Friday, 29 June 2012

The perfect tee

Never under-estimate the power of the t-shirt. It can take you from day to night, from board meeting to shopping spree, from power-walk to power-lunch.

A simple t-shirt with the right jacket and statement necklace can be the perfect foil to an outfit. Tucked-in, hanging out, sleeves rolled up - it's a versatile friend, whichever way you wear it.

I've been surprised by the fact that lots of t-shirts I've seen whilst shopping recently seem to be a polyester mix - something I've been seeing more and more of. In my book, t-shirts should be cotton, sometimes viscose, and sometimes a mix with linen or silk, but never polyester. A slightly scooped-neck makes it more day-wear than sports-wear.

My favourite all-time t-shirt is this navy one from GAP, as my friends will know, as losing it recently caused me to email every single person I'd been to visit over the last six months. I was re-united and have been wearing it fondly since.

{old necklace from Plumo}

And for the price (£6.99), this grey marl t-shirt from H&M has punched well above its weight.

{old necklace from Wallis}

Here are some of the good options out there.

Top row, left to right:
Cotton t-shirt, £4.99 H&M (available in five colours); 100% viscose t-shirt, £25 Cos (also available in black and white); Scoop neck pocket tee, £16.95 GAP (available in six colours)

Bottom row, left to right:
Seam back tee, £35 Whistles (available in three colours}; Curved hem tee, £10 Warehouse (available in three colours); Linen jersey pocket tee,  £35 Jigsaw (available in four colours)

Thursday, 28 June 2012


I was rather taken by this dish in a charity shop the other day. My liking for Depression Glass is clearly showing no signs of abating. As well as the obvious culinary uses, such as to hold fruit, bread or sweets, I thought of a lot more uses for this dish around the house. 

{new glass bowl}

{sunglasses ready and waiting}

{my everyday make-up within easy reach}

{keys, purse, phone? Check}

I change my handbag over a lot, so having a place to dump my handbag contents is proving very useful. This dish is here to stay.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Top of the shops

There've been an awful lot of things catching my eye lately from Topshop. I love Topshop, but my aversion to all things polyester and acrylic often means that things I love just cannot be bought, on a point of principle. Shopping at Topshop is a bit like being on a diet - I see a garment I love, but have to check the label to check the fabric content, only to find that it's made from anything but cotton, silk, viscose or wool. It's like checking the calorie content of every item in the supermarket, trying to find the low fat versions.

But their Boutique range features a lot more natural fibres, and is already showcasing a number of items made in Britain, a few of which you'll find in my edit below.

Here are the items I'm lusting after at the moment.

Top row, left to right:
Paisley print silk vest, £42; Lace blouse, £55; Silk military style shirt, £45; Premium silk floral devore tee, £45; Knitted Breton jumper, £36

Middle row, left to right:
Silk pull on shorts by Boutique, £40 (other colours available); Colour block leather clutch, £32; MOTO premium tencel t-shirt, £38; Suki dress by Motel, £38; Aztec dip dye skirt, £32; Silk cuff hem joggers, £65

Bottom row, left to right:
Madame tapestry slippers, £22; Knitted lurex sweater, £38; Leopard sandals, £45; Nude suede shoes with rose gold toecaps, £12

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Empty Vessels

I bought a load of these little jars from a chazzy at the weekend, for 20p each. And I've already put them to good use - they're versatile little fellas. This version from Habitat is incredibly similar, and in the sale.

{name place holders}

{add some style to your condiment tray}

{sort your stationery}

{but any old jar will do - just try to collect lots of the same style}

Try the amazing Wares of Knutsford to order sets of jars, or IKEA and Lakeland do similar products.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Necklace DIY: part 3

Last in the series of the DIY necklace posts is instructions on how to make your own bib necklace. This has been a bit of an ongoing project for me, having started it a while ago and then only just getting round to finishing it. So I haven't got any photos of the in-between stages. But I'll explain it to you bit by bit.

{the finished necklace}

{pic 1: supplies}

Gather together everything you'll need to make the necklace, which means:

- a large selection of buttons. I think you get a better result if you stick to one colour palette. I chose gold / silver / bronze / cream. I preferred to use buttons which had a loop on the back to use to attach the button to the fabric, rather than the traditional button with holes in the centre

- felt, which is the same colour as your chosen colour palette

- think about the look you're going for - I didn't want to be able to see any felt underneath all the buttons, so I bought gold sequins to sew onto the felt to fill up any gaps between the buttons

- needle and gold thread for sewing your buttons (and optional sequins) on to the felt

- craft glue

- ribbon

- scissors and felt-tip pen

{pic 2: my bib template}

I found  a bib necklace which I already had to draw around, to form the bib shape of the necklace. I traced around the outline of the necklace with a felt-tip pen, onto two layers of felt. Cut around the outline so you're left with two identical bib shapes. Set aside one of the shapes until later.

{pic 3: bib template, in felt}

Start sewing your buttons onto the template. This may take a while... Don't worry about the back of the felt looking messy with your criss-cross of threads - this will be covered up at the end.

{pic 4: buttons and sequins nestling closely together}

When you're happy that you've got enough buttons on your template, if you've decided to use sequins to fill in the gaps, start to sew these onto the felt too. 

{pic 5: sew your ribbons to the backing felt}

When you've finished attaching all of your sequins, find the other felt template which you set aside, and attach your ribbons to each corner. If your bib necklace shape is asymmetrical, make sure you're sewing your ribbons to the correct side so that your templates line up - you want the ends of the ribbons to be hidden underneath the felt.

Then using your craft glue, stick the two pieces of felt together, so that the second piece of felt hides all of the threads, and the ribbons ends too. The back of the necklace should now look the same as in pic 3 above.

Job done. Wear with pride.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Necklace DIY: part 2

When I was having a go at my neon necklace makeover the other day, I had intended to spray this necklace too. So I started covering the metal chains, because I was going to leave these silver, but the more I looked at this necklace, the more I started to think that it would be better to give it a different kind of makeover. 

{£4 chazzy necklace}

{close up}

So I removed the chains instead, because they looked a bit cheap, deciding to replace them with a fabric tie - the choice came down to the green ribbon or the gold silk chord in the picture below. I went for the green ribbon, but might get some yellowish-green velvet ribbon and see how that looks too. Still, I'm happy with the green for now, and pleased I didn't spray it. The actual necklace part is too intricate and detailed for that.

{ribbon decisions...}

{the finished necklace}

I rounded off the evening with a drink at our local. 21st June is my favourite day of the year - it stays light so late, so I was determined to go and have a drink outside in the intermittent sunshine and showers. And it also happens to be my mum's birthday - couldn't be with mum yesterday, but we toasted her anyway.

{happy birthday JP x}

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Necklace DIY: part 1

As I mentioned in my last post, I've developed a necklace addiction. I can't stop buying them, whether from the high street or chazzies, which have proven to be a very rich hunting ground. And now I'm even making them. And so I thought I'd share the results of my endeavours with you.

I've been feeling like getting a little crafty in the last few days. I was inspired by the neon necklace I bought from Zara. I'm a big fan of spray paint - it's an easy transformation for almost any item - and so I went on the hunt for a cheap necklace to give a neon makeover to.  I found a necklace for £3 in a chazzie, which was an old one from M&S, which I thought was a perfect candidate.

I wanted to keep the clasp silver, so I wrapped it tightly with clingfilm. Then I started spraying. I sprayed outside, but if you're going to do this, make sure there's no wind, otherwise you'll have no control over where the paint is going. Also, make sure that your house windows and doors are closed, because the fumes travel further than you think. 

£3 chazzy necklace}

{close up}

{clasp wrapped in clingfilm}

The secret is to do lots of fine coats of paint, making sure that each coat of paint dries properly before you go for the next one. 

{necklace sprayed with paint}

You need to spray both side of the necklace, but when I turned mine over, I really liked the effect already created. A diffused layer of paint had crept over all the edge of the necklace, giving a dappled neon effect. Liked it. So didn't spray any more. And might just wear it the "wrong" way round all the time. Then I gave the necklace a spray each side with a quick coat of spray varnish, left it to dry, and ta-da, it was done.

{finished necklace}

{reverse side}

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The weekend

We packed a lot into the last weekend. The weather still wasn't great, so there was a lot of general lounging, and we fitted in a quick stroll when there was a rain-free window. There was rather a lot of eating and drinking, and it's still pretty cold in the evenings, which means that we are putting together the occasional fire - in June! I know! Still, at least the evenings are light.

{poached eggs and asparagus on sourdough toast}

{home made guacamole}

I am on a bit of a mission with making guacamole, and I think I'm getting quite good at it. And even better, it's very easy, but impressive - a combination I like best of all. I don't follow a recipe, I just make it up (unusual for me, I normally like instructions) - here's how I do it:
- mash 4 avocados with a fork
- add 1 tomato, cut into small pieces (flesh only, discard the seeds)
- add red chilli - half a teaspoon of Lazy Chilli will do
- if you like your guacamole quite creamy, add a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream
- mix it all together, with a squeeze of half a lime and a small handful of coriander



I had a quick dash to a chazzie and came out with these two necklaces. I have a little obsession with statement necklaces, so am keeping one (which I found in the £1 bargain basket - result) and have stashed the other one away for a friend's birthday, because I have to stop feeding this necklace addiction.

{new necklace - it's a bit "mayoral chain" don't you think?}

{found this in the £1 basket}

{cocktail making}

{something for these chilly June evenings...}

Monday, 18 June 2012

It's all about the packaging

I love nice packaging. Whilst trying to stay mindful of excessive, wasteful packaging, I do like nicely designed, beautifully restrained packaging. What I don't like is the nasty bits of black plastic that so much high-street jewellery seems to involve. Talk about not showing something in its best light.

{ugly black plastic packaging}

So when buying jewellery to give as a gift, I always change the packaging, and have a selection of gift tags, luggage tags, postcards and tiny notelets at hand for the purpose. WHSmiths, Rymans, Paperchase and John Lewis are all good places to stock up at.

{it's good to have a whole selection on hand}

{tiny cards make good earring cards}

{attach the earrings to the card and include your birthday

{you can change the string to ribbon for a more decorative

{tie your postcards with ribbon or use small envelopes
for wrapping paper}

Friday, 15 June 2012

Happy hour

I wish we lived in the Upstairs Downstairs era of champagne and cocktails every evening, as a matter of course, with no regard for what it might be doing to our skin or our livers. One thing which has stayed with us though is the lovely design and packaging of spirit bottles, and the cuteness and colourfulness of drinks accessories. They're too good to be left in the cupboard.

Any small corner of a room can be designated a drinks corner - there's no need for a separate drinks trolley if you haven't the room for it. A shelf in a hallway, kitchen or living room will do - and here's where my healthy obsession with trays comes in too - a tray will give you a designated area to display it all on.

I've roped in my old egg basket, which I have never really got round to using for eggs. I find it's the perfect vessel for storing my mini cans of tonic. And a Martini mirror, found in a chazzy, makes an excellent backdrop.

A Coronation ceramic beaker and crystal glass tumbler make good storage options for cocktail umbrellas and sticks, and my favourite pink flamingo swizzle sticks (I've had mine since my student days, but you can get hold of them here).

{Isle of Wight tray, £15 Living By The Seaside}

The tray was a gift - this is the Isle of Wight version but I've also seen an Isle of Mann version. Here are a couple of other drinks tray ideas for you to have a look at.

{get a similar gold tray from Dunelm Mill}

{include a scented candle and flowers for a more decorative look}

{this wooden tray from Habitat is similar}

Chin chin.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Twinkle toes

I succumbed to a real moment of weakness and bought these slippers from Zara - they're not my usual kind of purchase, being made entirely from man-made fabrics and not a bit of leather to be seen. But I saw them and loved them so that was that. A leather insole is appeasing my guilty conscience only slightly. This version from Topshop would be a good alternative if you like pastel colours, and they're made from cotton canvas, but I preferred the nude colour of the Zara pair.

{twinkling in the sun}

There are lots of shimmery shiny shoes out there at the moment - whether adorned with diamante, sequins, glitter or studs, this is a trend that's hit the high street hard. I think the glitter versions are the best - if you choose carefully, they look more expensive and are less trend-driven than studs. Here's a selection.

Clockwise from top left:
Mammal slip-on multi-glitter slipper, £48 Office; Marchel flat sandals, £40 Aldo; Glitter slipper, £79.95 Massimo Dutti; Kook glitter flat sandals by Carvela, £75 ASOS;  Pink Ballerina with glitter cap-toe, £64.95 Massimo Dutti