Saturday, 30 June 2012


Look at the love and the smiles my keys are giving me!

Today, six months to the day after starting our search, we picked up the keys and set foot in our new home as the owners, and not just viewers.

It’s not the first home we’ve owned together but, seeing as we’ve been homeless for six weeks and living together with my parents, it almost feels like it is. It’s not a mansion, it’s not fully detached. It’s not perfectly decorated and it’s not likely to be the house we grow old in.
But, crumbs, am I excited about the future in this new house. Parties, sleepovers, decorating projects (including threats of divorce in Ikea), BBQs (Mr G is more excited about his GINORMOUS BBQ than he is about the house I think), our first Christmas there (and a possible change to the traditional running order), collecting a dinner service, buying our first lawnmower and, dare I say it, starting a family…

Let’s be honest, people have been on bump-watch for nearly three years, and now, it’s going to go in to overdrive isn’t it? Best I stay away from the carbs for a while. Ha!
With the flat we coukd do stuff, there were possibilities, but with our new little house we can expand and grow those possibilities are endless… well not endless, there’s no room for a pool or a pony, but maybe a hot tub and a puppy (purleeeeeease Mr G? Please? Pwetty pwease?), but I can live without those things on the basis that we will have some of the things I’ve long been coveting:
  • a dining table
  • a dishwasher
  • a separate kitchen
  • a garden
  • my own driveway, and 
  • (I really don’t want to say it, but I’m gonna…) STORAGE!
I was in my early twenties when we bought the flat (god that makes me feel old). Who knew about storage and white goods at that age? Not me. I wish I bloody did though, the last seven years would have been a bit more streamlined if I had! But I don’t want to be mean about our first home, the flat served us well. It was emotional to say goodbye, but I had actual butterflies as we drove to the new house earlier this evening. I walked around opening and closing fitted wardrobes (they’re going) checking out the kitchen pantry (way old school but also going), sitting in the garden, twirling on my drive, visualising curtains and wallpaper and flooring… I feel like we’ve bonded already.

And you know what? You know I’m all about the signs. The links, the pattern (it’s my sickness, don’t judge me) and I’ve already found one.

The flat was number 21.
The new pad is 42.

There it is.

THE sign that it’s going to be twice as amazing, twice the fun and twice the memories.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

A new favourite

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been coveting this little Lulu Guinness baby for a few weeks and my conscience and I tussled with the thought of buying it. I already own a lips clutch (as seen in a variety of drunken photos on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds) and since purchasing that (with my birthday money, so no guilt involved) I've been more than a little obsessed with her collections.
We’re moving house to upsize and I should be saving my money for a new ironing board, a boiler service and a dust buster or something, shouldn’t I?

Or, on the other hand, we’re moving house to upsize and I have a long few months (or longer) ahead of me purchasing things like ironing boards, paying for a boiler service and picking up a dust buster, so I might as well treat myself whilst I still can, shouldn’t I?

The argument is now academic, because this afternoon a GINORMOUS box arrived at my office, and contained within it was the mintiest of green leather, the shiniest of gold chain straps and the stripeyest of satin linings...

Ridiculous amounts of packaging... was love at first sight.

... but so worth it.

Sorry, Yellow, Mummy has a new favourite….

For now

Sorry Yellow... :-(

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


I’ve mentioned before that I love the Royals, specifically the Queen (and Harry, if we're going to get specific), so you can imagine how excited I was when all the Jubilee plans were announced. I was literally ecstatic about the prospect of heading to London to watch boat pageants, Red Arrow fly pasts, balcony appearances and an array of stars perform in front of/on top of Buckingham Palace.

And then I realised that that was also going to be the busiest wedding/birthday/housewarming weekend EVER and so I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.
But I couldn’t let the opportunity to commemorate 60 years of Queenie in charge pass without some kind of celebration, and really it was only cost effective to get all my décor from the Royal Wedding party back out for another airing – pound per use and all that. So I convinced my parents to let me hold a garden party at their pad (because I was homeless, obviously) for some of our nearest and dearest.

I mentioned in my “what on earth to wear…” post that the dress code on the invites was “icons from the last 60 years” or “your patriotic best”, having seen the effort people went to for the Royal Wedding party with hats, fascinators and fancy frocks galore I was excited to see what people wore.
Although I was impressed that most people went the patriotic route (including those not of British heritage), with a sea of eccentric red, white and blue taking over the garden, a few special mentions for the “icons”outfits can’t be missed. We had a Che Guevara (my cousin), a rugby player from before my time (my dad), ‘Gin and Tonic’ (the lovely Laura) and a modern Cilla Black (the wonderful WaceyStyle stylist – Claire).

I had intended to come as something quirky like Pimm’s (brown dress, various fruit accessories) or ‘strawberries and cream’ (red dress with added yellow pips, a fruity fascinator including a stalk and a leaf and a creamy pashmina), but I ran out of time with all my other events outfits to plan.
I went for a fifties-style blue frock from Lindy Bop onAmazon, with red and white sashes (velvet ribbons from Hobbycraft) and puffed up with one of my bridesmaids’ petticoats, a bouffant beehive hairdo (because I didn’t have time to wash my hair before the guests arrived), topped off with a Union Flag oversized bow (from eBay), and some red and white New Look polka dot wedges. Seeing as I’m quite in to my icons I had a few guests guess that I’d dressed up as Minnie Mouse because of the pouffy skirt and polka dots (one of my icon ideas, but I couldn’t find an un-sl*tty verison of the outfit!), Lady Gaga (I assume because of the bow and the hair) and a rockabilly (because of the vintage style frock and hair). Sadly, it was none of the above, it was just a red, white and blue concoction which was the best I could do in the circumstances!

my patriotic best


Gin and Tonic drinking gin cocktails
recreating our pose from the Royal Wedding party

Kate and Wills popped in
a sporting hero

Meeting the Queen

Celebrating a newly acquired British citizenship and a "Baby Brit on Board"

Finger on the pulse

Red, white and blue Jubilee Princess!

Brit babes!

some great efforts

Anyway, I got up at 6am to start Operation Jubilee Party and the whole family pitched in to help get afternoon tea ready for our 50 or so guests. We made a great team.

I was on sandwich making and cakes and scones set up duties, my mum was on evening buffet creation, cheese and pineapple flag spearing and mixing up sandwich filling duties, Mr G was on bunting, patriotic pom pom and flag décor duties and then helped my dad out with his occasional table, garden seating and marquee set up duties. Some family members arrived early and took over on the whipping of cream and decanting of jam which was good as it meant I had 30 minutes to spare to get showered, made up and create some kind of outfit before non-family guests arrived…

Patriotic pom poms

Cute vintage bunting...

...and some more traditional flags!
…and from then on it was Pimm’s and real ale on tap (from my newly acquired 12 litre drink dispenser – it was re-filled three times. That’s a lot of Pimm’s - and a barrel of beer on the BBQ), prosecco and English Hedgerow cocktails in vintage tea cups, afternoon tea (including what turned out to be tipsy cocktail cupcakes*), retro party snacks, cheesy British classics (Match of the Day and The Archers theme tunes anyone?) mixed in with some vintage songs and general British garden party activity, ie drinking, eating, chatting, sitting, laughing, “cheers”ing and looking at the sky worrying about rain/being thankful that it’s not raining!

When everyone was truly afternoon tea-d out, we pulled out the chilli, jacket potatoes, salad, cheese board, pizza and quiche and let people get stuck in to the evening buffet with a few more drinks before people started to drift off home, covered in flags and Union Jack regalia!

All in all I feel like we had a rather refined but fun-filled day, garden partying in homage to Queenie’s big day. By 11pm we were mostly tidied up, I was in my pyjamas with a cuppa, I managed to sample some of the leftover food and finally got to sit down and watch some of the Jubilee concert. And I didn’t get out of my pyjamas until Wednesday, when I had to put something more suitable on for work!
Being the hosts and hostesses with the most/mostesses is hard work but jolly good fun, what what, especially after such a fun-packed (i.e. drunken) weekend. Now… you think I can go for a third and fourth outing of the Union Jack décor for the Olympics opening/closing parties?

Even better – by then I might actually have a house to host it in. Fingers crossed…

Royal waves
Chillaxing on Tuesday
Look who we found in the Jubilee weekend papers...

*the lovely ladies that made the cute mini cupcakes came rushing up the garden on seeing some of the kids stuffing their faces with the chocolate versions. A quiet word that perhaps the children might like to stick to the chocolate cakes as the others were slightly, erm, alcoholic (Baileys or mojito icing on the vanilla ones and Limoncello in the lemon ones. Oh my deliciousness!) and a potential crisis was averted. Although… a few Baileys cupcakes before bed might have seen a few lie ins for the parents on Tuesday morning… just sayin’ tee hee!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

What to wear…

… when you’re homeless, your entire life is in storage, the weather can’t make its mind up… and you have five important events to attend?


You know me.
Despite my planning, I still had some last minute outfit stress to deal with. But it all worked out rosy(ish) in the end.
It kicked off with a wedding in a field, complete with tractors, rowing boats, Louboutins in puddles, a giant cheese-cake, a quirky cover band and ties round heads at midnight. We then found ourselves at a 30th birthday/housewarming party for a close friend, and I don’t remember much from that part of the night apart from a pint of gin and tonic (it was big, it wasn’t clever), surgical gloves and a bleeding knuckle. Ewww

For this event I chose a dress from New Look (a Limited Collection number I bought back in February), a hat from my existing collection (last seen last year in the Cotswolds for another fabulous wedding), a grey cropped jacket from H&M that literally goes with everything, my trusty Louboutins and my Lulu Guinness lips clutch for a splash of colour (and the usual drunken photo posing). I also got to wear some of my birthday bling plus a cheapie necklace from H&M.

The next morning I battled through one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever felt to attend a small post-wedding gathering in a local pub and try out some hair-of-the-dog remedies before heading off to wedding number two, which incorporated an emotional ceremony, some great British weather (rain) accompanied by some great British spirit (not letting rain ruin a jolly good party), lots of laughs, a few tears, a raving rope, some old school memories and some more recent ones.

For this event I wore a Warehouse dress, my shameless LouisVuitton copy shoes, a hair piece I made myself from red sparkly butterflies from Hobbycraft, a hair comb and some florists wire, and Saturday's jacket came back out to play. I garnished my outfit with some twinkles (found here on my Christmas list) and my rose gold Mulberry clutch.

The next morning I was awake bright and early (ok, not so bright, but definitely early) to make afternoon tea for our Diamond Jubilee Party (more on this later). With 30 minutes until the guests were due to arrive I was still setting up so getting ready time was at a minimum, but I think I work best under pressure.
For this little event the dress code was “icons from the last 60 years” or failing that “patriotic best”, so, with my dressing up box and all superfluous accessories in storage, I had to fling it all together last minute and just work with what I had. My original plan had been to dress up as “Pimm’s” or “strawberries and cream” but time, money, homelessness and effort just got in the way and I went for “patriotic” in red, white and blue, with a vintage/quirky twist. I wore a pale blue fifties style dress from LindyBop on Amazon, with one of my Bridesmaid’s net petticoats, a Union Flag hair bow from eBay with a bouffant beehive, some red and white ribbons as a sash from Hobbycraft and some red and white polka dot wedges from New Look. I feel like I could have done better but it worked out ok in the end!

Tuesday was a chill out day watching my fave lady on the telly (that's Queenie, if you didn't know) all day long.
What did I wear on Tuesday?
My pyjamas… all day long.

Monday, 25 June 2012

California Dreaming: San Diego

Our West Coast USA road trip on iconic California State Route 1 took us from San Francisco (A) to Monterey (B), through the Big Sur and on to Santa Barbara (C), a stop in Venice Beach (D), a quick hop across the state boundary in to Las Vegas (E), back to Los Angeles (F) and on to San Diego (G), before saying goodbye to California and flying home. The final part, San Diego, is below click here for part one (San Francisco), here for part two (Monterey), part three (Big Sur and Santa Barbara) is here, part four (LA and Venice) is here and part five (Las Vegas) is here.

We flew back in to LA from Vegas, picked up a (slightly less impressive) car and headed back to the Pacific Coast Highway. After being out of the driving seat for a few days, Mr G got a bit, erm, let’s say “lost” (in actuality he thought he knew better than the instructions I was screaming from two maps and a satnav and took a few of his own turns) and we ended up driving through the exact places we were trying to avoid… the ‘hood. We managed to skirt around the outside, but anyone who’s seen Menace II Society will recognise the scenery and anyone that’s listened to a bit of Tupac will have been familiar with the names on the sign posts from his tunes. A little bit of swift navigation and we were back on our way towards San Diego. I’m not going to be fluffy about it, some of the neighbourhoods in the surrounding area of LA, en route to our final destination, did not look pretty. But equally, there are some lovely places. It was like driving through an entire evening of Channel 4, one minute fabled gangland territory, the next, affluent beach towns where girls with bouncy blond hair and Chanel 2.55 flap bags drive drop top white sports cars to beachside brunch with their interns-at-glossy-magazines friends... Laguna Beach and The OC, anyone?

San Diego old town state park
As with every other city on the trip, finding our hotel, The Bristol, was ridiculously easy (let's get rid of roundabouts and install the "block" system at home shall we?) we dropped off the car with the valet guys and I took the opportunity of our late afternoon arrival to have a (rather out of character) nap to ready ourselves for the San Diego nightlife while Mr G (also uncharacteristically) passed on the nap opportunity to explore the surrounding area.

Breakfast pizza...

Breakfast pancakes

I’ve mentioned before that I’m more of a bustling city, than a chillaxed beach town, girl and so San Diego was probably my favourite of the Californian cities on the trip. I felt like I was in a sunnier, friendlier, cleaner, compact New York City.

We chose to stay in the Gaslamp Quarter and so we spent our first night eating delicious food and drinking fancy cocktails in a busy, bustly city bar/restaurant a five minute walk from our hotel. This was the one thing I’d missed about San Francisco. I now had a real reason to put on some heels, some bling and a fancy frock and head out for the night. Hurrah for dressing up for cocktails…
Giant margaritas
Our first full day was spent in uber-exploration mode. We had a large breakfast, bought some hop-on-hop-off trolley passes and took a grand tour of the city incorporating the Gaslamp Quarter (bustling streets packed with bars and restaurants), Seaport Village (cute but felt a bit like Bicester village – we didn’t stay long), Coronado Island (pretty little seaside town feel, and a famous hotel, where we had beach-view cocktails – obvs), the Old Town State Historic Park (like a Disney frontier town crossed with “Mexicoland”, but friendly and fun, plus we found some great margarita stops) and various places in between (mainly related to Top Gun trivia!).

Getting in to the baseball spirit

That evening we made our way to the famous Petco Park to see some all American baseball. I hate sport. I really hate sport. But I do love a feeling of “go team!" and national or local pride, so that must explain why I have a mini obsession with American sport. I think it’s the wholesomeness of American sport (I know it’s just a veneer!) versus the nastiness I see related to things like football at home that sends me wild for things like American football, baseball and basketball. And also it’s integral to my love of vintage Americana – cheerleaders, pointy fingers, popcorn, that organ music (dan dan da daa dan dan da daa), the national anthem (caps off hands on hearts) the corn dogs. You know what I mean. I think my preference would have been for some football, but we were there out of season so we went for baseball instead. I loved it. We got burritos, beers and sodas, bought some branded baseballs for my friends little boys and got properly stuck in to our evening in the stadium! “Let’s go Padres, let’s go!”. Ghirardelli ice cream sundaes on the way home completed my American Dream of an evening!
Post baseball sundae!
The following day we got ourselves up early, grabbed another ridiculously large breakfast and made our way to the famous San Diego Zoo. We spent most of the day wandering amongst the animal enclosures, eating candy floss, watching Happy Feet in 4D (Don’t judge me - seeing as penguins are my second favourite animals and they have none at the zoo, watching that was the next best thing!) and taking tours on the open top discovery buses. It was a really great zoo, but after seeing most of these animals in the wild (on safari on our honeymoon back in 2010) no zoo is ever going to be as exciting as they were in the pre-safari days.
Welcome to the zoo!

Zoo-time snack!

When we were zoo-toured out we made our way back to the hotel, via a shopping mall where we picked up some Abercrombie treats, as no trip to the US is complete without a new Abercrombie hoody or four, and got ready for another night on the town.

Our flight back to the UK was in the evening of our last day so we got up early, had our last massive breakfast (are you seeing a theme here?), and spent the day wandering around on the USS Midway aircraft carrier and quoting lines from Top Gun at each other (“Negative Ghostrider”). The tour of the ship was pretty cool, with former marine aviators conducting small tours of all the areas of particular interest and a self-guided audio tour for the rest of the ship. We also met some former pilots who told us stories about their part in previous conflicts that made me cry. It really was a fascinating day, not least because my childhood dream (after watching Top Gun, of course) was to be a fighter pilot! On the way home I insisted on a quick pit stop at the Kansas City Barbeque for a drink to see the actual location of one of the Top Gun scenes before grabbing our bags and making our way to the airport for the long flight home.
Proud to be sleazy!

Playing the famous piano
Phew. What a trip.
It wasn’t relaxing in the way you do when you sit on a beach and read trashy novels for two weeks, but I truly can say that during the two weeks we spent exploring some of California’s greatest cities (and one in Nevada) I managed to barely think about house-moving stress, our “currently of no fixed abode” status and I definitely didn’t think about work. Let’s say it was mentally relaxing, as I came back physically exhausted!

Also, as much as I loved California, the sunshine, the happiness, the lifestyle, the buoyant attitude – I think, deep down, I’m an East Coast girl at heart. But don’t get me wrong… I’ll be heading back to the West Coast as soon as time and funds allow!