Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday Favourites 223..

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A handful of lovely independent companies have caught my eye this week and I'm all for championing smaller businesses, so  I thought I'd pick out some lovely present ideas...

001: Perfect for any seamstress, these cute doughnut pattern weights are all handmade and would be ideal for cutting out your next project.

002: I love retro style lingerie and the pieces from My Retro Closet are no exception. The Jayne ruffle set is currently on sale - now all I have to do is decide on my favourite colour...!

003: Fairytale Collars also sell a few amazing pins and this little Loch Ness Monster is probably my favourite pin design for a long while. 

004: I still absolutely love my sewing themed mug from Teaplease, and there are so many customisable designs to choose from that you're sure to find something which suits even the most tricky person to buy for...

005: Another local maker, The Whistling Cowgirl never fails to come up with some cute and lovely designs - this toadstool cushion would cheer up any comfy sofa.

006: I only recently discovered Oscar and Clarke, but I love the idea of recycled bottles being used to hold candles - these champagne ones are my favourite.

Have you seen any amazing gift ideas?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

You can't cage a wild thing..


Sometimes, when you're having a rotten week, a wonderful parcel of loveliness can change everything and cheer you up no end. A box arrived yesterday containing the recognisable print of a Yoshi dust-bag and frankly, it cheered me up no end.


This is the amazing Into The Wild tote bag, which reminds me so much of Where the Wild Things Are - did you read that book when you were young? I didn't, but I adored the film and would like to sleep in a pile, to be honest. 


The bag is beautiful. Aside from the lovely bears, bird and deer on the woodland design on the front, it's got some fabulous little details, like this fox peeking out from a tree trunk on the back. The grab handles of the bag are such a lovely design (it sounds like a funny thing to say but they just feel right) and it's got a detachable cross-body strap as well, which clips onto the loops by the top zip. 


If you're looking for something amazing to give someone as a present this Christmas, I assure you you could do a lot worse than choose them a Yoshi bag. I've loved every one which I've seen thus far and have bought two as presents so far, as well. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Blog Tour: All I Ever Wanted..

All I Ever Wanted : Lucy Dillon

Nancy is four, nearly five. She talks all the time: in the car, on the way to nursery, to her extrovert older brother, to her collection of bears. But then, one February morning, everything changes. Nancy's mum and dad split up. Her father Patrick moves away from their Bristol home to Newcastle. And Nancy stops talking. 

Eva is forty-four, nearly forty-five. She didn't expect to be the third wife of a much-loved household name, but eight years ago, she and semi-retired bad boy Michael Quinn fell in love. Eva knew marrying a much older man meant compromises, but it was the love of a lifetime for them both - until Mickey dies suddenly, leaving Eva alone with his gossipy diaries, their two pugs, and a distressing voice in the back of her mind, wondering if perhaps she's sacrificed more than she meant to. 

While Nancy's parents negotiate their separation, the question of weekend contact is solved when Patrick volunteers his sister Eva's house. It's in Longhampton, an hour out of Bristol, with plenty of room for her to get to know a niece and nephew she's barely met - even if Nancy continues to refuse to speak. Patrick is sure it's just a phase but his soon-to-be-ex-wife is worried that something more traumatic lies at the heart of their daughter's selective mutism.


I was thrilled to be asked to host a stop in the blog tour for Lucy Dillon's new book, All I Ever Wanted. I've heard great things about her writing, although this was my first of her books and I couldn't wait to take it away with me for the weekend. Reading it in front of the log burner, I was transported from my cosy armchair to Caitlin's Bristol home as her world begins to fall apart.

Eva, Caitlin's sister-in-law is finally finding her feet again after being widowed two years previously. Suddenly, her brother Patrick makes a suggestion that she could host his contact weekends with the children and she worries about the chaos which will no doubt ensue. How will she cope with the chaos?

I found all of the characters in this book totally endearing, with the exception of Caitlin at certain points where she seemed a little irresponsible for a mother of two. Most of the time she seemed to be quite a normal person, sometimes overwhelmed at life and I guess I found that quite endearing. 

The children were written in a lovely way, as was the way in which Nancy's issues were resolved. All in all, I found this a rather lovely read, despite dealing with a few things you might not expect from a regular chick-lit novel. Definitely give it a read! All I Ever Wanted will be released on 1st December 2016.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Black Friday Favourites..

I didn't think it would be right to pass up an opportunity to share my favourite Black Friday sale picks with you, so here we go..

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001: Aspire Style's Black Friday sale section is the place to snap up this Emily and Fin Florence dress - love the cute print on this.

002: Lindy Bop are adding more and more items to their Black Friday sale, including this lovely matryoshka print skirt. 

003: Marceline has 20% off everything on her website, with up to 40% off some selected items. This little Mount Fuji enamel pin is one of them. 

004: Amazing acrylic jewellery makers, La Vidriola are offering 20% off their site until 29th November, with free gifts if you spend over a certain amount. This Rudolph necklace is amazing - his nose lights up! 

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005: Joanie have all kinds of reductions going on - their Black Friday sale is up to 50% off, so head over there and find your Christmas party outfit - sooo many pretty things!

006: Damaris and Mimi Holliday are fast becoming a site I drool over most days, so I was super excited to see that they have some huge Black Friday reductions.

007: Yoshi are offering 20% off all full price items today only with the code THANKYOU20 and I'm so tempted by this jammy biscuit bag. 

008: Collectif have 25% off everything in their own brand lines, until midnight on 28th Nov. This dress has been in my dreams for so long now - perhaps it's time to take the plunge!

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009: Playful Promises have a huge sale on at the moment - I might need to be restrained.

010: Little Moose are offering 20% off everything with the code LMBF20 until midnight on Monday.

011: Kate Spade also have 20% off your purchase with the code SKYLINE. Also ends midnight on Monday.

012: You can pick these Irregular Choice x Alice heels up from Schuh with 32% off in their Black Friday sale. 

Other offers to be aware of:

  • Hannah from Doodleheart is offering 25% off her prints until tomorrow with the code "BLACKFRIDAY16".
  • For fabric lovers, there's up to 70% off in Miss Matatabi's fabric shop on Etsy, whilst The Village Haberdashery have 25% off for today only with the code BLACKFRIYAY25.
  • Searching for wedding shoes? The code BLACK20 will get you 20% off shoes on Elegant Steps.
  • Vendula London have 30% off selected products on their site until Monday.
  • Book of Deer have some beautiful clothes on sale in their Black Friday selection.
  • Sugar and Vice have 20% off the site with the code BLACKFRIDAY, which ends midnight tonight.
Have you spotted any amazing deals?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

#novbagnov round-up Days 10-18..


Crikey, this month seems to be speeding by and it seemed high time for another round up.

I've used some favourites here (my Kate Spade train clutch is still one of my favourite ever things) and also some bags which I don't use nearly as often as I should - my Irregular Choice rabbit bag was great to take to London last week. It has a tiny zip pocket in one of the ears, which makes the perfect place to keep your travel pass. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

You made me feel as though I was enough..

Dress: Collectif // Cardigan: H+M
Bag: LYDC // Shoes: Irregular Choice

I feel as though there's nothing particularly new or exciting about this outfit, but I still love this dress and I don't seem to have taken any new outfit photos in a while, so here we are. Absolutely loving my #novbagnov challenge for encouraging me to use more of my collection, although I fear I'm nearing the end of the month and have so many bags I still need to use. I'm rather failing on keeping up with some of my other challenges, though. November was always going to be a busy one, but I've not managed to write my way past 5000 works on my "novel" for Nanowrimo, so I'll perhaps try that one again next year. 

I've also been quite lax with my #BPSewvember photo challenge. I haven't had very much time to sew lately, although this week I'm feeling more inspired to, after spending a day with Sarah learning the ways of the Lady Skater dress (more on that later) and sorting through some of my fabric stash in order to send out some fabric parcels this week for people wanting scraps for quilts etc (there have been a few request hashtags over on Instagram of late). 

Anyhow, this week is flying by, quicker than usual. Which always seems to be the way when I have heaps to do and not enough time. I have some lovely things planned, though, so all is good. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Tuesday Titles 113..

A couple of books for you today - I've recently delved into Sierra Cartwright's Donovan series, which if you're not into fairy explicit BDSM content, is not going to be your cup of tea. (Seriously, graphic content to follow.)

As someone who isn't afraid to ask for what they want when it comes to relationships, the recent rise in popularity in this genre has really intrigued me. Are we getting more open with our relationship chat? Or are we living through the books we read on the subject and secretly wishing we could be more like these characters...? I know which side of the fence I sit on, but what about you? 

Bind - Sienna Cartwright
"You remember that we talked about safe words?"

She couldn't believe they were having this conversation. "Yes."

"Unless there are words you want to use, we can use red and yellow. Red for stop immediately, yellow for slow down, we need to talk, I'm scared, or to let me know you need something."

"That works for me."

Bind, the first book in Sierra Cartwright's Donovan Dynasty series really sets the scene. Lara, whose family is facing financial ruin, comes up with a rather risky business proposition and is a little surprised when entrepreneur Connor takes her up on it. 

Full of fairly graphic BDSM and dom / sub references, this is not a book for the faint of heart, and the second in the series picks up where Bind leaves off, with a focus on some of the other characters in the company. 

Brand - Sienna Cartwright

He wants her subject to his will. She’s scared she may never want to get away. The first time Sofia McBride meets the strong and determined Cade Donovan, he warns her to keep her distance. She tells herself to heed his words, but she’s stunned to realize her depth of attraction to this intimidating man.

Brand continues the Donovan series in the same way - sexy, heated scenes and graphic descriptions of the relationship forming between Sofia and Cade. 

To be honest, there are so many series' of books in the BDSM fantasy category (we're well into 50 Shades territory here) that it can be hard to find a stand-out writer, but I think Cartwright does well here to put her own stamp on the genre and I'm keen to read the third installment. It's clear that she has a real passion for her subject matter and she's written a guest post, on BDSM and how it fits into her relationships, which I'm keen to share, as something which has always intrigued me is how we find out if the other person in our relationship is into the same fantasies as we are:

I Like to be Spanked - Sierra Cartwright

"“I like to be spanked” is not something I ever imagined saying on a first date! But since my divorce, it’s something I’ve said…more than once.

When I’m having dinner with a Dom whom I met at a munch (an actual term for a casual meet and greet, typically at a restaurant or other public place), at a lifestyle club, or through mutual friends, it’s an expected, even necessary part of the conversation.

It’s much more difficult, embarrassing, even risky with a man I’ve met through friends or standing in line at a coffee shop. I’ve heard a range of responses, from, “Really? You want me to tie you up? Hell, yeah. I can do that!” To, “I could never treat a woman that way, not even for fun.”

The normal response from men who have never experimented with BDSM is a ton of questions. “Doesn’t spanking hurt?” Uhm. Yes. It does. “Why do you want to do that?”

It would be easy to not bring up the conversation so early in a potential relationship, but I’ve always been intrigued with BDSM. When I was a young married woman, I learned my husband had little to no interest in exploring my kinky side. I told myself that I could read books and fantasize about various scenarios and still be happy, even though I’d never get to experience them for myself.

But after recovering from the utter devastation of a divorce I never wanted, I made some decisions. And one of them was to explore the thing that had intrigued me for years.

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, a new male acquaintance was a Dom. We were discussing our failed marriages, and one evening on the phone, I had confessed that I had always wanted more, sexually, from my relationship.

He pressed for more information. And since I had the distance and anonymity that comes from being on a phone rather than being face-to-face, I admitted that I had read some of Anne Rice’s material, as well as the Story of O. Since I still had no idea he was dominant, we had a bit of an intellectual discussion.
And then, very deep into the conversation, he told me to slide my hand into my panties to see if I was wet.

I froze, somewhere between shock, disbelief, and excitement. But there was something in his tone that hadn’t been there previously, a command, a demand, and he was totally uncompromising.

My heart raced at his implacability. I protested. I asked him if he was crazy. But I was reeling. This was exactly what I had said I wanted, a feeling of arousal that left me giddy.

He asked if he needed to repeat his order.

“No,” I whispered.

“So. Are you?”

“You’re a Dom?”

He laughed. “What do you think?”

My knees weakened, and I sank into a nearby chair.

“Do it now!” he snapped

And I did.

Delirium made my world spin. Nothing has been the same since.

That night, before I went to bed, he told me to masturbate, but not to orgasm. I did…and I thought I might die from the exquisite torture. I tossed and turned, and the little sleep I got was fitful. Even though I was exhausted, I’d never been more vibrantly alive or curious.

We never had a formal dating relationship, but he was the Dom who taught me, in a very real way, when to use my safe word, and he helped me find my limits though a lot of discussion and experimentation.

Once I’d tasted this kind of excitement, I was committed to having a life that included at least some elements of BDSM.

As a novelist of romantic BDSM fiction, I’m lucky. When I meet men who know nothing about it, but my needs don’t terrify them, I give them a copy of one of my books. If he’s interested in me, he will likely read it. At the very least, he’ll skim it to get an idea of the things that intrigue me.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that BDSM is extraordinarily empowering for the submissive. At first, that idea struck me as an oxymoron, but before scening with a Dom, there’s always a discussion about consent and about the things the sub enjoys, the things she’s willing to do, the things she might consider doing, and the things she will never agree to. There’s an extraordinary amount of conversation and discussion. And it’s raw and honest, emotional in a way I’ve rarely experienced in a non-BDSM relationship.

In fact, it’s not unusual for there to be several long discussions before the couple even engages in BDSM. Doms as well as subs will want to know the person they’re going to play with. He might want to know her personality and build-up trust. I’ve gone on as many as four different dates with a Dom before venturing into his dungeon. (This isn’t necessarily true in a club setting.)

There is always an agreed-upon word that will immediately stop a scene. There’s a word that will allow for a pause because something isn’t working, perhaps a fear has thrown a submissive out of the scene, or she has a cramped muscle, or something is no longer pleasant. After connecting and talking, they may continue, the couple can move onto something else, or they can agree to end the scene.

No matter what, the Dom must remain in control of himself for the duration of the time he’s together with his sub. It’s his obligation to protect her and care for her, especially if she is so far gone with the pleasure of endorphins that she is no longer thinking straight.

Can I share one of the most delicious secrets about BDSM? It’s all about the sub! Many people believe that BDSM is about a submissive serving a Dom, and there’s certainly an element of that involved. But first and foremost, it’s about her. He focuses all his energy, time, thoughts and attention on her. And that can be a heady experience indeed.

Another thing that surprises some people is that no two BDSM scenes or relationships are the same. People can meet for scenes and never have a romantic relationship. Intercourse is not always part of a scene. Even among committed couples, relationships are unique. Some live a dynamic twenty-four hours a day. Some keep it in the bedroom or only on weekends. Just as every relationship you’ve ever had is different, so, too, is each BDSM union.

And even though that initial conversation can be terrifying—more than one man never wanted a second date—I’ve learned that I have to take risks in order to get what I really want in life. So, yes, I like spankings and floggings. And while you’re at it, grab a blindfold. You can skip the gag because now that I’ve started talking about what I want, I’m afraid I’m never going to stop."