Tag Archives: Featured

Beauty Review: Top five Birchbox Picks

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I only joined Birchbox a few months ago, having always told myself it was too indulgent… but curiosity got the better of me and I’m now 5 boxes in. For those of you that don’t know, Birchbox delivers a monthly box of beauty goodies to your door, including a mix of sample size (and occasionally full-size) well-known, exclusive and cult brands. This means that you get to try lots of products to see what really suits you before buying the full-size versions – and it’s also great because it introduces you to brands and products you’ve never heard of. Here are my top 5 recommendations from this year’s Birchboxes:
Continue reading Beauty Review: Top five Birchbox Picks

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Life in Miniature

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If you’ve happened to stumble upon my earlier post “Utopia HQ“, you’ll know how much I love beautiful National Trust property Wallington House, previously the much-loved Northumberland home of the unconventional Trevelyan family.

Among Wallington’s quirky curiosities is the gorgeous Doll’s House room, which lovingly displays 18 houses, the oldest of which dates to 1835, and which includes the Hammond House, with 36 fully furnished rooms, 1,500 pieces of furniture and 77 china faced dolls. The Hammond House has electric lights in every room and even had running water! No trip to Wallington is complete for me until I’ve spent some time gazing through the tiny net curtained windows, and peeking into the often busy world of the dolls. I hope these photos give you a little taste of this life in miniature. Continue reading Life in Miniature

Ten Quirky Terrariums

I was browsing and rummaging my way around the lovely Tynemouth flea market recently when I found one of the Holy Grail items of unnecessary but somehow vital purpose – an old terrarium.

What is a terrarium, I hear you cry! Is it a place for fish or reptiles to live? No. That’s an aquarium or a vivarium. A terrarium is a glass container for growing plants, which can be open or sealed (with a little door for maintenance).

The old terrarium at the flea market was swiftly bought (by me) for the end-of-day-clearing-up-time bargain price of £9. Now clean and with a small pane of glass fixed, it lies empty on the living room shelf, watching me mournfully, and hopefully awaiting my imagination to kick in and fill it with awesome quirkiness (which I’m thinking may involve cacti and dinosaurs, and will no doubt become another blog post). Until then, here are 10 quirky terrarium ideas that other people with a little more time on their hands thought of, to tide us over any lean terrarium-idea times.

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Continue reading Ten Quirky Terrariums

The Girl from Montmartre

Hi,

Just wanted to share this delightfully pretty illustration with you, courtesy of the lovely Waltz in Water. Her blog is full of cute illustrations like this – “Cat Shoes”, “Les Triplettes” and “Carrie Bradshaw Lied” are also fabulous!

Jo x

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Her name is Catherine. She operates a small café in Montmartre, Paris. Note that there is no other place serving that much tasty french dishes in the neighbourhood.

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Film Review: Love and Mercy – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson

This week I went to the beautiful Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle’s historic independent filmhouse, for dinner and a movie with friends. The film in question was Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy, and within minutes I knew it was going to be one of the best films I’d ever seen. As a lifelong Beach Boys fan, I was aware, of course, of bandleader Brian Wilson’s creative genius and history of drug taking and mental health issues – but the extent to which these are intertwined and the horror of what Wilson went through mentally is mindblowing. Continue reading Film Review: Love and Mercy – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson

Simple Ikebana display

I’ve been following Sansei Life for a few months now and I often visit to explore her blog and chill out for a few minutes with her beautifully simple and peaceful posts. In her own words: “Sansei Life! A blog exploring and learning about the Asian community in Denver. When I was much younger I tried a new Japanese restaurant in Arvada called Namiko’s for a sushi snack. It was very good. I got into a conversation with Yuri the owner and she ended up offering me a part time job on weekends. I spent most of the first evening running to Yuri asking her what the various dishes were and what was in them and what they tasted like. In exasperation Yuri asked me if I was Japanese! She could not understand how a Japanese did not know simple restaurant fare.That is when I really understood that I was a Sansei out of touch with my culture. I am ready to experience and learn about today’s Asian culture”.

Ikebana (生け花, “living flowers”) is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and draws emphasis toward shape, line, form. Another aspect present in ikebana is its employment of minimalism. That is, an arrangement may consist of only a minimal number of blooms interspersed among stalks and leaves. The spiritual aspect of ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Silence is a must during practices of ikebana. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikebana).

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Ikebana, the art of observing nature.

Here is an ikebana display from my heart.

Simple ivy allowed to grow on its own path.  At one with nature, it is nature.

Reaching out on its own journey.

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Stormy Sunday Craft Mash-up: An Old Jar, Some Wool and Scraps of Paper

Stormy Sunday. During a brief afternoon lull of windy sunshine we managed a barbecue, during which ash blew over the burgers (they were still yummy); Dolly Parton had a huff over a piece of bacon and managed to get trapped in the garden behind ours again – during the “rescue” (reaching through the bushes and lifting her over some bird netting) she scratched my hand a lot; and the wind blew the kitchen door shut on my little finger (ow). Aah, the joys of a British “summer”!

Anyway, the storm was perfect for some last-minute craft using stuff I (and probably you) have lying around… Continue reading Stormy Sunday Craft Mash-up: An Old Jar, Some Wool and Scraps of Paper

A short history of The humble espadrille

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Espadrilles are once again “having a moment” – or should that be, they’ve been “having a moment” every summer for so many years that they’ve now made the leap into must-have summer staple. I’ve just ordered this pair from ASOS (yippee!) which I hope will cover me for a wedding, work and my summer holiday:

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Here’s a short history lesson on these humble rope and canvas shoes, followed by some summer shoe shopping inspo (another yippee!). The Archaeological museum of Granada holds the earliest known pair of espadrilles – estimated to be a staggering 4,000 years old, which were found with human remains inside the “cueva de los murielagos” (the bat-cave).

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A 4,000 year old fashion, still going strong. I’ll take mine from ASOS though, thanks.

Espadrilles were also commonly used in the Pyrenees as peasant footwear dating back as far as the 14th century. They first “had a moment” fashion-wise during the 19th Century in the French Pyrenean city of Mauléon, where they were apparently on-trend for soldiers and priests.

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Espadrilles next had a fashion resurgence in the USA in the 1940s, partly due to their appearance on the feet of Lauren Bacall’s stylish character Nora Temple in Key Largo.

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In 1970, Yves Saint Laurent  invented the wedge espadrille and women worldwide embraced the concept of a shoe that was comfortable and stylish, glamorous and casual.

Espadrille popularity skyrocketed again in the 1980s, thanks to Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson) in Miami Vice. 

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In SS2013, espadrilles even got the Chanel seal of approval with this seriously covetable pair:

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Today, the humble espadrille can take you from work to the supermarket and from the beach to dinner. Here are my top summer picks:

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Michael Kors $99
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Banana Republic $98
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H&M £12
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Kurt Geiger £150

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Monsoon £59
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ASOS £15
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Love Moschino £74
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Soludos £48

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Out of time

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me, while I looked around for my possibilities…

And it’s time, time, time that you learned…

I need a little time to think things over…

I haven’t looked at my blog for a week and a half. I love looking at my blog, so there is only one reason for this – time. In the past two weeks I’ve working away in the flat fens of East Anglia and in the shadow of the mountainous Lake District. Rushing from east coast to west coast, visiting my parents, taming wild rescue ponies and working on social media for the awesome PACT Animal Sanctuary, sorting out my parent’s camper van (packed to the brim with charity stuff), managing projects, going to a Foo Fighters gig, running the Newcastle branch of the Women’s Equality Party, going to my niece’s hen do dressed as Samantha from SATC, doing great crested newt surveys in the evenings and environmental education for schoolchildren in the daytime. Oh, and as our house purchase fell through a couple of weeks ago at the last minute, whenever I’m home I’ve been viewing houses every evening… and on Saturday, literally on the way to a friend’s wedding we bought a house! Continue reading Out of time

5 podcasts for the easily bored

Long car journeys, housework, chilling on the sofa, insomnia… in my opinion, there is almost no mundane situation which cannot be improved by listening to a good podcast. According to Wikipedia, “A Podcast is a digital medium that consists of a episodic series of audio, video, digital radio, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed on-line to a computer or mobile device”.

Woah! That sure sounds like fun! Not. According to Eclectic Feel, “Podcasts are nature’s way of taking care of stress and/or boredom. They are nuggets of audio awesomeness, generally lasting 10 minutes to an hour, which you can download and listen to at your leisure”.

As someone who is a) eclectic by nature b) easily bored c) always on the hunt for the interesting and unusual, here are my top 5 recommendations, in no particular order, whether you’re new to podcasts or a podcast fiend like me. Continue reading 5 podcasts for the easily bored