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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Summer shoes have stolen my heart..

SS15 Shoes Collage

Having recently been asked by various friends and relatives for birthday wishlist pointers, I took the opportunity to browse the shoe sections of some of my favourite footwear purveyors. 
Here are some of the pairs my feet would be very happy to receive for my birthday: 

001: These Miss KG sandals are have such a perfect springtime colour scheme. They remind me of ice creams and lollipops. Yes, my mind works in funny ways.

002: Yes, the height of these Irregular Choice wedges might be a little insane, (they're called Up In The Clouds, which is where I think I'd be if I wore them)but aren't they amazing?! I love the colour scheme. 

003: Flamingos seem to have grown on me, lately. The rest of the world too, it seems as there are just so many flamingo prints (and shoes) about. The first pair which caught my eye are these. Again, from Miss KG, the Dory sandal shows the flamingo head forming the back of the shoes. I think they're really effective.

004: I think these Steve Madden sandals might be the perfect finishing touch to an upcoming wedding outfit.Floral prints and embellishments; what's not to love?

005: MOAR flamingos. This time from Miss L'Fire. Having seen Roisin's new lobster sandals, I've been looking at the other styles and the Flamingo-a-gogo sandals are my winners.

Have you seen any amazing shoes, lately?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Sometimes I get so angry with the simple life they lead..

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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444 using this fabric)
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Earrings: via Instagram
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Tights: Primark
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Summer Freckles heels: Irregular Choice
I was recently treated to some fabrics from Japan and this past weekend seems to have been a rather productive one - I managed to get another few fabrics from my stash used up and also to finish two more dress commissions, which were posted off to their new homes on Monday. I'm quite excited to have been receiving a few more enquiries about making things, lately. Whilst I can't see sewing ever being my career, it's been helping a little recently whilst times have been a bit tough.

This fabric is a lovely, light cotton gauze and I really like the print, teeny tiny sheep being rounded up by teeny tiny sheep dogs.

I decided it didn't need a lot of styling up, and in my book green and pink have always been a colour combination I've favoured, so I wore these shoes and felt rather Spring-like.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Tuesday Titles 044: White

WHite
White - Rosie Thomas


A slightly topical novel today, although I picked it up and read it a few weeks ago now.

Finch Buchanan is a doctor, signed up to take part in a commercial venture to climb Everest, as the trip's medic and also involved in an inadvertant love triangle. One of the men, Sam has followed her and managed to sweet talk his way onto the expedition. The other is a man she met and fell in love with ten years ago, when he was married.

How will the strains of the physical challenge affect their relationships? And who will win Finch's heart?

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and was pleasantly surprised that the plot wasn't that predictable, nor was the content too unrealistic - it felt as though a lot of research had been done on the subject of the Everest attempt. That said, I have very little background knowledge on that kind of thing.

Rosie Thomas was an author I'd not read before, but I'll definitely be looking out for her books in the future. All in all a solid, enjoyable read and one I'd recommend.

Monday, 27 April 2015

#frockswap15 - Chloe's parcel..

Oops, it's been a while since my last #FrockSwap15 post - back here when I styled Donna's bird dress. This outfit kind of follows the theme as Chloe's offering for our swap is this duck print dress.

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Dress: Swapped with Chloe // Jacket: Primark

To style it up, I went for florals again, with these brightly coloured tights. I also went with a bright green leather jacket, so that the monochrome wasn't the only part of the outfit. My shoes, I kind of matched to the dress although the pretty little shoe clip bows are actually tiny elephants, not ducks. Close enough for me, though.

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Shoes: F+F // Shoe Clips: Gift from Kezzie
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Tights: Topshop
How would you style up this dress? I'll be sending it on to Ally this week, so we can see what she does with it. 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tell me a poem..

I read a fair number of books, but I can't recall the last time I actually read any poetry.

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One of the things which really made me think about this was that at the wedding I went to recently, the father of the bride made a speech which included a rather beautiful poem. And it got me thinking that I would never be able to create anything like that because the only poems I can think of are the ones I had to study for GCSE English in that blasted anthology.

Now and again I catch a little of Poetry Please, when waiting for The Archers on Radio 4, and a couple of years ago Mrs Sock sent me a copy of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to read before we went to see the musical. But aside from that, I can think of no occasions where I've actively read a poem. And I feel as though I should. But where on earth does one start?

Apparently April is National Poetry Month (granted, that's in the US, but still). To celebrate, Grammarly have created this little quiz, which you can use to find out who your poetry BFF would be.






Do you read poetry? And if so, please send some recommendations my way. I'd love to broaden my reading horizons.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Red apple ski slope..

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Dress: Handmade (Sewaholic Cambie)
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Lucite Lovely heels: Irregular Choice

Finally, my first Cambie dress. I mostly made this at a sewing workshop a few weeks ago at Sew Me Something, in Stratford. Heather Jacks, winner of one of the Great British Sewing Bee, along with Jules (the shop's owner) gave us a lesson in fitting bodices. I learned a couple of new tricks, but sort of wish I'd taken a pattern I've had more trouble with in the past, as this didn't need a lot of reworking to make it fit OK. Also I got a little confused when I got it home and was finishing it off as it didn't seem to fit as well as I'd thought it had when I tried it on in the class.

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The ski print fabric was something I'd picked up at Abakhan just after Xmas with Alex. It was just in the bargain bin, listed as "sheeting fabric". I lined the bodice with some turquoise lining fabric. Mostly because that was all I had in my fabric trolley, but it did work quite well as it sort of picks out the blue flashes in the print of the fabric.

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Bag: Ollie and Nic
Styling it up didn't take a lot of doing, really. I've not used this bag in oh so long, so it was high time I took it out for a spin. And I can't remember the last time I wore this trench coat. It's so full-skirted, I think it's totally perfect for popping on over dresses like this. The shoes are a pair I've had for years now.

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Coat: F+F
 Any fellow sewing fans made the Cambie? I rather liked the way the pattern went together; so simple and yet the gathered sleeve front detail is just so effective. Definitely one to make a few more of, when my sewing machine is back from the repair shop.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday Favourites 141..

Lapute Red Rose
001: Lapute Red Leather Rose Necklace, £35
Lapute Mint Rose
002: Lapute Mint Leather Statement Necklace, £35.51
I love it when I find a new and wonderful brand and I'm so excited about this one. Lapute make the most beautiful statement necklaces, featuring handmade leather flowers.

001: Red roses are timeless. Poetry and general life tells us that - just think how popular they always seem to be in the world of romance. This necklace would be a timeless addition to my jewellery box, and I love the bright blood red colour.

002: For something a little different, this mint and white combination would be perfect. It's not a secret that I love pastels, and I really love the tassels interspersed with the roses on this piece.

I'm thinking of asking for one of these for my birthday, but I see a problem. How's a girl to choose?

What are you wishing for this week?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Book Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin



I found this book utterly charming. Bookseller in a small town, A.J. Fikry is down on his luck. A recent widower, to begin with A.J. seems truly set in his ways, telling a publisher’s rep that he knows what he likes and he won’t be swayed.
How then, will he react to the arrival of a baby in his bookshop? Surely this is not the beginning of a lengthy relationship, is it? A.J. seems to surprise everyone, not least himself, with his decision to look after the baby who has been left in his care. Maya’s arrival seems to be just what he needs and not only does it help A.J. to get his life in order, but it seems to bring the whole town closer together.
Each chapter begins with a short book review, with A.J.’s thoughts on the book itself with the reason he has chosen to include it. Before long, it becomes apparent that the works he is collecting are for Maya.
As the story moves on, facts fall into place about Maya’s history and also about the mystery of the missing book. One plot twist came as a total surprise to me, but I was rather glad it had happened. I found myself fully invested in the lives of A.J. and Maya throughout the book and without wanting to give anything away, I challenge anyone who reads this get to the end without feeling emotional.
I absolutely couldn’t fault this and have been recommending it to everyone I’ve spoken to since closing the back cover. If you only read one book this month, make it this one.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Your lovebird is flying away..

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Dress: Handmade (Sew Magazine Bette pattern)
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Alice heels: Boden

Another recent make: I finished this dress at the weekend and was trying to decide what to wear it with, when I saw someone at the wedding I attended, wearing these shoes. It reminded me that although I bought them back in December, I'd popped them away until the weather got a little nicer and....promptly forgot about them. I'm glad I dug them out, though - I really love them, and that's coming from someone who isn't often a fan of pointed toes.

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Half Pint Satchel: Brit-Stitch
I love the colours in this fabric, although it's more poly than cotton and it's quite static. I lined the bodice but not the skirt, which is a decision I might live to regret. I love the cheerful colours in the print, and decided I'd go with my pink Brit-Stitch satchel and a pink sequin collar to pick out the colour.

Here's hoping this lovely weather stays, as I have oh-so-much to be doing at the allotment this weekend, but I've a feeling it's set to turn.


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Sequin Collar: H+M

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

#ThatsSewGeorge

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Sailor Pin Ups Duvet Set : George*
Once in a while, there's a challenge doing the rounds which feels as though it was made for me. #ThatsSewGeorge is definitely one of those. Since I'm already a fan of George's fabulous bedding range, and have had my eye on this set for a while now, it took me no time at all to choose a duvet set to turn into a dress.
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Dress: Handmade (Sew Magazine "Bette" pattern) 

I've always been a little partial to the nautical trend - it's one of those super fallback trends which comes around like a faithful friend, year after year and every time it does, I embrace it. Mixtures of red, white and blue, stripes and anchors are all winners in my book. As are pin ups. So basically, what I'm saying is this duvet set is perfect. I was sent two - one to give my room a little nautical makeover (along with some matching cushions and a cutesy storage box which I'm using for all of those "things" you keep on the bedside table which have no other proper home. Hairgrips, mostly.

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Hello Sailor Cushion // Sailor Girl Cushion : George*
And with the second duvet set, I made up another of my current favourite pattern - this Bette dress, which was a free pattern with a recent issue of Sew Magazine. (I was sent it by a friend - I didn't break my spending ban!) This is 'upcycling' at it's finest, right?

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Heart Pillbox: It's Fab Darling

I decided on a gathered skirt, using the full width of the duvet cover and positioned my skirt sections accordingly, to try and make the most of the pattern. I liked the effect of the striped bodice with the anchors and I think this bodice shows off my very best ever pattern-matching to get those stripes running all the way around. The pin-up girl print is quite large, so I kept it to the skirt as I didn't want to lose any of those little cuties to darts.

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Cardigan: H+M // Bag: Primark
So, when it was all together, I just had to figure out what to wear it with. I decided these heels were the perfect match for the fabric - stripes, hearts, check. And I carried the heart theme on with this amazing pillbox hat which my friend Emma made. She comes up with some amazing headwear designs.

I wore a petticoat under the skirt to show off the fullness, and finished things off with some red touches by way of my cardigan and a fairly plain, red bag. I really like how it's turned out.

What do you think?

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Love Me Tender heels: Office

Monday, 20 April 2015

Stress busters..?

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Black Iris Flamingo Candle*
I know I've mentioned several times that I've been feeling rather stressed over the past few weeks. A couple of days down at the bottom of the country for Rosie's wedding helped to take my mind off things a little this weekend, but as soon as I got home, I could feel the stress washing over me again like a familiar blanket.

I've been struggling a little with how to combat these feelings. In the past, when my stress and anxiety levels have been at their highest, I've been prescribed medication which is meant to help, but I'm not sure whether I want to go down that route again.

So, what else is out there? As I mentioned a few days ago I've been trying to learn to make more time for myself. Taking some time out with some music on, a book to read and a calming scented candle has featured heavily in my schedule over the past couple of days. I've been taking some tips from Stress Control: Stress-Busting Strategies For The 21st Century, which is giving me some new ideas.

I've also been doing a little research into dietary supplements. Having read this article recently, which seems to suggest that there are links between stomach issues and anxiety, depression and OCD, I'm starting to wonder lately if the stomach pains I've been living with for the past few years might be linked to stress, rather than being caused by a food intolerance. According to the article I read, Bimuno seem to be the prebiotics to try, as they were the only prebiotic which showed positive results when it came to reducing anxiety. Anything which takes me one step closer to finding the cause is good in my book, so I'm going to give the pastilles a try, in the hope that they might supplement my diet and help, even if just a little to give me a much-needed immune system boost.

Here's hoping this could be something which helps. Does anyone take regular dietary supplements?

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Faking cheerful.

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Scrumptious wedges: Office
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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444)
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Cardigan: F+F // Necklace: Topshop


I'm well aware that I've not left it long since posting this dress, but when you're feeling rotten, sometimes it helps to wear something you like. And that's what I did here. 

A dress I like, as the elephant print makes me cheerful. 
Some shoes I like because they make me tall and are super comfy. 
And a necklace I like (although it's barely visible).

It didn't really work, but at least I left the house.  

Saturday, 18 April 2015

And...relax.

It's no secret that I've been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I have been reading a rather good book on controlling stress, which I'll be reviewing soon. And I'm trying to take note.

Learning to allow myself time for the things which help me to relax has been a pretty big step for me. I'm kind of hopeless at it; I'm not sure if it's that I see myself as a bit of a failure for needing to take time for myself, or whether I think there are other things I ought to be spending my time doing which are somehow more..worthy?

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Triceratops Creature Cup*
Anyway, I decided enough was enough and allowed myself a few hours where I could just take some time out and relax. Luckily, it meant I got the chance to try out some of the things Flamingo Gifts sent to me in a little parcel of loveliness at Easter.

I basically live on coffee, so a new mug was always going to go down well. This Creature Cup has a triceratops inside, so it's kind of hiding in your coffee.

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Cat Phoney*
I put some music on as I find this really relaxes me. My iPod is ancient and I keep thinking I'll replace it for something a little newer when it finally gives up the ghost, but it's still hanging on and whilst it works it seems silly to upgrade it. This little cat is designed to keep the headphone socket on your phone or iPod free from dust, so it's kind of perfect for when I've got it in the speaker dock.

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Flamingo Paperclips* and Sticky Notes*
I took the opportunity of a moment of calm to catch up on some of my letter-writing, as I've been a bit lax for the past couple of weeks, after being on top of it all last month. These flamingo paperclips are perfect for keeping all of the pages of a long letter nice and neat, and I love the bright and colourful sticky notes - I'm always on the lookout for cute letter-writing bits and pieces to tuck into my envelopes.

How do you choose to spend your time when you need to relax?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday Favourites 140..

Deer Arrow Fox Brooch
001: Deer Arrow Fox Brooch, $17 AUD
Green Accordian Typewriter Brooch
002: Green Accordian Typewriter Brooch, £26.39
This week, it seems to be accessories which are catching my eye, and I have Instagram to thank for it. Lately I've seen both of these little beauties popping up on some of my favourite accounts, and I'd love to add them to my jewellery box. They'd make the perfect finishing touches to my summer outfits, that's for sure.

001: This cutesy fox reminds me so much of a cartoon I'd watch with my sister when we were little. I think I definitely need to give him a home for reasons of nostalgia.

002: I love the retro typewriter brooch and the fact that it's actually made from felt and beads. It took me a few looks to realise this.

What are you wishing for this week?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Just call me Little Red..

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Coat: Topshop
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Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444)
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Tights, Brogues: F+F
This week has been a particularly tough one. None of the external pressures I've been trying to keep at bay have gone away as such, it's just that now my brain seems to have decided that it's time for a total meltdown as well.

I've been feeling pretty low as an attack of the body blues takes hold of me. I can't escape the thoughts and frankly, on top of almost permanent exhaustion, don't know how to combat them. I've been resisting a change in medication for the last few visits to my GP, but I'm starting to wonder if it might be time to give in and make the change. It worries me, as I'm told all kinds of dreadful stories about the drug in question, but I doubt I'd be having it offered to me so readily if there wasn't something helpful there too.

Ugh. Such confusion. And constant sadness, combined with a complete lack of confidence in myself.

But, in other news, I rediscovered this coat and felt a little bit like Little Red Riding Hood.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

#BulbsforBulbs

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For the past few years I've been the proud (if somewhat overwhelmed) owner of an allotment close to my home. It's been something of a learning curve, but last year I managed to successfully grow a range of vegetables and it's a pretty good feeling to be eating something you've grown yourself.

One thing which I think would make my allotment life better would be a greenhouse, but that's a fairly big project and lately there have been other things which have had to take priority. So, for the seeds which can't be grown so easily directly sown into the ground, I tend to utilise my windowsills at home, grow the seedlings in the warmth and then transport them to the plot when they're a little bigger.
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The only problem with this is that I don't often receive a lot of direct sunlight - my windows don't seem to face the right way for that. Luckily, Lightbulbs Direct had a solution for me. They sent me a gardening parcel with one of their LED lamps to try out. They have a little #BulbsforBulbs competition running, too, where you have to submit a photo of your indoor garden in order to be in with a chance of winning a hamper.

I've put it on a timer switch, so that the strawberry plants and the chive seeds they sent me will receive light for about 10hrs per day, as they would if they were outside (but a little warmer). They've been planted for a little while now, but I've not seen any signs of life. I have high hopes, though. How fab it will be to eat strawberries which I've grown myself!

Windowsill Garden

Here are the other bits I'm currently growing on the windowsill, all of which will be off to the plot when they're big enough. 

Are you growing anything this year?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tuesday Titles 043: Hausfrau

Hausfrau
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

I finished this book just over a week ago, and since then it's been haunting me. Seriously, there hasn't been a day when I've not been thinking about the ending, which was a bit of a shocking twist.

Anna Benz is a housewife. She is an American ex-pat who lives with her husband Bruno and their three children. She feels like an outsider; not speaking much of the local language and not being able to drive means she has to rely on other people - often her disapproving mother-in-law.

With Anna finding it more and more difficult to connect with any of the people in her life, I found it rather poignant that I struggled to connect with her as a character. I definitely think this is intentional.

The book is told over the course of three months, flicking back and forth from conversations between Anna and her psychiatrist, to memories of past events and to the present day. Anna embarks on a German course in order to feel more at home in her home country, as well as embarking on an affair to make her feel.

The flashbacks to previous events in Anna's life both helped me to understand her emotional position, as well as helping me to better understand her as a character. I think any woman who has ever loved and lost will be able to relate to Anna.

I mentioned that the ending was shocking, and whilst I stand by that, I also think it was sort of perfect. I don't want to say a lot more for fear of spoiling it, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, having not been convinced I would from the first couple of pages.