Tuesday, 15 May 2012

"I'd like to thank my manager, my fans, my mum..."

Fonts: Contribute, Mossy

Hello peeps,

I haven't posted on this site for a while since I am trying to fully move over to my new and improved Wordpress site - I hope you've managed to find me over there! But I wanted to add a quick post here since I've just found a comment from the lovely Modflowers on this site which tells me that I've been given a Liebster Award, hooray! I don't mean to brag but I've actually been awarded a couple of other blog awards recently too, a Versatile Blogger award and a Yostie as well, by my blogging buddy Louise from Laid Off Mom.

I am so touched and flattered by these nominations. Sometimes I am surprised to remember that anyone is reading my posts, and to know that there are people who would want to nominate me for an award is so special, thank you ladies! I am going to post properly about these awards, and pass them on, over on the new site (www.heynicecardigan.org) but I didn't want them to check here and think I had not acknowledged them.

Happy days!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Girl Crushing Pt. 4: Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to say that my love for Jennifer Lawrence is high minded and intellectual but I have never seen any of her films (nothing personal, when you have a baby you just don't get to the cinema much). All I know of her is photos online and in magazines, and so my love for her is based purely on her stunning face and beautiful figure. I was incredulous when there was a recent "debate" about JL's weight - I mean, what???? She isn't remotely fat as far as I can see, not even like those plus-size models who are in fact still smaller than the UK average. She has a fantastic figure and I hope she doesn't listen to any of the absurd commentary about her size. Honestly, are people mad? She is a total hottie and I love her.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Four Things: Songs for my Baby Sister's Birthday

Four Things: For Rosie by Amy Warner on GroovesharkThis week is my youngest sister, Rosie's birthday, so I wanted to write a blog post dedicated to her. I like to think of these music posts like little mini compilation tapes (there's a modern reference for the kids...) that I can create for special people and to remind me of special times. I think with youngest children in particular it is always hard to get past seeing them as being a little kid all their life, but my little sis is now an amazing woman, with a home and a husband of her own. In some ways she's probably more grown up than I am! I always call her a Tiny Tiger because she is so determined and feisty, she's someone who always achieves what she sets her mind to and never lets anything beat her. Here are four songs that always remind me of her:

1. The Cat Empire, "Hello": In her gap year before going to university, Rosie went to Australia for the best part of a year, and I think this is where she heard of The Cat Empire, who are an Australian band. Years later we managed to get tickets to go and see them for her birthday and it was such a great night. This is real party music, super sunny and upbeat, ideal for parties, barbecues and festivals. I always think of Rosie whenever I hear them, and particularly the "Hello, hello, hello" refrain of this song.

2. Ben Folds Five, "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces": Ben Folds Five are a family favourite in our family, and Rosie really loves them. I could have picked almost any BF5 song for her, but picked this one since we often tease her about her "anger issues" - which is probably what makes her so angry...

3. Barenaked Ladies, "If I Had $1,000,000": Barenaked Ladies are another favourite of my little sister, and a band who aren't as popular in the UK as I think they were in the USA. I'm not sure how Rosie got into them but they are a band I always associate with her, and this is one of their catchiest songs.

4. Jeeves and Wooster Soundtrack, "The Blue Room": When we were young, our Dad had the Jeeves and Wooster Soundtrack on a tape and we used to listen to it all the time in the car. It is hilarious, and now hard to get on CD (but available to download). We knew all the songs and bits of dialogue in between them, and invented elaborate stories to go along with the instrumentals from the series. But the reason I particularly wanted to add this song isn't just because of its childhood associations. It is also because this is one of the two songs that Rosie sang at our wedding ceremony. She is a trained choral singer who has sung professionally and her voice is a remarkable instrument. Dan and I are not religious (though Rosie and her husband Paul are very involved in their church) so we chose to have a registry office wedding. Because of this the music we used couldn't be religious. I really wanted Rosie to sing at our wedding, but the civil ceremony meant that her usual church music repertoire was out. I asked her to come up with something secular but appropriate and this was one of the songs she sang. It was a magical part of our wedding day that she performed, and a brilliant gift that only she could give us.

Happy birthday little Raad, I love you!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Cardigan Is On The Move!

In my post on Monday I mentioned that I am moving this blog from Blogger to a Wordpress powered site. I have been tinkering with the new Wordpress site for a week or so now, and feel like its time to let it go semi-live, so if you would like to pop over it is currently at www.heynicecardigan.org . This has necessitated a new design, which I hope you like!

I plan to leave this Blogger site up at www.heynicecardigan.blogspot.com for the foreseeable future since the hosting is free (and I put a lot of work into the design!). Ultimately the new Wordpress site will be transferred to www.heynicecardigan.com, but for the time being there is going to be a delay in transferring the .com domain name, so the Wordpress site is at www.heynicecardigan.org, and www.heynicecardigan.com will redirect to the Blogger domain for the next week or so. Next week I will change it so that if you visit www.heynicecardigan.com it will redirect to WP.

Sorry, this is so technical and boring! In short: old site = www.heynicecardigan.blogspot.com, new temporary site = www.heynicecardigan.org, long term site address will stay as www.heynicecardigan.com

This is a bit of a transitional period for this blog, so I hope you will bear with me while I am between URLs. I am confident that the move to Wordpress will allow me to build a better blog long term and develop new functionality, which is really exciting. However I know that this situation with several web addresses isn't ideal and I'm sorry for any annoyance all this business might cause you, it is all pretty tiresome isn't it? Hopefully we will resume full service with the Wordpress powered site at the .com address soon! I'll keep you posted...

Girl Crushing, Pt. 3: Carey Mulligan

Just look at her! I mean, isn't she just too, too cute? I love a sweet pixie cut - probably because with my big round moon face I will NEVER suit on myself so they are the haircut holy grail to me - and I really love that fact that she is a beautiful young actress who doesn't feel the need to dress like a stripper and turn up to premieres with everything hanging out. Right, Grandma rant over! Enjoy these pictures of Carey Mulligan, this week's Girl Crush, and her lovely face.

Monday, 30 April 2012

My Instagram Week: Double Edition!

Hello friends! We just got back from our holidays today and I thought you might like to see some pictures of what we've been up to. This is a special double edition since I got so many pictures I love when we were at the seaside I wanted to share lots of them with you. The weather wasn't great but we made the most of a sunny day on Tuesday to take baby Joe to the seaside for the first time. All the pictures above are from our afternoon at Lulworth Cove, which is a beautiful little seaside village with a fantastic sheltered beach. As you can probably tell, the pictures above also gave me a chance to try lots of iPhone photo apps for different filters and effects. I am always amazed at the great photos you can take on a phone these days, and since we lost the battery charger for our camera, my phone became our only source for holiday pictures.

  1. Lulworth Cove beach
  2. Locally caught crabs on sale at the beachside fish shop. We bought freshly caught local plaice and had them for our dinner that night.
  3. The fish shop blackboard
  4. Me almost getting my feet wet in the sea.
  5. You can't go to the seaside without getting an ice-cream cone. I hadn't had mint choc chip for years!
  6. The amazing cliffs at Lulworth, which is part of Dorset's Jurassic Coast. The scenery is incredible and there are lots of places to go fossil hunting - I think Joe will love this when he's a bit bigger.
  7. The Lulworth Bucket Tree. I have no idea of the story behind this tree but I love it! They have a collection box there to raise money for charity as well.
  8. A scallop shell found for me by my two boys.
  9. Those same two boys having a paddle in the sea. What a handsome pair!

  1. The picturesque village of Corfe Castle. I put this through a miniaturise filter but even in real life it looks like a model village.
  2. Corfe Castle, an amazing ruined castle you can visit. We come here every time we are in Dorset, it is so brilliant and atmospheric.
  3. Dan and Joe exploring Corfe Castle.
  4. It was a rainy day on Wednesday so we took Joe to a soft play centre in Dorchester. He is only little but he loves to climb!
  5. Swallows Cottage in Bere Regis, where we were staying.
  6. Joe in the ball pool at soft play. It was nice to do something just for him, so we all got to do our favourite things on holiday.
  7. On Thursday night we banned TV and laptops, so we listened to Adam and Joe Show podcasts from their old BBC 6 Music show, which never fail to make us cry with laughter, and did this Kings and Queens jigsaw puzzle! It turned into a really funny night and reminded me that it is good to force yourself to have some screen-free quality time together.
  8. Joe has started really walking properly in the last few days. This is him in the pub with Dan's Mum, having so much fun walking like a big boy. We left Dorset on Friday and had a few days with Dan's parents, who live in the neighbouring county of Somerset. The pub up the road from them is the Five Dials in Horton. It is really great and family friendly, Joe had lots of fun meeting all the regulars and trying the local cider! They also do great food, including probably the best triple cooked chips I've ever had, I would definitely recommend a visit if you're ever in the area.
  9. Milk and Alcohol! (Do you know the Dr Feelgood song?)
We had a wonderful time on our holidays but we were all glad to get home today and back to normal. I have been brainstorming lots of ideas for this blog over the coming months, and am in the process of a move from Blogger to Wordpress. I'm still working on getting to know WP, but I'll let you know once we're ready to make the big transfer. Have you made the move from Blogger to self-hosted WP? I love to hear any tips you might have!

Friday, 27 April 2012

What Really Great People Do

Font: {Skinny} Jeans
Happy Friday! I hope you had a great week this week. As you know, we are on holiday this week, so I am writing this post to you from the past (spooky!).

I only post quotations here that I really love and try to live by myself, and I find putting this post together each week really inspiring myself. I love this quotation because I hate it when people try to make themselves look better by putting others down. I am not saying I'm perfect and I have probably done this myself - it often feels like an instinctive way to act when you are feeling insecure. But I aspire to being secure enough in myself and what I do that I don't need to belittle anyone to make myself feel more important. There is room for everyone to be great together, and tearing down other people's work won't make yours better.

I love how supportive the blogging community has been to me so far, and I am all for collaboration, sharing and generosity. We are all stronger when we work together and support each other! Be really great this weekend,

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Beautiful Book Covers

Hello friend! Every so often I like to share my collections with you (like my Champagne cork collection). Today I thought you might like to see my book collection. Now let's be specific: I have lots of books - too many perhaps - and I don't think of these as a collection: books are just something you have in your home, as far as I am concerned. My collection is specifically book covers (only I love books too much to part a book from its cover so they stay whole). I am always on the lookout in charity shops and jumble sales for books with beautiful and unusual covers. I like to display these at the front of my book shelves with the cover facing out, so that they make a pretty display for my home. Some are just so beautiful, others hilariously funny, whether for the design or the title.

Font: Lullaby
For example, I just had to buy "Spinsters in Jeopardy" when I found it in the Oxfam Bookshop in St Albans, the graphic design grabs you but the title is a classic! And that Jilly Cooper cover is just so cheesy, I couldn't believe it when I saw it. Only a Girl Wife was a gift to me from my sweet husband, probably a reference to the fact that I am SLIGHTLY older than him (as he likes to remind me...).

I think it is such a shame when beautiful book cover art is hidden on the shelf, and love seeing these great designs on the bookshelf every time I walk down our stairs. I have been thinking about ways to display then around my home, perhaps putting up shallow picture shelves like these ones from Ikea, so I could make an every changing display. If you love books too, why not pick a few favourites and use them as lively and unique art for your home?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Girl Crushing, Pt. 2: Gemma Arterton

A very classic pick this week. Gemma Arterton is one of those girls where you often mention her to other women and they go "Oh my god, she's SO beautiful". I wonder if us straight girls are her largest fan demographic? Anyway, just look, she is so lovely, one of those classic film star beauties that I think stands up to the old stars of the 40s and 50s. Her face! Swoon.

What do you think, do today's stars compare to movie stars from the golden age of Hollywood?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Four Things: Luxurious Beauty Gifts for New Mothers

In my experience, when you have a baby, you get showered in cards and gifts, but they are usually for the baby (pah!). Just after giving birth, I felt amazed and proud, but also exhausted and not looking my best, to say the least. I received some really lovely beauty products as new mum gifts and I appreciated them so much. It is nice to have treats that are just for you, and things that either help you feel or look better when you are in just about the least glamorous state it is possible to be in (that's how it was for me anyway...). If you have a friend who is just about to have a baby, I would recommend any of these as luxurious beauty treats for her:

1. Garnier Caffeine Eye Roll-On: It's no surprise that new mums are often in need of regular caffeine injections - I have never known tiredness like it - but did you know you can put it on your eyes too? To be honest, I think the thing I really love about this product is the applicator, the cooling and massaging properties of the roller ball are brilliant. The online reviews of this product seem to be a bit mixed, and I don't know if it makes a long term difference to eye bags, but it does give you an instant refreshing lift which can perk you up when you feel like your eyeballs need washing out.

2. YSL Touche Eclat: Almost everyone has heard of this cult beauty product, but the classics are classics for a reason. This is another instant lift product for times when you don't have a lot of time or energy but want to perk yourself up, or just make yourself look a little more presentable. The packaging and satisfying click button operation make this feel like a super-luxurious product and a real treat.

3. Luxurious bath oils: I love a hot bath at the best of times, but it is a super-duper treat in those early weeks when you have a newborn and seem to get very little time to yourself. Ideally, you need to accompany this gift with the promise to take the baby out of earshot for the duration of the bath. I love Aromatherapy Associates bath oils, though they are pretty expensive, but their Deep Relax Bath and Shower Oil always wins awards and gets rave reviews for its almost narcotic relaxing properties.

4. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm: A totally beauty classic, one of those products that is recommended time and again by beauty experts and magazine articles and has one about a million awards. I have no idea how it works, but it makes your skin instantly look and feel tighter and fresher, and it smells delicious - I'm sure the scent is as much part of the treatment as any of the ingredients. I found this a perfect gift for when you have a new baby since it is easy to apply, almost instant and is a great product for those times when you don't have the energy to put on makeup (or wash...) but want to freshen up and smarten up, perhaps when you have guests coming.

Accompany any of these products with a large bar of chocolate and you have a gift that will make a new mum feel special and a little bit more feminine and glamourous. Incidentally, I would be thrilled to get given any of these at any time, new baby or not... : )

Monday, 23 April 2012

We're All Going On A (Not Quite) Summer Holiday

I just thought I'd let you know that this week the Warner family are on holiday in Dorset (at the same cottage we went to for our honeymoon, did you see this post?). I'm so excited about our break, and I'm hoping we'll have good weather and can take baby Joe to paddle in the river and build sand castles at the seaside. Last time we took him there he was only a couple of months old, hopefully this time he'll be able to appreciate things a bit more!

I'm planning on posting about what we see and do (and eat!) once we're back, but in the meantime I have got this week's posts all done in advance so you will still have lots to read and look at while I'm away. I wanted to keep you in the loop so you know that replies to blog comments, emails and tweets might be a bit more delayed than usual - I am not sure I have the strength to go totally internet free for a whole week, but I won't be online as much as usual, which is probably a very good thing for me! I will try to catch up with everything I miss ASAP once we get back, and I should think I will still be posting photos on Instagram if you want to see what we get up to on our travels (I'm @heynicecardigan if you want to follow me).

Have a great week! Bon Voyage!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

My First Guest Post!

Hello! Just to let you know that today I have written a guest post for my friend Rosie's blog, (do you remember, I blogged about her here recently too) all about our recent inspiration trip to London. Hop on over and check out all the pretty things we saw!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

My Week in Instagrams

It's Saturday, no school today, here's what we're gonna do... Look at my Instagrams from this week!

  1. Last weekend we had our first night without baby Joe. He stayed at my parents' house and we had Whisky Sours - and a lie in!
  2. Croissants for breakfast the morning after, though the most priceless part of this was not having to feed a baby at the same time.
  3. With cocktails, you need nibbles for a real party.
  4. Last Sunday it was Dan's Grandad's 90th birthday so we drove down to south east London on Sunday. This is the view as you go into the Blackwall Tunnel, which takes you under the River Thames and into South London, where both Dan and my families originally came from.
  5. The view from bed on a sunny day.
  6. Dan and I managed to get a coffee date just the two of us this week as well, so lucky!
  7. All the blossom's on the cherry trees this week, so pretty.
  8. Dan is an amazing baker - I might try and get him to do some guest posts on his bread some time - and this is the type of bread he makes for our family just for every day. I don't know how I managed to get so lucky with my wonderful man, he's the best!
  9. I saw these pretty forget-me-nots on a walk yesterday, I love that sweet blue shade.
So there we go, a visual guide to the last week as I saw it. I hope yours was wonderful and that you have a great weekend planned. Rain, rain, go away!

Friday, 20 April 2012

As Happy As You Choose To Be

Font: Dingleberry
Following on from my post earlier this week about gratitude, I thought this quotation was a good thought to hold close. I know that sometimes life really throws you some tough stuff to deal with, but a lot of the time being happy is as much about how you chose to look at things as it is about your objective circumstances. We all know people who seem to be amazingly happy despite tough circumstances, and I am always inspired most by people whose positive attitude is infectious and seemingly unassailable. It isn't always easy, keeping positive takes discipline and hard work at times but  I really believe being happy is as much about how you think as what you have.

This weekend I am making up my mind to be happy, how about you?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

What's In My... Makeup Bag?

I am writing the post on the assumption that other people are as nosy as I am. I love looking through other people's makeup bags (I mean with permission, I'm not THAT nosy...) and finding out about products that work for them. If you met me you wouldn't necessarily guess from my appearance that I love cosmetics. The products, the advertising, the satisfying click when you close an expensive compact. I just love everything about the world of make up, there is just something so glamourous and ladylike and grown up about nice cosmetics. I know that a lot of the time I am buying into an impossible dream - as I say, if you saw me you would wonder if I was familiar with a hairbrush some days, let alone a lipstick - but I don't care, they are a relatively harmless pleasure, all things considered. Anyway, since we are all friends here, I thought you might be curious to know about what I carry in my basic makeup kit. Also, I make no apologies for the "Jackie Collins bonkbuster" styling of these photos, leopard and lace is a GREAT look!
By the way, this is not all of the makeup I own, but it is the stuff that I use pretty much every time I put on makeup (about once a month these days), and I have refined this collection through years of trial and error and meticulous research. Makeup is a pretty subjective thing, but I hope these recommendations might give you a few pointers towards some new products that you can love too.

Part one of my basic makeup is the base. These days I always start with Estee Lauder Double Wear Light (1) in Intensity 1.0. I discovered this when researching makeup for my wedding day (I did my own makeup on the day). A lot of people had recommended the original Double Wear foundation as one of the best long wearing foundations, but at the Estee Lauder counter the lady recommended that DW Light was better for weddings since it looked better in photographs. I was initially concerned that I needed fuller coverage than a 'light' foundation could provide, and imaged it would be more like a tinted moisturiser, but in fact  I find that this provides great coverage for my skin, which can be variable. And if you let a tiny dot dry a little on the back of your hand, it thickens up enough that I often use a little dab of this on top as a concealer. I am really happy with the consistency, colour, coverage, everything to do with this foundation. Ideally I wish it was a little cheaper, but I find it lasts well and a little goes a long way, and I definitely feel that foundation is one of the items of makeup that is worth spending a bit more on.

In terms on concealer I also use this Boots Number 7 Instant Radiance Concealer (2) under my eyes and perhaps around my nose. No offence to this product, which is great, but I do think of it as the poor woman's YSL Touche Eclat, which was the original 'clickey brush' concealer. These kind of concealers that say they add radiance (there are several brands that do them) are great for under eye shadows but too bright for covering spots and blemishes I find - those are not areas where you want to add radiance! 

Once I am happy with my base, the next stage is to add a little shine, though I mean very sparingly! This little tube (3) is a Body Shop gold highlighter cream (maybe a precursor to this product now?) that I don't think they make any more, that's how old it is. I should add that I am a terrible role model when it comes to keeping cosmetics for a long time. I have never paid much attention to all those bits of advice about throwing products out after 6 months or a year. I can only speak for myself, but I tend to keep things until I finish them, unless their consistency has changed, they smell funny or have dried up. Hence, I have the odd product like this that is older than I care to admit, but since I only use a tiny smidge each time - the aim is dewy radiance rather than disco glitter. I apply this to the tops of my cheekbones, my brow bone, perhaps the outer edge of my eyes and the inner corners of my eyelids. As I say, go slowly and be sparing, otherwise you'll look like one of the women from the start of Goldfinger.

After highlighter comes blusher. I use one of two Benefit products: Benetint cheek and lip stain (4) or this Powder Pop compact (5) which I think was limited edition and combines three of their best-selling blush/bronzer products - Hoola, Dallas, and Dandelion - with a mini brush as well. I already had the large size of Dandelion, which I totally recommend as a brightening pink blush, but I find this compact is very convenient for carrying in my makeup bag rather than separate blusher and bronzer. The bottle of Benetint is also a mini size which I got free with a magazine. It is super dinky and really handy for popping in your bag. I think the powder blushers give a more polished look but the Benetint is great for a more natural flushed look.

Of the three powders, I use Dallas the most, which I think of as a cross between a blusher and a bronzer. Though it comes with a brush, as you can see, I tend to use this larger retractable blusher brush (6) from Sephora instead since I live in fear of hard lines of stripy blusher, 80's style, so I think the larger and softer the brush the better, and retractable means it stays clean and tidy in my makeup bag. I bought this brush years ago in America and I don't think you can get it in the UK, but I'm sure you can get similar things. 

With my base done, I can move on to eyes and lips. I often put a thin layer of foundation on my eyelids to help my eye makeup last, but if I need my makeup to last all day I use this Clinique Touch Base for Eyes (1). I might also use this Laura Mercier Matte Eye Colour (2) in Buttercream to give a smooth light base for eye makeup. I then use these Clinique Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo (3) in Double Date (another mini, this time a free gift with another Clinique purchase). I love the pretty pots of brightly coloured eye shadows, but boring brown is a useful basic to have for contouring and shading, and I although I got this one by chance as a free gift I am very happy with the taupey, beigey colours and how well it lasts. Like my blusher brush, this eye shadow brush (4) from the Body Shop is retractable. Brushes work so so so much better than those little foam applicators that usually come with eye shadows and you only need one or two good ones, I would urge you to invest in one. If I want more definition I may apply black liquid liner. This one is Liner Pinceau by Bourjois (5). I have tried the more expensive gel and cream liners that come in pots, but I have come back to this cheaper one which I really like, and find easier to apply. I am all for paying for quality, but the best product for you isn't always the most expensive. The final touch is to curl my lashes (6) and apply mascara. These two are Max Factor Masterpiece Mascara (8) in black. This is the waterproof version that I bought for my wedding, after extensive research in wedding magazines. I am happy enough with it, and it worked well for my wedding day, but most of the time I don't need to wear waterproof mascara and find it harder to apply so I also use this non-waterproof one by L'Oreal (7), again in black, which is ok, but I am in the market for a replacement, if you have any recommendations? I have used Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara before, and was also thinking of trying our Maybeline Great Lash, which always gets great reviews. I don't usually wear makeup, but I might apply a bit of Benetint on my lips for a hint of colour, and top it off with a layer of good old Vaseline.

So there you go, my whole process from start to finish. The last thing I wanted to share with you is this little tine which I use for carrying cotton buds in my makeup bag. I find them essential for precise tidy ups, especially with eye makeup, but always found they got grubby and horrible at the bottom of my bag. But then I discovered this little tin, originally containing mints from Starbucks. It fits my cotton buds perfectly and keeps them fresh and clean on the go. I was so pleased with this little trick so I wanted to share it with you, especially if you've kept reading all the way to the bottom of this long post!

I hope you've found this sneak peak interesting. I'd love to hear about our favourite cosmetics and makeup tips.

PS. This font is Channel and the lace brush is by Nadine Pau on Deviant Art

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Girl Crushing, Pt. 1: Michelle Williams

I am a happily married lady, but I can still admire a lovely face. I often find myself developing a little crush on beautiful ladies I admire for whatever reason. I thought you might like to share, and enjoy looking at beautiful faces with me. Here, in part one of this new series, is Michelle Williams who is also, by coincidence, my birthday twin. Ah Michelle, ma belle... There is something so dignified and serene about her, I really admire her quiet, thoughtful intelligence and demure, ladylike style. And to think, I never warmed to her on Dawson' Creek (yes, I watched DC, and I'm not ashamed!).

Do you like a little eye candy? Who's your latest girl crush? Let's share!

PS. This post in undeniably inspired (ahem...) by a blog I love called Got A Girl Crush. If like me, you love to look at beautiful pictures of amazing ladies to admire and inspire, you should add it to your daily reads. I also have a Pinterest board devoted to beautiful people, which you can find here.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Four Things: Fresh Scents for Spring Days

I love perfumes and find it such an interesting area of beauty, the process of creating classic fragrances is so complex and skilled. There is something so subtle and magical about the way a scent can instantly transport you to a certain moment in time, or evoke a certain feeling (I can't be the only one who is instantly transported back to their teenage years every time I smell an Impulse body spray, or a strong whiff of Lynx!!). When the weather turns brighter around this time of year, I always want to wear a fragrance that is as fresh and clean as a spring breeze. These are four of my favourites:

1. Hermes Eau Des Merveilles
This is my absolute number one fragrance and I will love it forever and ever. I spent ages (I mean YEARS) searching for a signature fragrance and I finally found this one about 5 years ago. It is often described as smelling salty, which seems a bit weird at first because you don't think of slat having a smell, but it is like a fresh sea breeze. I can't think of a better way to describe this fragrance, it isn't fruity or floral, it is just clean and fresh and bracing, and unlike any other perfume I have ever come across.

2. Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin Cologne
This is a fragrance I have been stealing from my Mum for ages, and today she gave me the rest of her bottle (my Mum is someone who buys a lot of new perfumes and beauty products and them moves on from lots of them quite quickly, so there are often bits and pieces going spare, hooray!). I love colognes for every day, they are lighter and fresher than perfumes as a rule, and also, happily, cheaper. An eau de cologne usually has a fresh, clean fragrance, and the are nice to splash on after your shower. This one isn't as straighforwardly citrussy as the name might suggest, the basil aspect of the scent gives is a peppery-ness as well which makes it smell more complex. I think eau de colognes are not meant to last as well as the stronger eau de toilettes and eau de parfums but I find this one lasts really well. I believe this is one of Jo Malone's most popular fragrances and deservedly so, I can't imagine anyone not liking this fresh, clean, modern classic.

3. Acqua Di Parma Colonia
Another cologne, and this time a real classic, created in 1916. This is a unisex fragrance, as most colognes are, and has lots of citrus and herbal green notes. I think part of the appeal of this fragrance, aside from it smelling wonderful, is the idea of classic Italian sophistication and old-fashioned, proper grooming - it is amazing the powerful world of imagination that a great perfume can create.

4. Clarins Eau Dynamisante
A few years ago - probably before I discovered Eau Des Merveilles - I used to wear Eau Dynamisante all the time, it was definitely my daily perfume. Clarins classify this as one of their Treatment Fragrances, and describe it as a "mood-lifting essence... an instant antidote to exhaustion or stress". I think that sense, any good perfume is a treatment, in the sense that it can affect your mood and set a tone. It is another fresh cologne-type scent to splash on in the morning before you dress, and I always found it energising and invigorating, a definite morning fragrance.

I hope maybe this post will inspire you to try out some of these fragrances, and maybe get a fresh new scent for the spring. What are your favourite fresh clean fragrances?

Monday, 16 April 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

Font: Kraft Nine
I have been thinking a lot recently about how lucky I am. I know it sounds a little cheesy but I often find myself thinking about this recently. I feel like at the moment my life is so lovely I can't quite believe it, and sometimes find myself thinking "surely no-one gets to be this lucky, something must go wrong some time soon".

I know this is a crazy way to think and it is mad to find something to worry about even when things are so good, but in the mean time I think it never hurts to appreciate what you have: I am young(ish!!), strong and healthy, I have a wonderful husband who I love very much, a beautiful little baby who was concieved without any trouble or stress, a nice house to live in in an area we came to live in quite by chance but absolutely love. I have a fantastic family who mostly live relatively nearby and parents who help us so much with baby Joe, babysitting and looking after him so Dan and I can get some time to ourselves. Because Dan works from home, it means we get to spend tonnes of time together as a family, and I don't have to deal with the loneliness and isolation that lots of stay-at-home mums do. Dan helps me so much with Joe, which is great for me and great for their relationship. A few years ago I could never have believed that I would be where I am now. Somehow I have managed to get everything I ever wanted. Now if that's not a very lovely and fortunate life, I don't know what is.

Lots of people don't have half as much as we do, and plenty of people who are richer in financial terms wish they had the time and happy family situation that we have. Sometimes when we visit friends with larger houses and fancier holidays than we have it is easy to wish we were wealthier and had more, but we are so amazingly rich in time instead, and most of the people I know with more money than us have paid for it in the time they have. I don't mean to sound pollyanna-ish about things, I am very aware that these are tough times for many many people, but there is so much to be grateful for, and it is all too easy to lose sight of the good things we have.

I hope this doesn't come across as horribly smug, I really don't mean it to. One of the things I was always sure about from the outset of starting this blog is that I really want it to be positive, optimistic, creative and inspiring. This doesn't mean that in real life I am always positive or optimistic - anyone who knows me will tell you I can be as cynical and pessimistic as the next person, but that isn't something I want to put my time and energy into sharing or developing, and it isn't something I imagine many people would rush to read.

I think that cynicism and negativity are often falsely perceived as cleverer and more intellectual ways to see the world, with the idea that the optimist is simply naive and doesn't perceive the problems an pessimist can see. I don't mean to blow my own trumpet, but I am an intelligent person with a degree from one of the UKs top universities and I really strongly disagree with this idea: I find it is much more challenging to work on being positive and constructive than picking holes in things and moaning. These are often just the lazy alternative to trying to really do something, or risking failure or ridicule (which, as Adam Ant taught us, is nothing to be scared of!). In writing this blog, I am trying to work on living the most interesting life I can and being more positive, more inspired and more creative. If I can help other people do the same by sharing what I know and do then that is a wonderful thought.

This is a different kind of post to the ones I usually post, though don't worry, there will still be pretty pictures and cheerful chat again soon! I hope that maybe this post will inspire you to look at the little (and big) things you have in your life to be grateful for. And if you are currently feeling that you don't have much to be thankful for at the moment, then I hope things turn around for you soon.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

My Week In Instagrams

  1. Last weekend we took baby Joe to the farm shop near us, he loved seeing the chickens and rabbits they have there. It is such a great place to shop since you drive through the fields where most of their fruit and veg is grown to get to the shop. This pretty pink rhubarb caught my eye, it's one of my favourites.
  2. We bought a bargain bag of carrots so I made these delicious carrot cup cakes -anything tastes great when you put cream cheese icing on top of it! The recipe is from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess if you'd like to try making them yourself.
  3. I drank some of our sloe gin from last autumn with tonic and a slice of lime, delicious! I posted about how to make sole gin a while ago, read up now and get prepared for this autumn's sloe harvest.
  4. Easter weekend was last weekend. This is all that remains of my chocolate bunny...
  5. I love this sweet sewing box I got from an Oxfam shop in St Albans this week.
  6. I met my sister for soup, sandwiches, and exciting chat about working together on some projects for this blog.
  7. I was inspired by Emma who writes at Food Coma and A Beautiful Mess and posted recently about her green smoothie challenge. I tried one out myself, made with fresh spinach, frozen banana and pineapple. 
  8. On Friday we took a trip to the museum in Tring. It is part of the Natural History Museum (whose main museum is in London) and its full of stuffed animals. It is an amazing place to take children: here is Joe meeting a tiger.
  9. I love the pretty pastels that are so fashionable this spring. I thought I would try updating my look (!!!) with these sweet nail varnishes - a flash of fresh colour is always welcome!
So that's what my week looked like this week - very pink and green! I hope you had a great and colourful week too. Have a wonderful weekend,

Friday, 13 April 2012

Earn It First

Font: NeoRetroDraw | Dotted border brush: Pugly Pixel
Watercolour brush background made using brushes by Fudge Graphics
I admit it it, I am not always the most hard working person in the world. That's not to say I never work hard, but as I get older I realise how much I have always laboured under the misapprehension that if something is hard, it is a sign you shouldn't do it. That is to say, I aspired to a life of effortless brilliance and ease, avoiding things I wasn't naturally good at. But as I get older I realise that this is a) not true, and b) can prevent you from lots of good things in life.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that actually, hard work is not something to be feared, and having to put in a great effort shouldn't be taken as a sign that you are doing the wrong thing. Everyone who has ever achieved anything great has had to work hard to earn it, and it is the knowledge of deserving something that makes getting it all the sweeter. So this weekend, I am going to try to remember that nothing worth having comes easy, and try to remember how good it feels when you get where you're going and look back with pride at how you got there.

Have a great weekend, hard workers!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Free Stuff Is The Best Stuff!

As you may know if you have read this blog before, I am always on the lookout for great free resources to download, and free fonts are my favourite! If I find something great and free then of course I want to share it with you so here are some of my most recent discoveries. There is a real range of styles here - I was hunting for a nice italic serif fonts like you see so often in magazines, but I can't help getting distracted by a pretty hand drawn font so I often get a bit off course. I particularly love Maridavid since I was recently eyeing up another similar paid font but couldn't justify the cost and now I have found this lovely alternative.

Go wild and download them all (I did!)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Yeah, that's my sister!

Some of my favourite blogs are one where they are created by a group of friends. In particular, I am always so inspired by the way sisters Elsie and Emma work together on A Beautiful Mess. I have two younger sisters and I am really excited about hopefully getting them involved in some of my blogging projects. Today I met my sister Sarah (the middle sister) for lunch and we talked about doing some exciting blog projects in the next few months. She was also wearing a particularly nice cardigan and asked if I'd like to feature it here so I thought, why not?
Sarah and I are only 15 months apart in age so we've always been close. But I'm sure lots of you know what it's like, as you grow up and move to live in different towns, get busy jobs and busy lives (and then one of you gets married and has a baby!) it gets harder to spend time together. Sarah is trained in textiles and now teaches food technology at secondary school and works incredibly hard all through the school year. With both of our busy lives we don't get to hang out as much we used to, so I am really excited about the idea of working together on this blog as an excuse to spend more quality sister time together. Also, Sarah is really creative and has her own flat full of lovely things and rooms to photograph, things she and her talented friends have made, and a kitchen for baking tasty sisterly treats! I think it will add so much to this blog to have her involved since in some ways we are very similar, but in other ways our styles differ: Sarah is much more into a co-ordinated look while I am always a little more haphazard, and she is great at arranging things and making them look just so. You just wait, I'll show you soon!
Incidentally, how cool is her cardigan? It is fully reversible, so you can wear it with the grey side or the black side out (without having all the labels and seems sticking out!). She got it from a French Connection outlet shop near to where she lives. It is super-cute and just her style.

I know I keep saying it but I can't tell you how excited I am to collaborate with my lovely sister on some new projects, things are always more fun with two! I hope I will also be able to introduce you to our youngest sister, Rosie, soon too. Look out for some great sister posts in the next few months!