed up to GAP emails via their website, because they regularly send you 30% off vouchers). Keep your eye open on the high street for similar versions. I've found these in the Reiss sale, in a whole range of colours.

{silk t-shirts, £49 from Reiss}









Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hands free

There are some occasions when you need to have your hands free and fully operational. When a bag hooked over the crook of your arm, or clutched in your sweaty palm just won't do. And that's when you need a hands free bag, which goes across the body, so you don't need to keep hitching it back onto your shoulder when it keeps falling off.

I've been on the look out for these recently, deciding that they would make excellent Christmas presents for a few people I had in mind, and this is the stash I came back with from the charity shops. Prices ranged from £3 to £5.95.

{recent charity shop finds}

{Eeny, meeny, miny, moe}

I find the charity shops are excellent hunting ground for these type of bags, and you'd be suprised at the range of styles you can choose from. Look for older, vintage styles, rather than anything more recent, as the older styles tend to be made from leather, rather than the nasty plastic versions you see on the high street.

Names to look out for are Tula, Jane Shilton, Suzy Smith, and of course good old vintage M&S.

If they need cleaning up a bit, use a baby wipe, and then I give them a rub with some of this handbag cream (yes, even your handbag needs a moisturiser!) that I bought from Jones the Bootmakers.

{handbag cream from Jones the Bootmaker}

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Outfit inspiration: Poppy Delevingne

What an outfit - simple and understated, but has such an impact.

My friend was reading her magazine and started oohing and ahhing over this picture. We all ran over to see what the fuss was about, and then we were all smitten kittens.

{Poppy Delvigne}

{it's not a skirt - they are culottes}

It looks like a gold maxi-skirt, but is in fact a pair of VERY wide-legged trousers.

{love that they have pockets too}

So, I've tried to re-create it using clothes I already have. 

{gap silk t-shirt with charity shop gold silk skirt}

{label in skirt is Cotswold Collections}

Then I was in Marks and Sparks on Friday, getting my lunch, and this skirt caught my eye. I clocked the £9 price ticket and popped it in my basket, loving the gold, and the pleats, and the long, long length, which is essential if you're a bit taller than average - an ankle flapping maxi skirt is not something you should ever encounter.

{long gold pleated skirt, £9 Marks & Spencer}


{knife pleats - another 2012 trend}

Monday, 16 January 2012

Standard issue

During World War I, a Burberry rain coat (designed specially by Thomas Burberry for life in the trenches), which became know as a Trench Coat, was given as standard uniform issue to every British Army officer.

And we still wear it now, it coming back year after year as a perennial of the catwalk, withstanding the trials and tribulations of fashion's comings and goings.

I've long been the proud owner of a vintage Debenhams trench coat in grey with brown leather buttons, but have been hankering after a cream one for a while. I've been pondering one from Mango (now in the sale for £44.90) and also this one from Uniqlo which has an extra bit of Uniqlo magic in the form of their Body Warm Lite Liner, to keep you extra toasty, which is handy when it's a flipping cold as it is now. It also comes in black or navy.

{trench coat, £99.90 from Uniqlo}

But then a stroke of luck came my way, and look what I found on Saturday in the chazzy:

{cream vintage trench coat}

{made by Danimac}

I got this for the princely sum of £8, and it's in great condition, made by Danimac. I remember they used to sell Danimac in John Lewis when I was little, when I would accompany my mum to the Ladies' Department, on her mission to find the perfect coat, not too smart, not too casual, always with a hood. A mission which is still ongoing.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Outfit inspiration: Clemence Poesy

{Clemence Poesy}

Here she is again, in another excellent outfit. Clemence is in the papers and magazines a lot at the moment, which must be due to her upcoming appearance in the BBC's adaptation of Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong.

I recently found this gold jacket in a charity shop, and had been struggling with what to wear it with. Struggle no more though, I'm sorted - I'm going to wear it with my grey marl t-shirt from H&M, black skinny trousers, chunky necklace and my black ankle boots.

{gold Eastex jacket from charity shop}
{bad photo angle - boots look HUGE}

This outfit looks better with my grey leather knee-high boots that the black flat ones, I reckon..

Going for, going for GOLD.

Friday, 13 January 2012

In the frame

I find it quite hard to find nice (reasonably priced) pictures to go on my walls, but I do think that pictures maketh a room, so I am always on the look out. Also, getting pictures framed is mucho expensivo. I've done a few DIY jobs, but they always retain a slightly amateurish look, unless the picture is very small.

So, in 2011, fed-up by the growing pile of unframed prints, I decided to get one framed each month, when pay day came around.

For anyone living near Amersham, I have found Bespoke Framing, based on a random farm in the middle of nowhere. I think they are very good and very reasonable.

I tore off this anniversary fold-out magazine cover from Vogue about 4 years ago now I think, and I have been hoarding it ever since. I got it back from the framers the other day, and am a little bit over the moon with it.

{framed vogue cover from an anniversary edition}

The print was free (well, I paid for the magazine, but I'd have bought that anyway, regardless of the cover) and the framing was £35, which I don't think is too bad - the picture's larger than it looks from this photo.