Thursday, 28 February 2013

This Girl is on Fire

Check out my friend Abbie's video. She's a clever (and very funny) little cookie, isn't she?

You've seen this girl. You likely know this girl. I probably am this girl. Hmmm...

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The dress which ruined the Oscars red carpet

I thought this year's Oscars red carpet was boring. Boooooring. Nothing stood out. Nothing grabbed me.

Yeah yeah. Keep moving Hollywood starlet in your designer gown. Yawn.

I think it was because all I could see in my mind was Marion Cotillard's yellow dream from the BAFTAs and in comparison the Oscars dress parade was all pretty tame.

Ruining it for everyone: Marion Cotillard at the BAFTAs

From here - It's just amazing, right?

I suppose we have to pick something though, don't we? So I'm going for joint faves with Halle Berry's vertical stripes and Naomi Watts' asymmetric sequins?

Joint Best in Show (if I have to): Halle and Naomi

From here - I like the styling and I like the unusual neckline. Pretty standard dress though/

From here - looks a bit like armour, but we all know I'm having an obsession with stripes recently.

Can we also have a quick moment for my newest (and best yet?) girl crush, Jennifer Lawrence. I don't love the dress, but I don't hate it. I do love the styling though, especially that reversed necklace. And I love how she's just wearing it like she means it. She's badass in a ballgown! 

Highly Commended for "wearing" skills and accessorizing: Jennifer Lawrence
From here - Looks a bit like a creased wedding dress from a distance. But I think the shape is amazing on her.

From here - Dazzling diamonds, dazzling smile. That is all.
Last but not least, I'd also like to award a special merit to Lily Collins who, from what I can gather, didn't attend the actual ceremony, but pulled a very special little number out of the bag for the Vanity Fair after party.

Special merit, despite not being invited: Lily Collins 

From here - I actually want this dress. Now!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Death of a Dress

Let me give you some context.

I was talking to a friend the other day about it being silly to spend £80 on a fancy dress outfit for her 30th birthday party on the premise that "you'll only wear it once or twice"...

Then, I was talking to some peeps on Twitter about buying wear-only-once items of clothing, and how it's a silly idea.

And then, I spent a good few hours last weekend trying to condense three double wardrobes, a six drawer chest, a moving box and a few black sacks of clothes in to one double wardrobe. During this process (which was not dissimilar from trying to squeeze toothpaste back in to a tube) I found my wedding dress crumpled in a heap on the floor of the spare room, where I'd thrown it after our Halloween party four months ago... nearly three years after its first wear.

So, it got me thinking that, in general, you spend more on a wedding dress than any other item in your wardrobe, and yet wear it less than everything you'll ever own.

I managed to get three wears out of mine, the wedding, a trash the dress photo shoot in London (courtesy of Jasmine Jade Photography) and then when Mr G and I dressed up as "Love you to Death" for Halloween. But at the time of buying, it cost me more than four months of mortgage payments. That takes each wear down to a more than the cost of owning a two bed flat for a month.

The thing is, generally I freak out at the thought of spending more than £50 on a dress, even for a special occasion, due to the fact that I might not get more than one or two wears out of it (thank you Facebook!). I sweated buckets when paying for my 30th birthday dress, and felt like I was breaking the law when I purchased the same dress, but in black for NYE. I like to spend my money on things that will last a long time and will get a lot of wear out of, but not in an obvious way. I also love a bargain, and a money-off offer, as demonstrated with my energetic dress arithmetic a few summers ago.

But then it gets worse. Not only did I buy the most expensive thing I have ever and will ever wear without even a blink of an eye... I ruined it, on its first outing. I dropped red lip liner on it whilst getting ready at the hotel and covered it in mud climbing through a rose bush to pose for photos, all before I even uttered a Vow. Then, at the reception it literally got trashed, ripping the hem on the dancefloor and spilling a variety of drinks on it. Can you imagine buying even a high street dress and being that careless with it on the first wear? Nope. Me neither. I like to take care of my things.

Now, I desperately want to have it cleaned, repaired and boxed so it stops taunting me and disappears, but it's going to cost me the same as buying a dress from Whistles to do so. The same as a pair of LK Bennett shoes. The same as flights to Munich for the Christmas markets (or in fact, more). When will I stop feeling guilty about the money I threw, and continue to throw, at that dress?

How can it be that this dress just won't die?

There's that hindsight again...

Round 1 - The Wedding

Round 2- Trashing the Dress, Rocking the Frock, Getting Down in the Gown

Round 3 - Love you to Death
Round 4 - crumpled in the corner of the as-yet-undecorated spare room

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Kitsch Clutter: English Gent

I found more kitsch clutter for my home. Yes, yes. Pity Mr G.

I feel like these next items are ones that I'm coveting, not only for their own charms, but also for the way they perfectly complement what I've just noticed is an emerging theme: The English Gent.

So, we already have the moustache and the specs appearing in the conservatory Orangery, so what better way to "top off" the English Gent look, than literally, with a bowler hat?

I want us to have this Jeeves lighting from Design55 so badly.

Shame my bank balance doesn't.

Find the Jeeves pendant light, table lamp and wall light online at these links! And if you do, don't tell me about it, because I'll be well jell.

Now, what I need is something pocket watch and cane themed...

Oh! Oh!

You know who else loves a pocket watch? The White Rabbit. And there you have it. All (decorating) roads lead to Alice!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Kitsch Clutter: The Tash!

I have an addictive personality. I find one thing I like (stripes, flamingos, Alice in Wonderland, nautical, owls) and I become obsessed and snap up everything I can get my grubby little mitts on. I like to collect. I like sets. I like a theme. But don't forget I don't like matchy-matchy.

One of my most recent obsessions? Moustaches.

Recent tash acquisitions include a book bag, some soft furnishings and quite often, one on my face (I seem to be drawn to tash parties). Mr G grew one for our NYE party but I made him remove it the next morning. I like fake tashes, not real ones!

Apologies to people that keep receiving tashes for presents!

 Next on my list is this mat for the conservatory Orangery.

Moustache Doormat from Design55

Monday, 18 February 2013

Desk Decor: Mood Mugs

Aside from the rather lovely extra-curricular activities I mentioned, last week at work was hideous. I shed my first work-related tear*. Just the one. I squidged it out of my left eye because if I didn't my head would have exploded from a fury-related aneurysm. I shouldn't have done it though, because, upon releasing that all that fury in a globule of salty water, thereafter that eye twitched like a dying moth until about 10pm.

What made it better though was that a colleague sent me a link to these little beauties. The plan for this week is that I'll keep these on my shelf and will select a mug each morning to reflect my mood. My room mates will then advise the office about when it's best to approach me with questions, work or problems. 
Add caption

I have one question though. Who is Larry, where does he work and why is he so happy about it? Ok, that was three questions.

I hate Larry.

* just to clarify, I have cried AT work, but not because OF work.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Staying in: Enjoying old age

Last year, the January birthday season lasted for a good six weeks. It was our 30th birthday month, though. There was dancing, drinking, snow bundling, surprises, giant balloons, more drinking, hotels, cake, sequins, glitter, cocktails, dress codes... even more drinking. It was exhausting. I'm surprised we survived it. I'm surprised we didn't bankrupt ourselves.

Birthday Belles - NOT keeping it low key!

This year we pared it down somewhat, stuck to civilised meals, drinks close to home, happy hour cocktails and Sunday brunch - and yet somehow still managed to end up drunk and disorderly for three solid weeks, broke, broken, missing last trains, freestyle rapping on the microphone in bars (!?!), laughing at photos of hideous raucousness over hangover breakfast, gatecrashing other parties, ruining birthday outfits and partying like fiends.

So this week required some chill time.

I started the week with board games on Monday night (with two broken boys, fresh home from a stag do), a reasonably low key pancake day on Tuesday (only two, and not my usual ten), a Valentine's night in our PJs with giant mugs of tea, a Friday night in front of the telly with a homemade cocktail and fish n chips, Saturday night playing board games and munching on pizza with friends and a Sunday eating a pub roast with my buddy Jasmine and then catching up on my washing (one New Year resolution failed) some TV dramas.


Pancake day
Valentine's Day Tea
Home alone with fish n chips and rose n lychee martinis
Board games
Bakewell tart for dessert with Jasmine Jade

A pretty good week as it goes.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Out and About: Spice Girl Saturday

There's been a running theme of history over the last month or so in my posts. I started January with some sofa-based time travel through my childhood using the medium of old school TV and film, I did some Walking with Dinosaurs, made a trip to the Titanic exhibition in Belfast and wrote about my visit to the Cabinet War Rooms on Florence Finds.

The last three were all a bit grown up and serious, so I needed something a) a bit more upbeat and b)some slightly more recent history - step up The Spice Girls and Viva Forever!

I loved the Spice Girls. Correction, I LOVE the Spice Girls. I've loved them since they first mimed Wannabe on breakfast TV. They provided a soundtrack to my teenage years. They inspired us to dress like divs, dance like mad girls, perform their hits in the school talent shows (prompting rows with rival groups in the playground) and shout "GIRL POWER" as a response to anything and everything. For example:

P.E. Teacher: "Go outside and run cross country"
Me: "NO - and you can't make me, because, well, GIRL POWER!"

Exam board letter: "Dear Ms Hale, You achieved an A in your French GCSE exam... blah... accepted on the A level course... blah"
Me: "Brilliant. GIRL POWER!"

McDonalds drive through operative: "Drive round to the next window please"

They had attitude but weren't bitches. They inspired outfits/hairstyles but weren't fashionable. They were naughty but they weren't bad girls. They wore skimpy outfits but they weren't slutty. They weren't the best singers, the best dancers, the best actresses or the best looking, but in my humble (musically uneducated) opinion they were the original and BEST girl group. They worked hard, put the time and effort in, took control and responsibility, they gave it their all and seemed to have so much fun whilst they were doing it, and most importantly, they did it for the girls, not for the boys. For me they were inspirational role models, and, really, when I look at them as Spice Women, they still are. Oh, and they reformed for London2012 and used black cabs as skateboards. Awesome!
Anyway, I digress. Enough gushing about my love for the Spices, let me tell you how we played homage to them this weekend.

We started out with tickets to the show Viva Forever! purchased by Katy and Claire (the Disney Princesses) as Christmas presents for me and their big sisters (the 2-4-1s) and then we all got over excited when we discovered that Harvey Nichols was serving a Spice Girls-themed afternoon tea in their Season restaurant and Spice Girls-themed champagne cocktails in their Fifth Floor Bar. So we booked in, last minute, to sample both before the theatre.

The afternoon tea started off with mini savoury bites: a cured beef and chutney bagel, an egg and cress roll, smoked salmon on pumpernickel and chicken and chutney roulade in fresh white bread, which we all wolfed down in our excitement to get to the sweet treats: the Sporty Spice cake pop, the Baby Spice mouse (served in a bottle), the Ginger Spice Union Flag lemon and ginger mille feuille, the Scary Spice chilli and chocolate roll (complete with white chocolate leopard print, ahem, decoration) and the Posh Spice Harvey Nics-branded marzipan and Victoria (of course) sponge handbag. There were also the usual scones with jam and clotted cream on the menu too.

You all know how I love a theme, and you all know how I love an afternoon tea, so add in the Spices and I was virtually fizzing with excitement. And then it got better... with cocktails!

We started off with some standard cocktails from the menu (with which we are already familiar, following our cocktail masterclass, back in the summer) and then we worked our way through the themed cocktails, which were delicious. It was difficult to select, but in the end I was happy with my choice of the Scary (Fresh chilli, lychee liqueur topped with Champagne). We spent most of our time talking about our favourite Spice (mine's Victoria - obvs), our favourite songs (mine being Who Do You Think You Are) dance routines (Spice Up Your Life) and generally making a spectacle of ourselves singing, laughing and pinning the bows from our cocktail glasses in our hair (I was grateful for the splash of leopard print against my all-black outfit)!

A few pictures as a group (sadly, no one took Katy's instructions to dress according to the Spice we had been allocated, except for me in black) then we piled in to a cab and made our way to the Piccadilly Theatre.

They clearly saw us (as in a gaggle of giggly, slightly intoxicated girls) coming at the door as we were immediately offered the opportunity to be "upgraded" to the Ambassador Lounge, a small private room with a dedicated waiter to bring us drinks and nibbles before the show and during the interval "for only a small fee". Hmmm. Of course we accepted and it was all pretty exciting as it was the room the Spices themselves had used on visiting the theatre to watch the show. Naturally we acted like complete geeks, singing and dancing around the room, posing for cheesy photos and generally not playing it in the slightest bit cool.

We needn't have worried, about playing it cool because the minute we walked out in to the theatre itself and saw the audience we fitted right in! 98% female, and 100% tipsy the audience, like us, was raring to get stuck in to some Spice Girls singalongs...

We weren't disappointed.

I won't ruin the story, but I will say that it won't be winning any Olivier awards. In the same vein as Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You, the story is just a vehicle for the songs to be introduced and you can see them coming a mile off. But, as a Spice Girls fan, guessing what's coming is one of the best bits!

I'm not a theatre critic so I won't analyse the staging, casting (although there were two stand outs!) or scripting but it has Jennifer Saunders written all over it, which is a good thing in my book. There's more than a hint of Eddie, Patsy and Bubble in amongst the main characters and I swear I heard one of Patsy's Ab Fab lines crop up. If you loved Ab Fab, Ugly Betty, Glee and The Catherine Tate Show you'll love the characters. If you follow(ed) shows like X Factor and Pop Idol you'll recognise parodies of some very prominent characters from  Saturday night TV and you've read Ben Elton's Chart Throb then you'll get the underlying message. Basically, if you read this list and know what I'm wittering on about, then we're on the same wavelength and you'll really enjoy it! I chose not to read the reviews, but I heard that the critics panned it. Clearly they were boring, a bit too serious, old, and male.

Come on. It's not Les Mis, but if you don't expect it to be, you can just appreciate it for what it is, and have fun. Also, when else can you go to the theatre and, during a touching romance scene, put your arms in the air and sing along to 2 Become 1 at the top of your voice or stand up and do the original dance moves along with with cast (and the rest of the audience) to Stop or Spice Up Your Life?

My suggestion? If you don't take yourself or your theatre choices too seriously, and, of course, if you are a Spice Girls fan then get your glittery platforms on, round up your best girls for a some pre-drinks and go see it!


Read more about the Viva Forever Champagne Cocktails here and the Viva Forever Afternoon Tea here.

Book tickets and find out more about Viva Forever, the show, here.