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The Better Living Series#4: Make Me A Happy Home

Our houses are so much more than just shelter from the elements. It’s the place where we expect to find peace; feel safe; be ourselves; relax; represent who we are; have friends over, and most of all, be happy!

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

As an excited first-time homeowner, it’s so important that the place that Mr.D and I call home is somewhere that brings us a lot of peace and happiness – a place that we can’t wait to come home to every day. And happiness doesn’t always come from designer kitchens, finished basements, and Olympic sized pools – although I wouldn’t say no to any of those! But quite often it’s the simple things that that make a house a home and bring a sense of peace, happiness, and well-being. These are the things that make mine a happy home.

1. LET’S GET PERSONAL

Many of us would like to live in the kind of home that wouldn’t look out of place among the pages of Home and Garden – or in my case, MTV Cribs! But in trying to do so, we get so bogged down with the details concerning our chosen theme or colour scheme that we discard anything that doesn’t ‘go’ with the decor – even though quite often these are the very things that reflect our personality and gives the home we live in a sense of identity and signs of life.

A few of your favourite things

A few of your favourite things

I’m often quite underwhelmed by homes that don’t seem to contain anything personal or tell me anything about the people who live there. To me it feels a little soulless. So I love to see photographs, artwork, holiday souvenirs, collections on display, a library of well-loved books, home made furnishings, home-grown flowers in a vase… anything that tells a story and says something about the habits, interests and personality about the owner of the house.

True there should be some flow between personal objects and the style of the house but with a little imagination, you can bring together the most eclectic of objects bound together in your own inimitable style. So our house is most definitely going to refect our love of travel, rock music, food, family and friends, 1980s nostalgia, angels and… Lego! Now that’s some story to tell!

2. DISPLAY PHOTOS

There’s hardly anyone out there who doesn’t carry some kind of device for taking photos which means that they can literally snap away any time, any place, anywhere. Taking photos has never been easier. But unfortunately most people have a tendency to just leave the photos on their phones or tablets or upload them on to social media and then just forget about them. When I worked in a gift shop, most of my customers would only really buy photo frames or albums as a last resort. “Well that’s what Facebook’s for,” they’d say.

Well I personally think that’s a waste of a good photo.

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When I lived at home with my family, I was photo mad. My room was a shrine to me and Mr.D. which some people found nauseating but who cares! Then I framed photos and put them all over the house which annoyed my family as they kept knocking them over. Which in turn annoyed me if the photos were just left lying there, or worse the frame was broken. And when we moved to the States, I couldn’t bring my mammoth collection with me but I made sure I had enough to put all over the apartment.

I love displaying photos and I don’t think a home feels complete without them. There’s nothing like seeing the faces of the people you love most every day, especially when they can’t be with you in person as often as you’d like. Each photo tells a story and gives you the chance to relive memories. I’ve also found that photos can be a real talking point when you have guests over – especially with people you don’t know very well.

And there’s an array of gorgeous frames available to suit everyone’s taste, to simple and elegant to colourful and funky. Yep, I’ve got the lot!

3. A SOFT SPOT FOR SOFT FURNISHINGS

As the child of parents who own a soft furnishings business, I definitely have a liking for soft furnishings – much more than Mr. D does. I think they add a touch of luxury and a lot of comfort and really make a house feel like a home. True, I’m not into doilies, you’ll never find chairbacks or armcaps on my sofa, and I’m not sure how fussed I am about tablecloths. 

 

But I know that I’m most definitely a fan of curtains. I appreciate the beauty of a well dressed window as well as the practicalities of providing privacy and retaining warmth. Beautiful bedding is a must; beanbags and floor cushions provide extra, informal seating for guests, and I don’t believe that a couch is really a couch unless is got throws – perfect for snuggling under when you’re watching TV or surfing the net – and a truckload of cushions. Not that Mr. D would agree with me!

And what I love most about soft furnishings is that it really is the quickest, most convenient, and possibly the cheapest way of instantly changing the appearance of a room.

4. SIMPLY SCENTSATIONAL

Like songs, certain aromas are highly evocative and have an effect on our moods, feelings and well-being. But quite often how fab  – or unfab – your home smells is often overlooked.

When I used to live in a house-share, some of the highly pungent foods that my housemates used to cook would make me want to gag. I would have to hold my breath as I walked into the kitchen and I would be afraid that the not-so-sweet fragrances would be lingering on my clothes. And I couldn’t even escape it in my bedroom where the dreaded smell would be wafting up into my room. So even though I do have happy memories of my time in the house-share, this was not one of them!

But pleasant aromas can have a positive effect on us and can make us feel refreshed, calm, energised and can induce sleep. Everyone knows why people eager to sell their homes are keen to have the aroma of freshly baked goodies wafting around their home, and its that same smell that can be delightfully welcoming to a guest visiting your home. That and freshly ground coffee, and beautifully-scented cut flowers.

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I’m not really a fan of air freshener or highly fragranced cleaning products with that ghastly synthetic smell, so I wouldn’t use those. But I do love good quality scented candles and incense sticks; good old-fashioned drawer liners and lavender sachets; essential oils being used in oil burners, floral-scented water spritzed over bedding, and an aromatic bath doesn’t just do wonders for you but also makes your bathroom smell divine.

And although I wouldn’t normally have it in the house the rest of the year, I really don’t think Christmas is Christmas without some festive-looking and festival smelling pot pourri!

5. MAKE TEA-TIME A REAL TREAT

It wasn’t anything as grand as afternoon tea in a posh hotel or quaint tea-room but growing up, tea-time was a pretty big deal in my family – especially when I went to Granddad’s house. Everything stopped for tea! I guess that’s where I get my love of afternoon tea from.

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Unfortunately with the hours most of us work, tea at four o’clock every day is impossible. It would however make a fabulous,  relaxing weekend treat – just what’s needed to help you unwind. And why not go to town by using real china, cake stands and serving lots of scrumptious, sweet, creamy delicacies?

There’s no reason why tea-time at home shouldn’t be every bit as enjoyable as at your local tea shop.

6.  HAVE A BAKE-IN!

Closely linked to number five, baking used to be regarded as something that your mum or gran would do especially if you needed cheering up or deserved a treat. But for a long time it wasn’t really considered cool or especially trendy. When we wanted a birthday cake or fresh bread, we headed over to our local bakery rather than whip something up ourselves. We all live such hectic lives that when we get home after a hard day’s work, the last thing we feel like doing is creaming butter and sugar!

I knead to bake!

I knead to bake!

But baking can be relaxing, enjoyable and therapeutic.  And shows such as Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Next Great Baker have reignited our enthusiasm  for baking and enabled us to get happy with the mixing bowl again.

Baking is an activity which involves all five of the senses. Who doesn’t love the sight of prettily iced cupcakes; the texture of bread as it’s being kneaded; the taste of choc chip cookies; the aroma of delicious home baking, and best of all, the sound of everyone happily tucking in!

7. CANDLELIGHT

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If there’s something else I think that makes a home complete other than framed photos out on display, it’s candles – and lots of them. And if they’re scented candles then that’s even better. There’s nothing like the cosy, warm glow of candlelight to bring that touch of magic into your home. It’s great for when you want to unwind, meditate, or get romantic. Candlelight is also great to fall asleep to but for this I would strongly recommend the common sense option of battery operated candles.

8. CREATE YOUR OWN SPACE

When Mr.D and I lived in London, we had to make do with a flat that was a little on the cosy side! But despite this, Mr.D and I both marked out places that were our ‘spots.’ These were places where we could put our feet up; watch a bit of telly; read; have a cuppa; blog or do crafts (me!) play computer games (definitely Mr. D!) and have it looking the way we wanted it to look.

When you live with others, I think it’s important for you to pick a place in the house that you can call your own: a place where you can talk on the phone; read a novel; write etc. and generally just slow down, enjoy your own company and be lost in your own thoughts. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

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Your own space could be a comfy armchair by the window; a window seat with a nearby bookcase containing your fave novels; a corner of the room with bean bags, floor cushions and a side table with all your fave knick-knacks on it. In fact who even says it has to be indoors? Maybe you could relax on a blanket beside gorgeous, sweetly scented rose bushes in your garden, or a bench under a tree.

In one episode of Wife Swap, I came across a lady who had built a thirty thousand dollar meditation feature in her garden, which she never used for meditating but she did like sitting out there and admiring it (admittedly, we don’t all have the budget for that!)

9. TO READ OR NOT TO READ

Knowing that printed literature is fast becoming obsolete makes me feel sad as just looking at a book puts me in a better mood. To say that I am a bookworm is something of an understatement. I grew up with books, newspapers, and magazines and I cannot imagine a world without them.

Yes, I know that E-readers are all the rage and that everyone reads newspapers and magazines online these days. But when I was growing up, the focal point of the sitting room were the bookshelves that contained Dad’s vast collection of books which he used to sit and read most evenings in ‘his space’. And I like the fact that some kind of reading material perched on a coffee table gives a home a nice ‘lived-in’ feel.

 

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And taking a look at people’s bookshelves also tells you a lot about them. Mine reveal my love of crafts, writing, studying languages and chick lit. My mum’s extensive collection of recipe books gives away her love of cooking, being a bit of a feeder, and ambition to be the next Masterchef! My brother’s books show that he’s sports mad, while Mr. D’s reading material point towards being a Trekkie and avid watcher of Game Of Thrones and that he loved Brian Jacques books as a kid.

10. WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

Sleep: the one thing that most of us can’t get enough of and would never say no to more of – if only we had the time!

When I’m sleep deprived I am not a happy bunny but then, who is? That’s why it’s so important that your bedroom is a tranquil haven where you can nod off easily and get adequate hours of peaceful slumber. And when I’m not sleeping, my bedroom is the place where I lounge around, read, and meditate, so it really is the place where I get some much needed rest and relaxation.

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That’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that, if it can be helped, you should never use your bedroom for working or studying in. It should ideally be kept clutter-free and as device- free as possible which, yes I know is hard, but we all know how technological gadgets interfere with our sleep. And if you suffer from allergies like Mr. D and me, then its important to keep your sleeping area clean, tidy and dust-free.

Even though my bedroom when I lived at home was pretty loud (which wasn’t a problem for me) most people would generally decorate their rooms in calming, serene colours or darker colours which help them to nod off more easily. Use adequate blinds, curtains and poles for windows as early morning sunlight seeping into your room might cause you to wake up sooner than you would like.

11. PEOPLE!

You can decorate your home any way you like but it’s the people we love who bring the happiness and laughter into our homes. And being a born hostess who loves nothing better than to entertain, I love having friends over to watch movies, major sports games or to stay for the weekend. I enjoy throwing parties and gatherings; hosting formal dinner parties or informal supper nights, and my famous cocktail and canapés events.

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After all what’s the point of having a beautiful home of you can’t share it with your amazing family and friends?

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The Kimono: Mrs. D’s Summer Must-Have

 

Everyone who knows me that I’m a shrug girl. I live in them as much as I live in my jeans. My brother often asks me why I keep wearing cardigans that have shrunk in the wash but I don’t care: along with scarves, it’s something of a trademark for me and a godsend for us girls who prefer to keep our less-than-toned-arms covered. In fact I even had a shruggy, bolero-type thing to go with my wedding dress – but that was more at my mum’s insistence as she didn’t want Father John tut-tutting!

Anyway the recent, warmer weather has made it virtually impossible to wear a shrug, especially at work where the building is overly warm in the winter months alone – so it’s like a furnace in the summer!

So what’s a girl to wear?

I saw kimono-style tops in the shops last summer and toyed with the idea of getting some but didn’t think that I could pull it off. I figured most of the styles would swamp my petite frame. So instead I just wore my shrugs and roasted!

This summer, I decided that I couldn’t go another three months in a sweltering classroom and decided I’d give the kimonos a go in a bid to stay cool. And it’s a good job I did.

I actually think kimonos suit me, and I’ve had quite a few compliments from colleagues – who are probably relieved I’ve discovered a new look! They don’t swamp my frame at all; they go with everything in my wardrobe and I actually feel quite elegant, boho and trendy in them (yes – all at the same time!) The kimonos I have are all made of very light-weight fabrics, some of them have fringing, one is made of lace, and I have an array of patterns and colours.

Kimonos are really versatile, and can easily take you from day to night. They are cool, edgy, funky and are the epitome of festival chic. And the longer length ones work great as something to throw on over your cossie when you’re at the beach.

 

Things I Got From My Mother – And Other Stories!

 

Here in the UK, Mother’s Day was way back in March. But the rest of the world -including Mr. D. – will be honouring their beloved mums on Sunday. But whether we’ll be celebrating or not, we’ll definitely be keeping our mums in mind.

Everyone says I’m my mother’s double. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve actually been mistaken for her. No it’s not that I look so old (well at least I hope not!) but Mum looks so young. She really could pass for my (slightly older!) sister. But I always felt that our looks are where our similarities begin and end as personality-wise we couldn’t be more different. I’m definitely more outgoing whereas Mum’s a bit reserved. Our style in dressing is very different: I probably dress a little too young for my age (why not? I can get away with it. I think!) whereas Mum dresses in a way that makes the Queen look like Avril Lavigne (which always frustrates me!) I like a good drink and can really put those cocktails away but Mum’s a teetotaller  who just has to look at a glass of wine and her head starts to spin. I like my music loud and angry while Mum’s the queen of the easy listening classics. We couldn’t be more different – or so I thought…

I was in bookshop this afternoon, perusing the cook books and wondering what to add to my already ever-increasing stack of cook books when it dawned on me where I got my addiction from – Mum! As a kid Mum had a whole load of cookery books (and I do mean a whole load of books) which I used to pore over, looking at the pics, while Mum would be putting the recipes to good use. All these years later, I’m doing the same (all I now need is the little girl to sit on the kitchen worktop and pore over the books…)

It got me thinking about other ways in which I’m a lot like my mother. I’m often so busy focusing on the differences that I don’t think about things that we have in common. It’s the same with the majority of my friends – they love their mums to bits but don’t think that they’re anything alike. Maybe one day they’ll also discover that they’re more alike than they think.

1. MUM AND I ARE BOTH FEEDERS!

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This is where the cook books come into effect. When you come to our homes, you’d better be coming with an empty stomach. Just don’t think you’ll be leaving with one. In fact you may need a crane to carry you out because we’re in danger of overstuffing you! Nothing makes us happier than cooking for other people and having people around our table (something we both get from Mum’s mum and my lovely grandma) and we feel really humbled by the appreciative comments we get.

2. WE WATCHED ALL THE SOAPS RELIGIOUSLY… BUT DON’T NOW!

 

I got my love of soaps from my mum who used to watch them all: Coronation Street, Crossroads, Dynasty, Dallas, Emmerdale Farm… and naturally I’d watch these too and became something of a soap addict myself, especially with the advent of EastEnders, Neighbours, and Home And Away. It was amazing because I couldn’t remember my six times table but I could remember what caused Sue Ellen to slap JR six episodes ago!

However over the years our love of soaps dwindled. In Mum’s case it’s because she’s too busy to keep up with what’s happening in Weatherfield or Albert Square, and in my case it’s because I just don’t watch TV as much as I used to, and on the odd occasion when I do tune in, I’d much rather watch something other than soaps (which in my opinion aren’t as good as they used to be anyway!)

3. WE’RE GREAT WHEN IT COMES TO THE OLD HOSPITALITY!

 

I only invite people into my home if I really like them, so it’s very important to me that everyone who does come to our home, whether it’s for a quick visit or to stay for a while, is made to feel very welcome and know that we are happy to have them over. So we go out of our way to make sure they’re happy, comfy and that they treat the place like their second home  (even though all of the above meant that Mr.D. and I once had to sleep on the sofa. Not good but hey – it was for our friends!)

And looking after guests is something I learned from Mum. However I think most people prefer to go to Mum’s than mine because she’s a much better cook than I am!

4. SPORT IS NOT OUR THING.

 

Just about everyone in our family is into a sport of some kind. And just about everyone supports a particular football team.

All except Mum and me. I’ve tried to get sporty in the past but it just wasn’t happening. Mum didn’t even try! It’s a good job I don’t live in California or I really would be in trouble.

We do however tune in to watch the World Cup especially when England’s playing. That’s as sporty as we get!

5. AND NEITHER IS DRIVING!

Mum never learnt to drive and nor has she ever wanted to. I once asked her why and she said that if she learnt to drive then that would be one less thing that Dad did – and he doesn’t do much as it is!

I did get my licence but sadly I’m a real hazard on the road so I tend to leave the driving to those who are less of a calamity.

6. WE’RE NOT ONES TO COMPLAIN

 

OK maybe not strictly speaking true as we have been known to have the odd grumble. But compared to a lot of people we know, we hardly ever complain. If life’s getting us down, something seems unfair, or we’re just having a bad day, we just suck it up and get on with it.

And on the rare occasions when we do complain, it’s only because it’s absolutely necessary. I guess you could say that we know how to pick our battles.

7. OUR BODIES ARE MADE UP OF NINETY SEVEN PER CENT SUGAR!

 

It’s not just my looks I got from my Mum but my incredible sweet tooth. Thanks to her, I’m a real sucker for sugar and it’s virtually unheard of for me to go to a restaurant and not end a meal with a dessert. And if I’m too stuffed for dessert, I at least take a peak at the dessert menu to see what I’m missing out on!

8. WE’RE USELESS WITH TECHNOLOGY

Oh my goodness, where do I begin with this? At least with Mum, she was born way before technology took hold of us the way that it has. She didn’t grow up in an era where people stopped breathing if they were clinically detached from their iPhones. I however, have no excuse especially as I’m a blogger as well. I’m not as bad as I’m making out as given a certain amount of time, I can usually figure things out. That said, I’m still far from good!

9. ADVICE IS OUR MIDDLE NAME

 

For as long as I can remember, people having been calling on my mum whenever they had a problem of some kind – and they still do. Perhaps it’s because Mum’s very understanding, a good listener, gives good advice, and tries to help out in any way that she can.

Well it’s a good job I’ve been trained by the best because at I’ve had all sorts of people – friends, family, colleagues, clients, random people on the bus – confiding in me about their problems.

I guess I just have one of those faces!

10. WE’RE REAL HOME BIRDS

 

Mum was always a home bird. I don’t think she even went to the pub as a teenager. I, on the other hand, was a real night owl, and once I got a taste of London night life there was no stopping me.

However now that I’m older, those wild nights out are pretty much a thing of the past – although nothing comes between me and my rock gigs! I’d much rather stay at home and cook for friends. and believe it or not, we still manage to have a great time!

Hope all the mums out there enjoy their special day!

 

Begin With That Summer Skin In Seven Simple Steps

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Summer is just a matter of weeks away and it’ll be here before we know it. And despite the fact that it’s very cool today, no one could have failed to notice that the temperature has been rising these last few days. And as the temperature starts to soar, there’ll be lots of legs, arms, shoulders and tums on display, so it’s important to start getting your skin looking it’s very best. The winter months means that we’ve cranked up the central heating and indulged in long, hot baths which aren’t the best things for your skin. In addition to that, our bodies have been kept under wraps during the winters months and our skin hasn’t been getting the TLC it needs.

Well now’s our last chance to get our skin looking and feeling in tip-top condition before the big reveal in the sweltering heat of the Summer.

1. EXFOLIATE

It’s super important to exfoliate before you tackle anything else as it makes hair removal easier, and the moisturising and tanning products more effective. Exfoliating is also important for removing and preventing ingrowing hairs, getting rid of scaly skin, and preventing blocked pores. For those of you who shave as part of your hair removal regime, exfoliating means that your razor won’t get clogged with flaky skin.

If your skin is a bit on the parched side, it will be more effective for you to use a scrub on dry skin rather than wet. Pay particular attention to heels, knees, and elbows.

I swear by using my loofah but I don’t have a particular favourite scrub although I generally prefer to use one which has lots of lovely natural ingredients and is cream based rather than oil based. Find the scrub that works best for your skin but remember NEVER use a scrub designed for your body on your face – it’s much too harsh.

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2. HAIR REMOVAL

I still can’t get over the shock of seeing a lady on the bus wearing a short skirt with seriously hairy legs. It was definitely a case of ‘what were you thinking?’ in conjunction with ‘are my eyes deceiving me?’ Unfortunately they weren’t but it goes without saying that summer clothes generally mean fuzz-free skin, paying close attention to legs, underarms and bikini line – especially if you’re hitting the beach.

There are a whole ton of hair removal methods – shaving, waxing, epilating, depilatory creams,  or laser hair removal – so choose what works best for you.

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3. MINIMISE CELLULITE

Urgh the dreaded dimply, orange-peel skin that strikes fear into the hearts of women everywhere! Cellulite has been the bane of my life for more years than I care to remember but I know that my unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is to blame so I can’t really talk. The key here is to stick to a diet that is rich in wholegrains, raw fruit and vegetables and oily fish and low in salt, caffeine, and processed fatty food (yes, all the things I love!) Oh yes, and to get exercising!

There are also a lot of cellulite creams that reduce the appearance of cellulite by eliminating the toxins under your skin. And of course body brushing is fantastic for eliminating cellulite and getting rid of dry skin. Sadly it does feel like you’re being attacked with brambles but once you get passed this stage the results will be worth it!

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4. MOISTURISE

I know, I know – we’re all a little lazy when it comes to moisturising and I must confess I’m no different. But if you want to keep skin looking young, supple, hydrated and flake-free then it’s a must so regular moisturising is a stage that should never be skipped.

There’s some fantastic products out there in the form of lotions, oils, body butters, whipped body butters etc. but if you’re a bit neglectful with the old moisturising, then try adding some oil in your bath water for some much needed hydration.

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5. ELIMINATE DARK PATCHES

It would be delightful if we all had an even skin tone but in reality a lot of people don’t. Toes, knees, elbows and knuckles are just some of the areas that typically tend to be a little bit darker than the rest of our bodies. There are creams available which even out skin tone, and you can naturally lighten these areas by rubbing  half a lemon over them for fifteen minutes a day. Yes, you’ll feel a bit of a lemon while you’re doing it but it does work! If you find lemon to be a bit harsh, try potato slices.

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6. BANISHING ACNE

I really sympathise with women who have acne on certain parts of their bodies. I was lucky as a teen in that I didn’t have facial acne unlike a lot of my schoolmates. But life had a bigger surprise for me in store, and as I approached my twenties I got hit by the acne stick all over my chest, upper arms, and worst of all my back. It was not a pretty sight and quite embarrassing, and I was stuck with it for years.

Thankfully I was spared a visit to my doctor. Changing to organic bath products that were free of SLS, using a body wash that contained tea tree oil, and cleansing, toning and moisturising these areas the same way I did my face (yes, even my back which might explain my super long arms!) helped tremendously and now, apart from the odd spot every now and again, my skin is very clear. And I have to admit, I do love wearing, sleeveless, strapless, off-the-shoulder, or backless clothes because there was a time I could never get away with such outfits.

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 7. TAN

I have to admit that I’ve never used a fake tanning product in my life as I’ve never needed to so I can’t pretend to be the world’s greatest expert in this area. But I know that for some ladies, the appeal of a fake tan is that they feel healthier and look slimmer. Tanning products work best with smooth skin, so if you’ve followed all the previous steps, your product should go on easily and effectively with minimal risk of streaking.

Build up your tan gradually every day or use one that develops overnight and lasts several days. And don’t forget areas such as feet, ankles and fingers.

And I have to say, I’ve seen some awful fake tan jobs in my time (who hasn’t!) so go easy on the product and aim to get a gorgeous, naturally-looking, sunkissed glow.

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Bring on Summer!

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My Anti-Bucket List

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Kick the Bucket.”

In the last few years, the world has gone bucket list mad – including me! There’s tons of things we all hope to do before we ‘kick the bucket’.

I’ve always been a bit of a bucket list girl and I’ve already managed to tick quite a few things off my list including being front row at a concert; visiting certain countries; going to a New Kids On The Block concert; finding my dream job, and marrying the love of my life.

But there’s still plenty of things that I haven’t done and am still waiting to tick more off my list, such as spending NYE in Time’s Square; writing a book; becoming a really good baker and confectioner; reading the entire Bible, and becoming fluent in another language… and many, many more! In fact I don’t think I’ll ever have a completely crossed-off list as I keep adding to it.

But the thought of an anti-bucket list had never occurred to me until I saw The Daily Post’s writing prompt, and it got me thinking about things I would never in a million years want to do, want to have, or want to go to!

So here’s my selection of twenty (that’s right, twenty) things – in no particular order – that complete my anti- bucket list!

1. LEARN TO MAKE QUICHE

image from bbcfood.com

image from bbcfood.com

I absolutely hate quiche with a passion. If you came to my house for lunch, you can be sure that you won’t be served with this vile savoury tart/flan/whatever you want to call it. Why the rest of the world is quiche crazy, I’ll never know. Even though I want to hone my baking skills, this is one area of baking I don’t feel I need to even bother trying to learn let alone improve upon.

2. BECOME A BIGOT

Obviously no one goes through life intent on becoming a bigot. And even when most people do have an extreme intolerance towards others, they naturally won’t admit to it or even realise how offensive their views are- though you will get a few who don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with having such prejudicial views and will defend these views to the hilt. What they don’t seem to understand is how ignorant they sound.

Going through life with an open mind is so important on many different levels and for so many reasons- at the very least it makes the world a far better place.

3. APPEAR ON THE APPRENTICE

 

Don’t get me wrong – I love watching The Apprentice and tune in every year to find out who will be Lord Sugar’s new business partner. It’s addictive, and as someone who’s keen to go into business, it is of great interest to me.

There are times I think, fleetingly, about applying to go on the show but I know I never would. The other contestants show way too much arrogance, ruthlessness and attitude, and many of them are nowhere near as good as they claim to be. I really don’t think I could handle so many huge egos under one roof.

I’ll still continue to watch the show though!

4. VOTE UKIP

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The media would have you believe that the whole country is full of UKIP supporters even though I know that that’s not necessarily the case. I can see why a lot of people have fallen under the spell of Farage and co. but those who can look at things objectively can see that they clearly lack credibility, so whether they are the flavour of the month or not, I will not be jumping on the bandwagon and be voting UKIP.

And is it just me, or does their logo resemble something similar to a budget supermarket chain?

5. READ FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

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It’s meant to have enhanced activity in the boudoir and had women buying the E.L. James novel in droves. Nothing wrong with that of course. However, unlike Christian Grey, I am a hearts and flowers kind of person, so this isn’t a book that will be gracing my bookshelf, and I prefer old-fashioned though slightly corny romance rather than raunchy in your face erotica. Give me Mills and Boon any day!

6. WATCH WHAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HOT ON  BRITISH TV RIGHT NOW

 

The Only Way Is Essex, Made In Chelsea, Big Brother, The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, I’m A Celebrity… these might constitute compulsive viewing at the moment but quite frankly I find it all quite boring.  I used to watch shows like these a long time ago but then it started to lose a bit of its gloss and I just gave up. However, I can’t escape these shows entirely because the ‘stars’ are always in the media. Even though I can’t profess to be a National Geographic kind of girl, this sort of telly really isn’t for me either.

7. BABYSIT A SPOILT CHILD

I like children as much as the next person but when it comes to children who lack discipline, don’t know the meaning of the word no, and think that all adults should do as they’re told (by them)… forget it! I once had the misfortune of babysitting a child (and not just any child, but a relative!)  who was a complete and utter nightmare but clearly thought that his behaviour was cute. And when his mum was told about his behaviour, she clearly couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to handle a spoilt child. I’m obviously not one of them.

8. BECOME ADDICTED TO TECHNOLOGY

There’s no denying that we’re in the digital age and we all use technology to some degree. But to become addicted to gadgets to the point where it overrides common sense and courtesy is unacceptable. I really don’t wish to be that kind of person.

9. APPEAR ON MASTERCHEF USA

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Once again, Masterchef USA is a show Mr. D and I tune into religiously every year, and we’ve actually picked up a few tips from this cooking competition. However, I would never want to be a contestant on this show, even if I did live in The States, because Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich could very easily reduce me to tears and turn me into a nervous wreck. No thank you!

10. ATTEMPT TIGHTROPE WALKING

 

 

There are a lot of adrenaline junkies out there but I’m not one of them and heights are not my thing, so you won’t see me on a tightrope anytime soon.

11. SWIM IN SHARK INFESTED WATERS

 

As I’ve said I’m not an adrenaline junkie and clearly do not have a sense of adventure, so once again not for me.

12. RETURN TO WORKING IN RETAIL

 

Before anyone accuses me of putting down people who work in the retail sector, let me explain. I spent more years than I care to think about working in retail, so I have a lot of respect for those who work in retail because I know how tough it can be – especially at this time of the year.

In theory, it should all go swimmingly. After all it’s not the worst job in the world; you get to meet people every day; and there are some exceptionally enjoyable tasks i.e.- going to trade shows, generous staff discounts etc.

However in practice I’ve found it incredibly draining. Dealing with the general public is not easy. Dealing with those in head office is even harder. Sometimes your colleagues don’t understand the importance of working as part of a team. And let’s not forget with more and more stores open for longer hours and seven days a week, it leaves you with little time for yourself, family and friends. I still like the idea of owning a shop of some kind but I doubt I’ll ever do it as I found it incredibly draining.

13. WORK FOR A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER

 

It was my childhood ambition – until a careers officer said after a consultation that I lacked the ruthlessness and forceful character to be a journo. That and the fact that I didn’t like to pry into other people’s business!

Yep, I think I’m better suited to teaching English!

14. HAVE BOTOX

 

I know I’m getting older and I can see the signs. I don’t look or feel twenty one any more. However, I don’t believe that Botox is the answer – why would I want to inject poison into myself? I don’t believe in putting anything into my body that really shouldn’t be there, so I will fight aging with happy and healthy living.

15. BUY SUPER EXPENSIVE CLOTHES

 

When I was a teenager I was into labels and brand names as most of my peers were. That didn’t always mean I’d get them though and fast forward several years, I’m very grateful that my parents didn’t give into my every whim. I still love clothes and probably have more than I need but I don’t spend a fortune on each item and love spotting a bargain. I’d hate to spend a grand on a coat and then feel I’d need to wear it for the rest of my natural life and then be buried in it just to get my money’s worth!

16. BECOME A POLITICIAN

 

Where do I begin???

17. BE PART OF THE IN-CROWD

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During the course of my life, I’ve met some exceptionally interesting people who seemed to have it all. They said all the right things, had all the right things, looked the right way, surrounded themselves with all the right people and were seen in all the right places. In a nutshell, they were the in-crowd.

The only thing is that their hearts weren’t often in the right place and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised what’s important.

18. TO WATCH ANY MOVIE THAT’S BOUND TO LEAVE ME TRAUMATIZED

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Twelve Years A Slave and The Passion Of The Christ are out as interesting and as fascinating as they are. When I watch a film, I want to be entertained not left feeling depressed.

19. OWN A FLASHY CAR

We’d all like a flashy car parked on our drive but I can’t help thinking what a waste of money it is. Unlike houses, the value of a car generally tends to go down not up. So I think I’ll invest my money in bricks and mortar, thank you.

20. RIDE A BIKE AROUND LONDON

visitlondon.com

visitlondon.com

I am most definitely not hot on two wheels at the best of times but riding around London with its super busy streets which I don’t believe is really ideal for cyclists… I’ll give it a miss. I’ve heard a great deal about accidents on our roads and even been at the scene of one, and my heart really goes out to those who have been hurt or worse. And I take my hat of to those who are far braver than me and are willing to have a go.

What’s on your anti-bucket list?

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The Vintage Tea Party Book: A Must For Tea Party Fanatics

 

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I bought a book today which is absolutely, fantastically, smack-you-in-the-face awesome! It’s called The Vintage Tea Party Book and it’s by – I just love her name – Angel Adoree.

I’m a huge fan of books about tea parties, dinner parties and home entertaining because it’s based on something I love to do – have a house full of people eating, drinking and having a bloody good time! Angel says in her book that her parents ‘ have always been motivated by feeding people’s souls with food laughter and cocktails,’ – and that pretty much sums up the story of my life! And like Angel, I think my own parents played a big part in my love of home entertaining as it wasn’t unusual for them to have dinner parties and gatherings at home when I was growing up. I was allowed to join in even though I should have been tucked up in bed. But I grew up with memories  of Dad’s awful jokes; raucous laughter; happy people, and empty dishes as everyone loved Mum’s cooking. So it’s no surprise that when I grew up I had an overwhelming desire to recreate those fabulous evenings.

Angel Adoree

Angel Adoree

The first thing you notice about the cover of The Vintage Tea Party Book is the shades of red, white and blue, and the images of top hats, monocles, pocket watches, Union Jacks, pipes, a cake stand, china teacups and teapots, pearls, butterflies and rose buds. What you get is a cross between a quintessential British vibe with full-on vintage glamour – two themes which feature heavily in this book. This suits The Vintage Tea Party Book down to a, well, tea!

The cover also explains that The Vintage Tea Party Book is ‘a complete guide to hosting the perfect tea party,’ but in reality it is so much more than that. What you essentially get is Angel Adoree between a hardback cover. We get a glimpse into the author’s life with pictures of her family, friends, and some childhood snaps. There are also quite a few pics of the present day Angel; a buxom lady with cherry red lips, and hair the exact same colour worn in a victory roll.

We hear about her childhood, work, entrance into the world of business, appearance on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, and her business venture, The Vintage Patisserie. And as if her appearance wasn’t enough of an indicator, the reader also learns about Angel’s lifelong love affair with all things vintage.

The Vintage Tea Party Book

The Vintage Tea Party Book

 

The Vintage Tea Party Book contains more than just recipes for a good tea party. There are ideas about how to host a party; helpful hints about sourcing vintage items; fashion and beauty advice for those who want to look 1940s; grooming advice for men; a little about the history of the Union Jack, and suggestions for games to play. There’s also arts and crafts with instructions for sewing aprons; drying edible flowers; making a butterfly display, and more. And let’s not forget templates for invitation and thank you cards. All this before we even get to the recipes.

And you won’t be disappointed with the recipes. They’re divided into three parts: brunch, afternoon tea, and evening tea.

The usual tea time treats are still there but they’ve been elevated to a more sophisticated level. So instead of your usual cucumber finger sandwiches, you’ve got cream cheese and cucumber heart-shaped, open sandwiches, and there are lemon scones with lavender cream instead of your usual run-of-the-mill (but nonetheless delicious) scones with clotted cream. There are some really unusual and delicious sounding treats such as hot baked grapefruit; chilled raspberry soup; crab choux, and pork and lemon quail scotch eggs. I especially liked the sound of the romantic sounding rose panna cotta, and the very unusual rose petal sandwich. There are also recipes for a selection of drinks including iced teas, smoothies, cocktails and hot drinks. I particularly want to try the white chocolate mocha and the bourbon slush.

Cream cheese and cucumber hearts

Cream cheese and cucumber hearts

The Vintage Tea Party Book is most definitely going to be one of the most inspiring books I own, and I can’t wait to try out the recipes and put the other suggestions to good use.

And just to give you a hint of how awesome this book is, I’ve posted Angel’s  recipe for the divine sounding cherry and dark chocolate trifle shots. Yum!

Angel Adoree, we adore thee!

CHERRY AND DARK CHOCOLATE TRIFLE SHOTS

INGREDIENTS:

6 sponge fingers, broken into small pieces

100ml cherry brandy or chocolate liqueur

50g dark chocolate, grated

1 pack of dark cherry jelly, made up according to instructions, then chopped up

jar of morello cherries

100ml custard

100ml whipped cream

METHOD:

  1. Arrange sponge finger pieces at the bottom of 6 shot glasses.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of chosen liqueur to each one.
  3. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chocolate.
  4. Once the sponge fingers have absorbed the liqueur, add a heaped tablespoon of prepared jelly to each shot.
  5. Top with a few cherries and more grated chocolate.
  6. To serve, top each shot with a heaped tablespoon of custard, and a tablespoon of whipped cream.
  7. Finish with decorative sprinkle of grated chocolate.

The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree

Mitchell Beazley

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Opening Champagne: A Class Act

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Champagne epitomizes glamour, elegance and style and is synonymous with celebration, success and fun times. As a result, no major event is complete without a bottle of champers.

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Equally as important as producing a bottle of fizz, is knowing how to open and serve it. It’s amazing how many people get it wrong – me included! 😦 When it comes to opening bottles of Champagne, wine, or ketchup, I leave that firmly in the capable hands of Mr. D as I really struggle with it!

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Thankfully there are techniques involved in serving Champagne which make the whole process look effortless and requires minimal practise.

1. FIRST THINGS FIRST

Chill the Champagne.

Do you like warm Champagne? What a surprise – neither do we! A chilled drink is so much more pleasant than a lukewarm one. So chill the bottle for at least one hour in the fridge or on ice. Not only will this make the drink more palatable but chilling the Champagne  reduces the chances of the Champagne cork shooting out unexpectedly.

 

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2. NOW TO OPEN

 

  1. Wrap a thick tea towel around the bottle in case of breakage.
  2. Remove the foil wrapper.
  3. Hold the neck of the bottle firmly in one hand.
  4. With your thumb, apply pressure to the top of the wire cage against the cork.
  5. Twist to remove the wire cage. Maintain firm pressure  with your thumb to prevent the cork from unexpectedly popping out.*
  6. Tilt the bottle at a 45 degree angle away from you – and other people!
  7. Holding the cork firmly, twist the bottle NOT the cork.
  8. Keep a steady pressure on the cork with your hand as you feel it begin to loosen and rise.
  9. You may expect to hear a super loud bang as the cork is released from the bottle, but if done correctly all you should hear is a ‘fizzy hiss.’
  10. Once you’ve opened the bottle, hold it by it’s base, with your thumb in the deep concave, while your other four fingers cradle the bottle.
  11. Pour a small amount of Champagne into each glass, resisting the temptation to rapidly fill it. As the foam subsides you can add a little more to each glass.
  12. Just in case one glass bubbles over, discreetly place your finger over the rim of the glass in order to prevent it spilling onto your guests fabulous outfits. You don’t want the night to end on a bad note!
  13. Enjoy!

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* I heard about a lady who got hit on the side of her head – quite close to her eye- by an unexpected popping Champagne cork. To this day, even though she likes drinking Champagne, she has something of a phobia regarding Champagne bottles and corks – and quite frankly I don’t blame her. So remember safety first; Champagne is to be enjoyed not feared.

What A Girl Wants… Never Goes Out Of Style!

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As everyone knows, things go in and out of fashion and trends change whether it’s clothes, shoes, hair, or make-up. But there are some things that have never changed and probably never will, and will always be a mainstay in a girl’s wardrobe and handbag. So let’s take a look at some of the things that a girl can’t live without regardless of changing trends.

1. THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS

Black will always be the new black and nothing screams glamour and sophistication quite like the Little Black Dress. A little black dress or LBD is traditionally  an evening or cocktail dress, which is usually cut simply and often quite short – hence the ‘little’.

The origins of the little black dress are linked back to the 1920s designs of the legendary Coco Chanel. The dress was intended to be simple but stylish, long-lasting, versatile, affordable, and neutral in colour. No lady’s wardrobe is complete without the “little black dress” and it is considered  a rule of fashion that every woman should own a simple, versatile, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Every girl has at least one trusty black dress in her wardrobe which she can slip into and it’s our go-to dress when the occasion calls for it – which saves a lot of faffing around, deciding what to wear. My own fave LBD has tiny white polka dots, spaghetti straps, a (very short) scalloped hem, and ruching along the front. It’s great for a party, informal dinner, and I can dress it up with boots and a leather jacket for gigs. It’s also short enough to pass as a top so I can team it up with jeans or leggings. Not only do I feel great in it but it’s also very versatile.

Although the original LBD was intended to be simple, these days anything goes, and as party season approaches, you can bet your life you’ll see a stunning array of black dresses in different fabrics with various necklines, hemlines, sleeves and embellishments. With so many different styles, the little black dress can never be boring or outdated. And with so many styles available, there’s always an excuse to add another one to our collection! LBD

2. JEANS

Skinny, Bootcut, Hipster, Flare, Straight Leg and Boyfriend… whichever cut, wash and colour you choose, jeans are a wardrobe necessity. The styles of jeans may have changed over the years but those faithful denim trousers have always been a part of our wardrobes. With the exception of my mother, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I practically live in mine and I’ve lost count of the amount I have. Right now skinnies are in, so I have loads of those in black, charcoal and various shades of blue. But I do have some boot-cut ones too and loved that particular style – until I discovered skinny jeans!

During the tomboy years, I used to wear my jeans  big and baggy to the point where they were practically falling off me before graduating to a more straight-leg style. A few years back there was a trend for teaming jeans  with short floaty dresses. I was surprised that I could pull off that look and thought I looked great – though my brother told me that he thought I just looked confused! But then, what does he know about fashion?

One thing I love about jeans is that with the exception of formal events, you can wear jeans just about everywhere. I always go to work in jeans and wear them on nights out. It might look as though I don’t wear anything else but I always feel my best in a pair of jeans. However, I’ve never particularly cared for white or coloured jeans. Give me a pair of blue or black any day! images5WGFX4EY

3. CHANEL No. 5

I’ve heard that giving someone a bottle of Chanel No.5 is the equivalent of giving a bouquet of flowers. Well in that case – as much as I love flowers – give me a Chanel No.5 every time! This fragrance is a timeless classic launched by Coco Chanel (who else!) and a bottle of this perfume has adorned the dressing tables of women around the world for decades. The key flowers are ylang-ylang, mayrose and jasmine.

 I’ll never forget being given my first bottle of Chanel No.5 when I was in my early twenties. I suddenly knew what all the fuss was about. It was like glamour in a very sophisticated, sleek bottle. No wonder it was all Marilyn Monroe wore to bed. It’s not really one for those who like subtle fragrances. This one is bold and really makes an impact. I know some people have criticised it for being old-fashioned and ‘an old lady’s perfume’ but I reckon these are people with a very poor sense of smell! This fragrance is a classic and continues to be a firm favourite with women all over the world – regardless of their age.
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4. SCARLET LIPS AND NAILS

Gwyneth Paltrow’s secret to being super-confident is wearing a lipstick in a ‘kick-ass red.’ Red is a colour that never seems to date, and although lip and nail colours may change in terms of what’s hot and what’s not, red has always been the number one colour for those who wish to make a statement. Bold and attention-grabbing, it’s synonymous with power, seduction and glamour. It’s not a colour you wear if all you want to do is blend into the background. Not all of us can wear the bright fire-engine red – definitely not a colour for me – but thankfully with so many shades available, we can all find a red lippy and nail colour that suits us and to release our inner-vamp.

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5. BACKCOMBED HAIR

I love wearing my hair like this, and Mr.D thinks it’s awesome too. It’s a look that was made famous by The Ronettes and Brigitte Bardot and was very popular during the 1960s. It even became Claudia Schiffer’s signature look during her modelling heyday, and of course it’s synonymous with Amy Winehouse.

Whether hair’s backcombed into a beehive do or a tousled mane, us girls know that when we need an instant dose of glamour, backcombing is the only way to go. It’s a great look for a night out but I’ve seen women rocking backcombed hair while wheeling a trolley around a supermarket during the day – and it works! Backcombing also instantly gives the appearance of thicker, fuller hair but unfortunately it can be quite damaging especially if you backcomb hair regularly, so it’s probably best saved for special occasions.

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6. VASELINE

You could honestly write a book about the million and one uses of Vaseline – or petroleum jelly to use it’s non-brand name! It can be used to soften lips, moisten dry knees and elbows, condition eyelashes, slick eyebrows into shape, add a shimmer to cheek bones, put around nails when painting them… I’ve even come across one beauty tip which instructs putting Vaseline on teeth before drinking coffee in order to avoid staining. Er, yeah, I think I’ll be giving that one a miss thanks. But with so many uses, is it any surprise that women the world over have a little tub of this wonder product in their handbags?

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7. HEELS

Despite the fact that I’m a bit of a shorty, I definitely feel more comfy in a pair of flats so tend to wear them every day. However, comfort counts for nothing when it comes to dressing up to the nines when only a pair of heels will do – the higher the better. Not only does it look better with the outfit you’re wearing, but it makes you feel more confident, foxy and glam. So whether they’re dainty little kitten heels or skyscraper stilettos, us girls definitely have a collection of heels to rock any outfit. True, I can’t walk in a pair of heels to save my life but as a friend once said, trainers are for walking in and heels are for posing in. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

HEELS

8. SMOKEY EYES

Where make-up is concerned, trends seem to veer towards a more natural look with lots of ‘nude’ shades. However, full-on smokey, vampy eyes will never go out of style no matter what the in-thing may be. Like the LBD, smokey eyes are timelessly sultry, It’s also right up there with the red-hot lips – but of course we all know the eyes or lips rule so would never wear them both at the same time. Smokey eyes are perfect for when you need a little sophisticated drama. I remember that a few years ago when I was getting my acting headshots done, the make-up artist gave me the most amazing smokey eyes. She did such an amazing job that even strangers stopped me on the street to comment on my eyes. To this day, I am kicking myself for not getting her card.

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9. BALLET STYLE PUMPS

Ballet pump style flat shoes are what I live in during the summer months. They’re more forgiving than sandals and I find them easier to walk in than flip flops. I also think they’re really sweet looking and you can wear these ballet type shoes with most styles of clothes. These shoes are literally everywhere and they come in an array of styles. You can get very simple designs for everyday use and more glitzy, glam ones for more special occasions. I’m not surprised that they’re such a hit with women everywhere because they are a practical solution to footwear and can be worn both day or night. I’ve been known to carry a pair of these in my bag on nights out which is a very welcome relief to my poor, weary feet. Heels might make me feel sophisticated and womanly, but I feel super cute and girly in my ballet style pumps – so I definitely have the best of both worlds.

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10. BLACK LEATHER

Black leather may be considered very 1980s, but it’s very edgy, practical and rock n’ roll. I really don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t own something made from black leather, whether it’s a jacket, boots, shoes, trousers or even a wallet. It’s extremely durable and can be worn for both day and night. I absolutely love my boots and jacket, and they have often received admiring looks and comments. Even my old PE teacher who was veering towards vegetarianism last time I saw him, admitted to having a leather jacket because it was the only thing he had that kept him warm – and in London that’s essential! Of course, it’s all about the look, so for those who don’t wish to wear genuine leather for ethical reasons, can’t fork out the hefty price tag, or in my sister’s case, can’t stand the smell, there are some pretty good leather-look items out there. imagesUA3VR946

Even though it’s unlikely that leather  will go out of fashion, it can look dated. So I never wear anything that’s covered in millions of studs – even though heavily studded leather jackets seem to be in all the shops at the moment – and as I’m not a biker or in a 1980s tribute rock band, there’s no need for me to wear head-to-toe leather. Instead  prefer to mix leather with other fabrics and styles for a unique look.

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Tea party Etiquette: The Rules!

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As much as I’m a cappuccino and cake kind of girl, I do love a good tea party – especially if it’s done properly. I know in the States, an afternoon tea party is considered to be a quintessentially British pastime. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news guys, but most of us here in the ‘old country’ don’t even own a piece of fine bone China, never mind drink from it every day. And I really cannot remember the last time I used a saucer. On the rare occasions I do drink tea, it’s usually from a cardboard cup – just like my cappuccino!

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

But I do know a typically British afternoon tea party can be a fabulous occasional treat. We don’t have them every day or every week, but they are very popular for birthdays, bridal showers, little girls dressing-up tea parties, and just generally  when you feel like being a little bit girly and going overboard with the hats, gloves, tea dresses and pearls. Told you it’s not an every day thing!

Original image by pixabay. com

Original image by pixabay. com

Tea parties can vary in terms of theme, style and food served, and there’ll be more about that in later posts. Although they are usually considered to be quite formal occasions, they don’t always have to be. They’re just great fun  and a chance to have a cup of tea and a natter with a huge slice of cake. However formal or not, there are certain rules (for want of a better word) which need to be taken into account for a smooth running party.

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

So here’s the low-down on tea party etiquette.

TEA PARTY ETIQUETTE

IF YOU’RE THE HOSTESS:

1. Depending on how formal you want to be, you may want to send out invitations. Make sure you send these out in plenty of time.

2. Greet your guests as they come in. I don’t really think a handshake and a ‘how do you do?’ is necessary as one book suggested. Hello and a smile work just fine!

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

2. Show guests to the table and invite them to sit down. Whether you give them assigned seating or allow them to chose their own seats is up to you.

3. As the hostess, it’s your job to serve each of the courses and pour the tea. Make sure the conversation is flowing and your guests are eating and drinking.

Original image from pixabay.com

Original image from pixabay.com

4. It’s fine to arrange for someone else to do the serving if you wish so that you can concentrate on just having a good time with your guests.

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

5. If you are not able to get outside help and you have a fairly large number of guests, you can nominate a couple of friends to help serve – especially if you know that they are happy to do so!

IF YOU’RE THE GUEST:

1. It’s always nice to bring a small gift for the hostess.

2. Take your place at the table and wait to be served.

Original image from pixabay.com

Original image from pixabay.com

3. Keep your purse or handbag on your lap or behind your chair but not on the table.

4. When the party’s over, always send a handwritten note of thanks to your host – preferably within a week.

FOR EVERYONE:

Original image from pixabay.com

Original image from pixabay.com

 

 1. Place napkins on your lap. If you need to leave the table, leave the napkin on your chair and not on the table.

2. No reaching across the table for anything. If you’d like something, ask someone to pass it to you.

3. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat with your fingers – no one eats sandwiches with a knife and fork – but anything that has the potential to be messy should be eaten with a fork.

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

4. Remember that thick cream is for scones – not for tea.

5. Take small bites of the sandwiches no matter how tiny they are. Don’t cram a whole one into your mouth. Now is not the time for party pieces!

6. When eating scones or muffins, break off a bite-size piece, then put a small amount of butter and/or jam on it. If clotted cream is being served, a small amount can be dabbed on after the jam.

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

7. Don’t dip the sugar tong or sugar spoon into your tea if you are taking sugar.

8. Stir the tea with your teaspoon and then place the teaspoon on the saucer behind the cup.

9. If your tea is too hot, simply leave it on the table to cool. Don’t blow on it to cool the tea down.

Original image by pixabay. com

Original image by pixabay. com

10. Slurping is not acceptable!

11. And neither is dunking biscuits.

12. Whatever our American friends might say, nobody here sticks their little/pinky finger out when drinking tea from a teacup. Who does that???

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

This is of course a rough guide and rules are open to interpretation. The most important rules which go without saying is that everyone should be happy, comfy, well-fed and having fun!

Original image by pixabay.com

Original image by pixabay.com

Enjoy!!!

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Please Rain On My Parade!

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We’re still in August but the cooler temperature of the last few days has been an indicator that Autumn will be here before we know it – and I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s pelting down with rain as I’m writing this post but instead of feeling dismayed at the grey skies I cannot wait for Autumn to arrive which is most definitely my favourite season.

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As a Summer baby, the irony that I don’t ‘do hot weather’ isn’t lost on me. I put it down to the fact that I’m a Londoner, and that the cold and the rain is what I’m used to but then I know that that doesn’t count for much as most Londoners crave the sun – mainly because we don’t usually have any! But I’m most definitely an Autumn-bordering-on-Winter kind of girl. When planning our wedding, the original date was to be in Winter (Mr. D’s birthday to be  exact) but the reaction from our guests – who acted as though we’d just announced that our wedding was gong to be held in a morgue – made us reconsider. So as a compromise, we held our wedding in the twilight month of September: technically Summer but with a more Autumn feel.

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I understand that to say you don’t like hot weather is like saying you don’t like chocolate, can’t stand Friends or never listen to music! I’m not totally sure where my negativity regarding the Summer comes from because I’m quite sure I loved it when I was a child.  I put it down to the fact that as I got older I became less tolerant to the sun (or maybe the sun became less tolerant towards me!) But I don’t see anything great about sweating like a spa; having your make-up slide off your face; getting heat rash  and sunstroke… I could go on and on. Sure we get to indulge in ice-cream, barbecues, picnics, give our summer clothes an airing, and drive with the top down if we’re lucky enough to own a convertible. But for me, the colder months have more appeal.

So why do I love Autumn so much? Well…

1. If it gets too cold, you just put on extra layers. What do you do when it’s too hot? I don’t live near Miami Beach so running around in a bikini is not an option!

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2. I’m very much a jeans and boots kind of girl, but who can wear boots in scorching hot weather? I love the ballet style pumps I live in throughout the warmer months but it feels so good to be back in a pair of knee-high boots!

b4e6a25b83ef8c80e736e40fc392ece53. I love my snug, cosy jumpers, sweaters and cardis.

b6d50e938049e42d1175d6ed956511464. The colder temperature means lots of frothy, hot drinks. I love the wonderfully flavoured hot chocolates and coffees that are available. Gingerbread, eggnog, pumpkin pie lattes… bring it on!

9dac74f8b853b89380b8696fdc948ac55. All the best holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Valentine’s Day – take place during Autumn and Winter.

91ef87c27baacc591457da8c505abb1b6. There’s no denying that blossom looks gorgeous in Spring but there’s just something naturally stunning about the simplicity of Fall colours. Plus walking ankle-deep in fallen leaves reminds me of my childhood.

e0e4af7801503de99673e4e9991824ec7.  It’s the perfect excuse to lie around in cosy pjs, with a warm blanket watching movies all day (providing it’s the weekend of course!)

jam8. Comforting soups, stews and stodgy puds were made for this weather!

c22bf7b45c460be365672c6fdcc6810d9. There’s something quite beautiful about a  dark city street, after it’s been raining and seeing the street lights reflected on the glistening ground.

imagesHAY40OMF10. If you think miserable weather means being cooped up indoors, think again. Some of my best nights out have occurred during cold and wet weather.

imagesJNYNTT8111. …but if you do decide to stay in, sofa Saturday nights with takeaways, booze, movies and mates are fab.

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12. You can ditch the exercise plan as you won’t be getting your bikini bod out for a while!

images52SLUESX13. It’s great news for holidaymakers and soon-to-be-marrieds as everything tends to be cheaper around this time.

919cba7fcc60496198876a96b44c36ad14. No one wants to be stuck indoors during the Summer, especially not in a hot kitchen, but Autumn’s great for practising your baking skills.

af17f96ebd70102e575eadee310cb16815. There’s an extra hour in bed!

child-sleeping16. It’s great to fall asleep to the sound of falling rain.

swr17. The crisp, cool weather makes for great walks.

322594c5e6154444c0e2aacd2bec075918. Who wouldn’t like to sit in front of a real log fire?

imagesBS01HPVG19. Packed tubes, trains and buses are way more bearable when it’s cold.

efee4-imagescap4210j20. I can wear my beloved scarves and not look like an idiot!

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I can’t wait to say

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Bring it on!

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