Monday, 25 June 2012

Everything old is new again.

Well, here I am, back at last! Alas, reports and an insanely busy week in general last week prevented me from writing any sooner, but I intend to make up for it this evening with some real treasures...

Today's (long-overdue) post shares its title with a beautiful song by Barenaked Ladies, an all time favourite band of mine. As promised in my last entry, I would like to share with you the fruits of some very inspired and talented labour, which upcycles the old and beautiful, so that it may become beautiful in a new way, to be rediscovered through fresh pairs of eyes.

The first of these artisans is Poppie Jasper, who has designed and created an online treasure trove of jewellery made from various objets trouvés. Many of the gorgeous charms, gems and beads she uses in her creations, the designer has in fact found during her travels around the globe. This is evident in the vibrancy and eclectic variety of her collections. I just love the juicy colours, the original designs and the quality of craftsmanship in Poppie Jasper's jewellery, all in addition to the fact that each stunning piece is unique and has its own history. I have selected a small assortment to post below, but allow me to direct you to her website and her shop on Etsy for the full feast!

Aren't they all beautiful?! I'm especially covetous of the last pair of earrings - the pairing of the orange and hot pink is utterly sumptuous. Any loved ones reading this, may I take this opportunity to remind you that my birthday's coming up in August...

The second of this evening's offerings is a delightful online company by the name of Scaramanga. Their profile has been raised considerably in recent months, having been featured in Vogue, but at the heart of what is fast becoming a much larger company, is a very humble beginning...

'Scaramanga was founded in June 2006 by Carl Morenikeji. He had the vision of bringing back the iconic vintage leather satchel after discovering one in a dusty bazaar in a former British colonial desert outpost in north west India in 1999. He carefully researched the traditional techniques and tools used to hand-make leather satchels and in August 2006 Scaramanga’s first twelve traditional leather satchels had been created by leather workers from craft-based communities with a long tradition of making leather bags. Back then satchels were not really popular and it took three months before they had sold. Between selling leather satchels Scaramanga sold other handcrafted and vintage homewares including journals, and old wooden boxes and wooden bowls.' - sourced from the About Us section on Scaramanga's own website.

They produce some really lovely vintage-style satchel bags, amongst other things, all made from quality vintage leather. I bought this beauty (below) for His Lordship as a birthday offering earlier this year, and it has since been duly admired by many.

These bags are stylish, practical and timeless, definitely future heirlooms in the making, so worth the investment. On that note, I also think they are truly great value for the materials used and the quality of the finished article.

I am almost loathe to share this next one with you at the moment, as her current stock is frankly slim pickings compared with the vast array of products I have seen of hers in the past, but if her present items don't appeal, I urge you to return to her site at a later date to see what she might have in store. Blythe King uses vintage materials, threads and buttons to create cases for Apple products, such as iPhones and MacBooks. I have one myself, which I purchased upon acquisition of my very first iPhone several years ago, and it is still going strong. I love the quirky prints she sources, and both the design and fabrication of her products are flawless. Practical, functional and individual - unlike so many of the other cases available on the market, hers are unique. My iSockit features a cute little pouch, which neatly accommodates a set of headphones and/or other small items, but none of her present offerings seem to have this. I very much hope that she will have a greater variety to showcase soon, in the meantime, here are a handful that caught my eye:

I would like to say at this point, that the above are all genuine recommendations - I have purchased items from all three of the aforementioned companies, and been extremely satisfied, nay thrilled with the results. This final listing is a website I stumbled upon whilst browsing, and I have no personal experience of their products or services, but I did love the look of their furniture enough to want to share it with you. The company is Ruby Rhino, and they have a selection of charming wooden furniture, any item of which I would gladly have in my home. NB the endearing monikers they give to each piece!

 'Every home needs a little bit of fabulous which is exactly what we provide at Ruby Rhino with our eclectic collection of antique, vintage and upcycled old furniture. Each piece is sourced for its unique style then lovingly restored, hand-painted and finished to give a sparkling new lease of life. We embrace imperfection by highlighting natural holes, cracks and scratches to allow the original charm to shine through.'  - sourced from Ruby Rhino's website.

Right, well that's all for this evening folks, though I will be back later in the week with a (hopefully!) delicious angel cake recipe, along with a few other bits and bobs. Take care in the meantime.

pp x

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The beauty of imperfection.

As a very small child, I can remember the internal and, more often than not, audible groan that escaped me whenever my parents would lead the way into an antiques shop. Every minute felt like an eternity in the musty, labyrinthine and tardis-like edifices that contained, to my ingenuous eyes, inconceivable amounts of old junk. Little did I know that my initial disinterest would later turn to curiosity, that in time would be followed by appreciation, and that ultimately, I  myself would become the kind of person that would happily while away an afternoon browsing antique shops, thirsting for hidden treasures.

There is something undeniably beautiful about age, a certain charm and allure to things or people that have a story, or indeed many, etched across their faces. Age, I suppose, is synonymous with experience, knowledge, history. If only inanimate objects could talk! Imagine the history each of them might have absorbed over the years - the intrigues they may have witnessed from their designated spot on the mantelpiece or dressing table...

There are so many buzzwords employed these days to essentially mean antique: vintage, preloved, shabby chic, upcycled, collectible etc, etc, and their increasing popularity has rendered them ubiquitous. Some might see their becoming commonplace as negative, but I am thrilled by it. I love the idea that people are becoming more inclined to put to use beautifully made things already in existence rather than fuelling the mass production of new things we don't really need. In fact, I resolved some time ago, that when it came to finding beautiful things to adorn myself or my home, that I would first turn to preloved ornaments, rather than soulless, mass-produced tat that you might find in a thousand homes up and down the country. That's not to say that somewhere like Ikea, for example, doesn't have its place, but I would gladly forgo shopping there permanently in favour of purchasing things with a little more je ne sais quoi. I suppose what I am trying to say is that next time you're on the look out for something pretty, why not consider re-homing an antique..?

Some of the inspiration for this post came from another post, written by our wonderful wedding photographer, Ria Mishaal, in which Ria discusses a shop she stumbled across in Oxford, Objects of Use, where each of the items they sell is tagged with details of its history and use - what a fabulous and utterly charming idea! There are many great places to find vintage treasures, from online boutiques to your local charity shop. Finding your own personal favourites is half the fun, but for me, I love the plethora of antique shops in Dorking, Ripley and Brighton, and online I don't think you can beat ebay or Etsy. As is my wont, I have posted a few gems for your perusal:

In a follow on from this post, early next week I will be looking at some of the wonderful people I have found who use old and beautiful items to create new and beautiful items for your purchasing pleasure. Be sure to stop by and check them out! Until then, I wish you all a wonderful week. Fais de beaux rêves...

pp x

Friday, 15 June 2012

Flirty, pretty things - the latest undies to put a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye.

TGI Friday! Welcome to the weekend, one and all, I do hope you've had a lovely week in spite of the relentlessly dreary weather - will the sun ever shine again?! This evening's surfing (while His Lordship is off watching the football, of course) has been focused, albeit not exclusively, on top buys for your top drawer...

A wisp of silk here, a scrap of lace there, the tender caress of satin... Any lingerie lover knows that nothing quite beats the thrill of a new set of naughty knickers and an ego-boosting brassiere. My bra size is in fact such a tricky one, that it often eludes me on the high-street, so I really do delight in beautiful lingerie sets when I find them in my size.

My first port of call for reliability, quality and a great fit is always Bravissimo. They stock various manufacturers, of which Masquerade is my all time favourite. Recently, however, I discovered Boux Avenue, Theo Paphitis's latest lingerie venture, when a new branch was opened in Guildford. The branding is appealing in its simplicity, the dressing rooms - which include some novel, if utterly pointless, mood lighting for you to play with - are sumptuous and spacious, and they frequently hold sales with some fantastic deals to be had. As if this wasn't recommendation enough, they also scatter deliciously pretty, scented fabric petals in with your purchase. Watching this ritual is faintly reminiscent of the amusing, "Would you like it gift wrapped?" scene in Love Actually between Rowan Atkinson and Alan I-probably-still-would Rickman (posted below for your viewing pleasure).

A mention must also be spared for good old M&S, which I know is a favourite amongst many for all their underwear needs. I tend to find myself limited to their knickers and hosiery: they have recently upped their game in the style stakes, certainly, but I'm not convinced of their sizing. Having said that, some of their latest styles are so pretty that they might just be worth the hassle of trying on the same bra in three different sizes.

Anyway, here are just a few of the delights that have caught my eye, including some super cute nightwear from Boux, in case you require a little inspiration to treat yourselves, or perhaps your partners? ;-)


Rhea by Masquerade in Antique Ice (I have this in Antique Rose - so beautiful and fabulously well-made)

Boux Avenue

Marks & Spencer

Limited Collection Teacup Print padded balcony bra (the print on this is very sweet :-)

Do please let me know your thoughts on the above - or indeed on any previous posts - by commenting in the boxes below each post. You can also interact via facebook and twitter. I would love to hear from you!

pp x

Monday, 11 June 2012

Retrospective patriotism and more excuses (for you) to shop.

A very good evening to you all.

I am excited to report - however naïve I may sound in so doing... - that my site has had 69 hits since my inaugural post during the wee small hours of Sunday morning.  Now, perhaps that's not in fact very good at all, but by my reckoning, that's approximately 1.6 hits per hour, which to me seems an acceptable figure for a brand new venture! A sincere thank you to each and every one of you who has taken the time to view the site, read my posts and give me some feedback. Your support is, truly, very much appreciated.

This evening, I have a few odds and sods to share, but firstly, I wanted to mention briefly the recent royal festivities. I have read various posts on facebook and in the media over the past weeks, suggesting that they were not, by any means, unanimously well received. Whilst I fully appreciate that not everyone is a royalist (God save the Queen), I do find that turning one's nose up at a celebration in honour of someone who has dedicated their life to good causes, at an occasion uniting people in celebration of our national heritage or even, on a more prosaic level, at a four day weekend and an excuse for a stonking good party, rather distasteful. To all those of you who were bah humbug about the whole affair, don't expect an invitation to my coronation party.

Last year, school was open on the day of the Royal Wedding (yes, I am a teacher), and although we celebrated by watching most of the service followed by a fish & chip lunch out in the grounds, it wasn't the same as being involved in a street party. Naturally, I was not going to let the Jubilee pass me by without some kind of festivity, and so, as we don't really live on a street per se, I invited some of our nearest and dearest to join us for a red, white and blue tea party...

Vanilla ice cream cupakes

Strawberries & cream cupcakes with handmade (by me!) Union Jacks

'Misspent Monday evening'. Oil on canvas.

In search of Jubilee themed baking paraphernalia, I happily stumbled across this lovely little site (planetbake) - great for all your baking goody needs, and from which the bunting, confetti, foil cases and red, white & blue nonpareils you see above were all sourced. I am salivating at the mere memory of those cakes. I love to bake. I will endeavour to make time this weekend amidst report writing to try out something new to share here with you.

It's no good, I can only hold out so long. Moving on to shopping!

Today, I thought you might like your attention drawn to the Kurt Geiger half price sale. All the Kurt Geiger brands are great quality, and you can pick up fantastic bargains in the sale if you're lucky enough to find the prettiest shoes left in your size.

Next, if you love beautiful homeware as much as I do, check out Cox & Cox for some lovely things, either to treat yourself, or if, like me, you can't justify that for one reason or another, their bits and bobs make wonderful gifts. The reason I mention them particularly today is because I have a cheeky discount code to share with you for 15% off your order: PDS12. I say cheeky because I received this offer through the post as I've purchased from them before - this is not an advertised promotion.

Lastly, for another naughty discount code, here's one for up to 25% at Boden: AR29. I find myself rather drawn to this absurdly kitsch cardi in silver melange:

Perhaps now is the time to confess that it is my intention to design and bring to market a bracelet embossed with W.W.R.B.W (What would Rachel Berry wear?)..?

<cue tumbleweed>

 Anyway, that's me all done for this evening. Happy Monday!

pp x

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Vicarious shopping.

Good afternoon, world :-)

I have been doing a little research for this post this afternoon, which has mostly involved staring longingly at beautiful things on screen, knowing that, tragically, I am unable to purchase a single one. Please take out your violins and pass me a tissue...

My sob story is this: sadly, hubby-to-be (who shall henceforth be referred to as His Lordship, since I inadvertently treat him as such 90% of the time) and I are saving for our wedding this coming December. This has, most disturbingly, put paid to my shopping addiction on pretty much all fronts - I find myself restricted to food items, toiletries and cleaning products in the supermarket. The result of this is that last week I spent 15 minutes agonising over which handwash to buy. I cannot believe it has come to this. Thankfully I still have the odd wedding purchase to punctuate my otherwise cold turkey existence. If it weren't for those, I'm certain I'd be demanding some kind of anti-depressant from the doctor.

I occasionally taunt myself by window shopping. It's like the childish pleasure derived from fiddling with a wobbly tooth - it hurts, but is somehow strangely satisfying. Anyway, the other day, my wanderings took me into Dorothy Perkins. Now, back in the day I was never a great fan of dotty p's - I thought their cuts weren't great and their materials rather on the cheap side, but I've grown rather fond of them over the past few months and I'm loving their prints this season! The best thing about dotty p's is how astonishingly reasonable their prices are. I'm not saying you'll find treasure forever heirlooms in there, but if you're looking to find cheaper on-trend items to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank, they are well worth a look. In addition to this, they are running a promotion at the moment: 'like' them on facebook and they give you a discount code for 15% off when ordering online. Can't be bad!

I have had a quick browse and here are some of my favourites:

Anyway, unlike me, I hope some of you may be able to take advantage of the discount code and shop yourselves happy! Enjoy!

pp x

A long time coming...

How exciting, my very first post!

This first post has in actual fact been waiting to be written for many months now. My attention was first drawn to the true wonders of blogging only this time last year; of course, I was aware that it had become something of an internet phenomenon many years ago (who hasn't read Belle de Jour?!), but it was only when my now soon-to-be-hubby proposed last year that the online glut of wedding paraphernalia led to my personal discovery of a whole world of wonderful blogs, wedding-related or otherwise.

Since that time, aside from delving into an array of compelling, and some very successful blogs, I have been keeping a journal. It is a beautiful, though now somewhat grubby around the egdes, orange Paperchase tome, which I have been sporadically filling over the past year with thoughts, ideas, quotes, lyrics, pretty pictures, things I have bought/would like to purchase etc, etc, and I have taken great pleasure in so doing. However, I've been increasingly tempted to share some of these, what I consider to be lovely things with the rest of the world, if indeed anyone cares to read about them!

So do please excuse me while I find my feet, and I very much hope you will enjoy what I find to share...

pp (petite pie) x