Thursday, 31 January 2013

Obsession: Ted Baker's Window Print

On my first day back at work after new year (I was at work alone for three days, it got boring!) I spent a good hour unsubscribing from all those "BUY OUR STUFF, AND BUY IT QUICKLY" emails clogging up my inbox. I was getting literally 20 or 30 a day. My bank account couldn't take it!

I kept a few though, ones that are just so pretty (MAC) or useful (ASOS) or ones where I can dream (Net a Porter).

Another one that I kept was the Ted Baker email. I think it's over-priced for what it is, so there's no fear of me accidentally buying something, but I do like to have a peruse of their stock as I love their use of colour and print, often resulting in the perfectly kitsch outfit... and we know I love kitsch!

Well, in their latest collection they have a number of pieces in this amazingly colourful window print. I think it's divine. But now the issue is what to actually purchase?

I'm too old for the shorts, too young for the silk scarf and just not in possesion of the right shaped body for the dress.

I love these shorts and adore the whole outfit....
...if it doesn't have a waist, it's just not for me...

... will I look like a 90 year old if I wear a silk scarf like this?

What to do, what to do?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

My Place (and Mr G's)

[Your] Place

Back in the summer I mentioned that we'd been getting on with some DIY, specifically in our lounge/diner, and had made a lot of decisions on the decor with the help and advice of my lovely, talented friend Laurawho happens to not only be a fabulous cook, crafter, photographer, fine artist and sounding board for any/all the crazy ideas that pop in to my head, but also a professional interior designer and architect**.

Laura was incredibly generous with her time and advice and helped me get all my very specific ideas and requirements in to some moodboards and 3D visuals to present to Mr G. He's pretty rubbish at imagining things, and doesn't really get "vision" or "imagine this" conversations. He needs props, pictures and mock ups to see how things will work and Laura basically made it possible for me to get his sign off and get going.

So, anyway, she only went took some funky pictures and blogged about it. What a star!

Go forth, check out her ideas and work at [Your] Place, Your Rules... and support her future plans!

* this is Laura's personal blog ** and this is her professional blog - you will find both very interesting!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Birthday cakes!

Last year I turned thirty. It was a big fat birthday. One I'd been looking forward to, genuinely, since I turned 26. 

26 is the end of your mid-twenties. All you have ahead is your late-twenties, your thirties (apparently "The New Twenties"), middle age and then a slide in to retirement while you save for a bio-degradable coffin and a sandwich buffet. Smashing.

My late twenties were a time I spent arguing with Mother Nature, Mr G, and myself. It was a "nothing" era. Well, ok, not nothing, beautiful babies were born (not to me), weddings were had (one by me), mortgages were issued (kind of to me), life plans were made (ish), amazing trips were booked and travelled (LOTS) and careers were defined (sort of), but still, I was itching to get to thirty. I couldn't wait for the cool stuff to start happening, you know – all that really cool stuff that happens to you after thirty... hmmm?

Cake for breakfast

For me, with the exception of a few killer highlights (that would be the weddings, trips of a life time, the arrival of some amazing kids, of course), I felt like I was living the second book in a trilogy: 
  • First book/first 25 years: scene setting, intros and back story.
  • Middle book (or in the case of the Harry Potter series: Order of the Phoenix)/25 – 30 years: filler stuff and a time to get impatient before the good shizzle gets started.
  • Last book/30+: the climax and the happily ever after.  
**Let me remind you here, I've always been massively impatient (I want it all and I want it NOW), have always believed that "something amazing" is on its way (it's not – what it is, is amazing now and I should learn to appreciate the now a bit more) and I never learn that the grass really isn't greener (my grass is pretty green)**

Looking back it was all pretty good actually. I do love a bit of hindsight. I should have paid more attention.

But anyway, turning thirty was ACE! So ace it's ok to use the word "ace". I'm so cool. It's because I'm over thirty. Cool doesn't just happen to you, after thirty, you become it. Fact.

So I did a little "life review", it got mushy. I did a lot of celebrating, it got messy. I did a lot of planning for growing up, it got, uh, waylaid.

But from that point on, basically everything felt ok. Everything was going to be ok. Everything was a-ok. I chilled out a bit more about stuff, stopped being so stress-heady and got a bit more settled. Felt more comfortable about who I was, what I did and with whom I did it. We sold our flat and bought a grown up house, I started saying "no" a bit more, I stopped whinging about everything I didn't have/own/look like and realised it's not really that important anyway (Chanel handbag, anyone?), started appreciating what I do have and my FOMO started to dissipate. It's like my birthday and new year all merged in to one and I made life resolutions, not just new year resolutions.

Group phone chat with our buddies in Oz

30 was the new 21 in my mind. There's so much build up to 21 but really, like new year's eve, there's no big deal after all the fuss. 30 was where it was at. Apart from the car insurance reduction (nowadays not so much though - sorry younguns), 21 was merely symbolic. 18 contains the only actual life defining moment - legal adulthood.  Drinking without lies. That's what 18 is, really.  

So if 30 was the new 21 - symbolic - it was all about the party, the life story, the thank yous and the "Oscar" speech.  The “So far…” list, and the future plans. Excellent.

What does that make 31?

31 is the realisation that you're a proper adult now.


Grown up.

A grooooown up.

But it was actually pretty good.

It’s been ten years since my 21st birthday. What was I doing ten years ago? I was working on my internship year and trying not to think about returning to university for my final year (I hated uni). I was avoiding responsibility at all costs. My biggest, most stressful decisions involved Miss Sixty jeans or Guess jeans with my birthday money, I was celebrating my 21st birthday in Paris (in a way more civilised manner than I celebrated my 31st let me tell you!), and drinking Apple Sourz at least four nights a week. I was planning holidays, parties and experiences with my friends and family. I was having fun being single having come out of a rather unpleasant five year relationship...

I was meeting ensnaring my future husband and making plans to explore our the world together, one luxury hotel at a time...

Birthday outfit

Although my birth and wedding certificates say that I’m a proper grown up now, you can forgive me for not really feeling it. When you describe my life ten years ago it like that, it's really not that different!
So, back to the present, what did I get up to on my 31st birthday weekend? Well, with a busy year full of big expenditure ahead, I planned very little. Unlike the last ten years. I didn't feel the need or the want. I just wanted to go with the flow.

Birthday bellini at lunch

Oh good lord – did you hear that? "Go. With. The. Flow"
You see... I really did change. I like it. 

Anyway, I purchased cocktail ingredients, reserved a table, planned the top half of an outfit (with the bottom half rushed together in the hours before going out) and booked a taxi. That was it. It felt good.

Pre-birthday celebrations on Friday included cake for breakfast at my desk, some birthday bellinis and bresaola salad with one of my besties (all the Bs) and then back at the office: champagne, chocolates and a cheese buffet with my colleagues (all the Cs). Followed by haggis, neeps and tatties, cranachan  (made by moi - check me out all grown up and making stuff for guests!) and whisky-based cocktails with some friends to celebrate Burns Night and a long distance group catch up with some buddies Down Under, oh, and lots of cocktails!

All very grown up and (mostly) civilised.

Presents in bed!
Then, B-day hit on Saturday which involved presents and cards in bed, a mild-hangover brunch, a full body and scalp massage, my girls coming over for some pre-party bubbly then in to town for drinks and dancing… and ended the day crashing in to bed in full make up. Not grown up, nor civilised.
Sunday we spent the morning recovering, sending apology texts, laughing at some utterly disgusting and hideous, but equally hilarious photos, wallowing on the sofa and eating left over cold sausages straight from the fridge. We then made ourselves look presentable (ish) and headed to my parents' for tea and lemon drizzle cake, more pressies, a game of Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It (a birthday gift) jammy lamb and sticky toffee pud (my Birthday Dinner 2013 choice) and mini birthday cakes, before chilling on the sofa and watching Call the Midwife. 

Big fat birthday win!!!
Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Birthday Suit

No, I'm not talking about being naked, nor am I referring to that famous Rimmel lipstick from the nineties that we all wore with Number 17 "In the Buff" lipliner.
I am referring to what I wore for my birthday drinks this weekend.

The whole outfit revolved around a black and white Zara shirt, that encouraged much posing in front of the black and white stripes in my bathroom, many shouts of "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice" and a few dagger-looks at boys who asked if I'd come straight from the football stadium.


I intended to wear it with my black tailored shorts and some Henry Holland suspender tights, but I couldn't find them in the disaster that is my wardrobe (and when I say wardrobe I mean three wardrobes, across three bedrooms, and a few suitcases full of stuff I forgot I had until I went looking for the shorts. Time for a wardrobe clear out!) so purchased a p-leather skirt from Miss Selfridge (It's been a long time since I shopped in there, let me tell you - everything is so teeny) as a back up plan, but ended up just opting for some black skinny jeans. Standard.

I wore my new shoes from Dune, purchased in the sale reduced from £90 (no way hose!) to £45 (maybe) to £36 (ok) to £28 (MINE!), my minty-green Lulu Guinness bag (more stripes!), a pop of pink lippy and attempted some big hair, which just went flat as soon as I started flinging myself drunkenly around on the dance floor.

It all started out so well.

I did not end well.

RIP birthday outfit.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Birthday outfit - the 2013 edition

Last year was a special bithday, so it required a special dress.

This year is a bit more of a low-key birthday celebration (just drinks, in my home town, over the course of one evening, not five) so does it require an low-key outfit?

Uh, no.

You clearly don't know me at all.

I found this super-cool shirt in Zara and I was thinking about pairing it with my black tailored shorts and some funky tights from my current collection (as per the images below) with some sparkly shoes. You know, keep it understated and all...


Sunday, 20 January 2013

My weekend: Snow, baby snuggles, cake and bubbly!


Snowy socks, snowy garden!
I haven't done a "my weekend" post for a while. I must try harder to do more this year. Another new year resolution maybe? I suppose that would also require me to get off my derriere a bit more and actually do something interesting enough to tell you about. Well, more that eating at least.

Last weekend I felt really productive and like I did quite a lot... but really, it revolved around sitting on my sofa and only moving from that position to eat food that didn't originate from my kitchen. Friday a girlie birthday dinner at a cute pub, Saturday an impromptu family dinner and Sunday and hangover brunch, without a hangover.

My Mamma Bear, her gorgeous god daughter Liz and Liz's amazingly beautiful baby, Samuel

This weekend was in a similar vein, with all the sitting and eating but there were other activities involved. Mainly sitting down activities, but still, activities! Friday was meant to be a puzzle night with Caroline. We achieved very little puzzling, unfortunately, but a lot of guzzling. Guzzling of naughty chocolate treats, and gallons of tea.

mmmmm, cake, at Earl Grey and Rose

Saturday started early with a slow snow drive to south west London to visit a new little buddy of ours - baby Samuel. We enjoyed some yummy food in a cute vintage cafe, tea and cakes on the sofa and then, most importantly, THE. BEST. BABY. SNUGGLES! He's just the cutest, snuggliest, snuffliest, squeakiest little bundle of joy. He was only meant to arrive a week ago, but put in an appearance at the end of 2012, because, as a Londoner, what better year (clearly I'm talking about the Jubilee and London 2012) to have in the DOB section of your passport?

Katy making snow willies...

Sunday was where it all went wrong for Dry January and I fell off the wagon. We had friends over for Sunday lunch and kick started the afternoon with wine and bubbly all snuggled up in the conservatory Orangery watching the snow trickle down and then more over lunch. We then tucked in to some tasty red with the cheese and a little bubbly toast to a snow day or two next week (as if!) whilst Katy and Claire made an evil snow man and a snow willy in my garden. I wonder how long it'll take my neighbours to pop a note of complaint through the door...

Claire making a scary snow man
All in all, a rather wonderful weekend!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Kitsch clutter: Flamingo Fun!

I've mentioned before that I have a mild obsession with H&M. And you may or may not know that I've been obsessed with flamingos since, well, forever I think.

It think it's all part of my over-arching addiction to kitsch and retro-Americana in general and I think it stems from my adoration of the Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass books as a child, and also my love of the colour pink.

My dad got some life-life (ish) flamingo models for our post-wedding garden party as a surprise for me (everyone must think they have such bad taste in garden ornaments) and I longed to stay for one night in that themed Pink Flamingo motel in California (but it looked a bit icky) and I can't resist a one-legged pose outside the Flamingo casino in Vegas.

In fact, I just can't resist Vegas. It's the Kitsch Mecca!
With that in mind, but bearing in mind that I have a very conservative/kitsch-averse husband, I've been wanting to decorate one of our spare rooms with a subtle nod to Alice in Wonderland. I wanted some black and white stripes in there, some flouncy pale blue, some flamingo wall paper, some tea cup lamps and some wall art from Etsy.  Sounds , erm, hideous? In my head it looks awesome. 


Alice artwork from here, here and here
Next tea cup lamp

Mr G said a maaaaaaybe to the flamingo wallpaper, and then saw the samples and said no. So that kind of threw the rest out as well.

So that was a NO to the Alice room and a NO to the flamingo invasion?


It's happening.  What about a faux white leather bar and an army of bubble dogs whilst we're at it? Hmmm. Since then I've slowly been introducing flamingos/Alice/general kitsch gaudiness to our home, little bits at a time, and hopefully under the anti-kitsch radar. Amongst other things... 

  • I recently bought a sparkly silver flamingo from Paperchase - I think I'll pop him on my dressing table (the room is white, silver and soft grey – works perfectly, perfectly I tell you);
  • I managed to get some black and white stripes up in the bathroom (pics coming as soon as it's finished!) and some Malibu Cheesecake almost-naked ladies (and the not naked parts are covered in pink feathers - possibly flamingo ones. Who knows?) up on the wall;
  • I snuck in a friend for my original bubble dog and a weird glass-but-looks-like-a-plastic-bottle vase to the dining room;
  • I bought a gross-but-cute "Love" ornament because we saw the life size version in NYC when we got engaged; and
  • I have been sneakily purchasing flamingo pictures (from here and here) to put on the wall wherever possible.
New flamingo pictures for the bathroom

So, anyway, back to H&M, (there was a point to this post, I promise!) I was going at this Kitsch Clutter implementation plan softly, softly  with one item at a time until I saw this new flamingo stuff on their website.

Oh good lord!

Sorry Mr G – we're having pink and turquoise flamingo guest towels and pink flamingo duvet covers and if I can manage it, a plastic flamingo shower curtain, there's NOTHING you can do about it. NOTHING.

Prepare for a flamingo invasion.


P.S. how cool that I have a whole new category of posts "Kitsch Clutter" just to showcase all the kitsch and tacky crap I buy on a weekly basis, that Mr G works tirelessly to break/hide/remove.


Friday, 11 January 2013

More namesake shoes

Jimmy Choo is killing me!

First there was the Victoria, then the sparkly Victoria. Not just a namesake shoe, but a GLITTERY namesake shoe!

Jimmy Choo sparkly Victoria shoe

And now they have the Vikki.

It's almost the spelling I use, but not quite. However I'm not precious, I can change it, I've done it before...

The Jimmy Choo Vikki shoe

And I'll do it again if someone buys me these...

But wait, there's more. My Baby Bro used to refer to himself in the third person when he was dinky, and despite being called Christopher, used the name Vivica (we think due to a hearing problem - see under "RIA" here). Lo and behold, they also have some called that. Well what do you know?

On investigation, much like the real "Vivica" and Victoria, the Victoria is much better looking, so that's clearly the first choice.

Sorry Baby Bro.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Out and about: Walking with Dinosaurs

This weekend was full of time travel. I took my friend's six year old son (and his dad, my Baby Bro and my parents) back to a prehistoric age to see the Walking with Dinosaurs live show at the O2.

It was awesome.

I was surprised to be so excited by the prospect of seeing dino puppets (not a spoiler!) set to music and narrated by a paleontologist, but I really, really was.

The show takes you through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods and features the "celebrities" of each era... culminating in the Big One.

My bro was a complete dino nerd as a child, and some of his knowledge must have rubbed off on me because I found myself getting excited as the dinosaurs entered the arena "ooooh, Brachiosaurus", "I bet this is Stegosaurus", "woooooo, T-Rex!"

Thankfully my squeals were drowned out by those of the kids in the box with us!

The journey is illustrated beautifully with the use of the ever changing landscape (so cleverly done), accompanied by a moving music score, (I didn't, but I did almost cry at one point) and the narrator, playing the part of a palentologist, provided enthusiastic commentary about the flora and fauna, evolution, the changing land mass and the dinos themselves in terms that were understandable to young kids, but not boring for grown ups.

The puppets were brilliant and the smaller ones were mesmerising in the same way as those in Warhorse. You know they aren't real, clearly being able to see the human operatives, but you can't help but be sucked in by their life-like mannerisms (as life-like as we know long-extinct gigantic reptiles to be) and movements. Really very clever.

It's not highly scientific, more like a prehistoric soap opera at times, and I have no idea on the accuracy, though my dino-geek-New-Scientist-reading companions didn't correct it too much, so I'm assuming it was relatively correct. I found it all rather interesting, but I didn't learn anything new, so maybe I'm a dino nerd too?


Well, I have watched The Land Before Time at least 100 times and the Jurassic Park films about 50, so I must have learned something.

The ending is all rather cute and funny too with a particular character stealing the show.

It's going on tour, so check here for dates and tickets.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Time travelling

One of my NYE party decorations

I haven’t sofa surfed for ages. There’s always been some kind of chore to do, don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of chores to do; I’m just choosing not to do them. I think that means I’ve failed on one New Year Resolution, but kind of succeeded on another.

Anyway, I didn’t feel too guilty about my sofa surfing today, because I felt like I was doing something productive at the same time… time travelling.

It all started with Sunday Brunch on Channel 4 to set me up, because you can’t time travel on an empty stomach, and from there on in I was hurtling through the decades!

One Day took me through the late eighties, nineties, noughties and the early teenies with music, fashion (ish!), city-scapes, city nightlife and TV references.
Hook had me re-visiting my childhood in the early nineties and reminiscing about Christmases of days gone by. We used to watch a pantomime, en masse with friends and family, every year. One year we chose not to see the pantomime and went to the cinema to see Hook instead. It’s been one of my favourite childhood films ever since. And in fact, my Baby Bro and I still quote it at each other regularly… “In your face camel cake”.

Clueless took me through my teenage years in the late nineties. Every single Friday of them. Kim and I used to watch Clueless followed by Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet every week whilst getting ready to go out. Again, we still quote it regularly, and my thirty year old, grown up (ish) vocabulary is still heavily influenced by the content of that film.
The Tomorrow People had me squealing with excitement. CITV's Old Skool Weekend was just full of amazing childhood references. Funhouse - After-school prize-winner jealousy. Wizadora - “Sick day” guilty pleasure (before it was replaced by Loose Women). Press Gang? Fuelling future career aspirations. Knightmare - Still gives me actual nightmares sometimes! Art Attack - Where my obsession with everything oversized began. I was so happy to find The Tomorrow People on the schedule and Sky +’d it… and was then so upset when I realised that it wasn’t what I thought it was: The Girl from Tomorrow which was one of my absolute faves (I still desperately want to wear my hair band like a Transducer and paint three dots on my cheekbone)! Such a shame that The Queen’s Nose was a BBC programme… I consoled myself with Fraggle Rock.

Mr Selfridge will hopefully become my Sunday night replacement for Downton Abbey and fulfil my need for some kind of period drama on cosy winter nights. The costumes, the bouffants, the accents, the vistas of turn-of-the-century (ish) London. I have high hopes.

And the day of time travelling ended with The Iron Lady. I didn’t spend a lot of my childhood paying attention to politics, and to be frank, I don’t really now, so I'm not really drawn by that side of things in this film. I have, however, always spent a lot of my time paying attention to the changing fashions in interiors, hair, cosmetics, clothes and cars and this film showcases them in all their twentieth century glory fabulously. I love it. Oh, and Meryl. Oh how it showcases Meryl.
I should do this more often... and I should get a maid!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Looking back and forwards - the 2012/13 edition - Part two: New Year Resolutions

Today has been a hard day.

Last night’s Roaring Twenties NYE party Chez Moi (see the dress I finally chose to wear, after much deliberation, here) turned my house in to a bombsite, and on less than three hours’ sleep I spent over four hours returning the place to normality while my poor body slowly succumbed to the cold/sore throat/cough bug that’s going around.
Final party dress decision!
I’m a hero.


Meanwhile Mr G moaned, wailed, whimpered and snored on the sofa as he suffered from the after effects of the horrendous shot combinations he was concocting last night. I have zero sympathy. There have been some daggers shot across the room on numerous occasions today.

And a nice long list of "chores" written for him to complete tomorrow whilst I'm at work.

However, it wasn't all bad, two hours alone washing up gave me some time to reflect on last year’s resolutions and to think about the ones I will make for the coming year.

I managed some of them easy peasy lemon squeezy, some of them required a bit more effort and some I just plain ignored! Oops.

I made quite a few last year, twenty to be precise, so this year I’m keeping the number low. Let’s say ten? Is that reasonable? Also, this year I’m making resolutions that are a bit more SMART, as opposed to last year when they were a bit more wishy-washy. Anyone that wasted their time (like me, for eight years) on Business Studies at school will know that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound which helps me to stay focussed! My mind and personality functions much better with more definitive parameters. We could even call them New Year Objectives. 

So, with that in mind, let’s go:
Body – go to the gym at least once a week, eat less rubbish, further reduce my alcohol intake, get regular massages and spa treatments
Mind – chill out more,  say “no” more, spend more time reading in the conservatory than stressing and on my mobile
Finances – we had a rather expensive year lastyear and have a VERY expensive year ahead, so 2013 is a time to rebuild my savings and be a bit more prudent with my expenditure. I have a figure in my head of how much I would like in my savings account at the end of this year and what I would like to use it for.
Photos – fill all empty photo frames (there are lots!), complete my electronic filing and create photo-books for all my trips and big events of the past five years by the spring.
Laundry - stay on top of washing, ironing and cleaning each week, rather than rushing everything when we need to use the spare rooms for guests and not just piles of clean and dirty washing (one in each room).
Domesticity – rather than opting to eat out/order in/eat crisps/work late/just skip dinner to avoid cooking for myself I will cook myself a meal at least once a week. Hmmm
DIY – complete any current or pending home improvement projects by the summer, when I will be good and ready to start hosting parties again... i.e just in time to trash it all!
Planning for the future - work on plans for various extension/renovating options, get quotes, make decisions, get saving and set deadlines.
Wardrobe – clear out, give/throw away items I haven’t worn for over a year and rearrange the inside in to some semblance of order - each season! Keeping items for fancy dress is no longer an option!
Rest – go to bed earlier (ideally well before midnight on school nights), no late-night Facebook/Twitter/Hotmail checking and get some sleep therapy!

So there we have it!
Oh, hang on, I forgot one. Less a new year resolution/objective, more a January rule – NO BOOZE until my birthday. Last year I failed terribly and caved within the week due to a run of thirtieth birthdays. The year before I managed two and a half months, due to alcohol poisoning. I’m hoping for something in between this year. Wish me luck.

No booze...

Happy 2013 people, I wish you love, health and happiness for the new year.