Friday, 19 August 2011

A cheeky little number

I've just been really naughty... But I'm not sorry. Not sorry at all!

I have no idea how I got turned on to A Wear. Somehow I added myself to their mailing list and have been studiously ignoring their emails ever since in an attempt to save myself from temptation. I'm kind of glad that I did, but then I'm also kind of (guiltily) glad that the first email I've read from them in months directed me towards the sale!

Now, I can't resist a good sale. And this is a very good sale. An EPIC sale. Most things at less than half price and they have a good range of sizes left. What's not to love?

How adorable is this blouse? £25 down to £17.50 but only in a size 6, so I bought the white version which is only £7.50

They also sell the Closet range also in Dorothy Perkins which I mentioned previously, but they have a bigger range of sizes available in the sale:

Just look at this dress! Look at the detailing on that belt!

And check out the back! Down from £45 to £15 and also available in red and black.
I wish I'd seen this pencil skirt before I clicked to buy. I do love me a good pencil shirt, and the longer line of this one is divine. Down from £30 to £15. But I did buy the last one of the tan version of this skirt for only £7 (the blue is £15). It calls itself "peachskin" which I really hope doesn't translate as tacky velour..

I really could go on and on here but please take a look for yourselves. The dresses are the most exciting sale section, but there's also some really good denim and knitwear in the sale, like this cute mint cardi for only £10

As well as basic jersey tops for as little as £3 in a really sweet range of colours

So I went a little savings-crazy and picked out a couple of likely-looking dresses to try for the swanky wedding, and when you're paying a flat rate for delivery it's worth buying a few pieces to spread the cost... That's just good maths. So I picked out a few more basics and some work wear and some just for fun items.

I spent over £100. Now I have to do some major sale guilt justification:
Total cost of what I bought before sale: £339
Total cost after sale: £138.5
Then I got an additional 10% off with a voucher code
Then I found another voucher code for free shipping (this totally doesn't cancel out the argument above. Shh...)

So actually I'm quite proud of myself.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Autumn Style Guide - Teal, Burgundy & Spice

I've always maintained that I'm only ever fashionable by accident, that is to say when fashion happens to coincide with my own personal style. So it is with great joy that I'm watching the Autumn trends come out with a wash of jewel tone colours like Teal, Emerald, Burgundy and Plum. They're flattering on alost every skin tone and hair colour and it's so nice to wear richer colours as the light starts to fade from the mornings and evenings.

But the real trend to watch, and a bit of a new one on me, are spice colours. Mustard yellow, Saffron orange, Cinnamon red and Nutmeg brown are all out in force. I've been swishing around an awful lot lately in my new *coughPrimarkcough* Saffron coloured safari-style skirt and rejoicing that it doesn't completely wash out my English-rose skin and clash with my bottle-red hair but actually compliments both.

So here's a little Etsy trend watch of a few Summer to Autumn crossover pieces that I'm loving right now.

Hope you like it!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Back it up

Dress shopping. It's a minefield.

I've been browsing the inter webs for most of the day today looking for the perfect dress for a tricky wedding situation. It's a pretty posh affair in a swanky London hotel so must be relatively smart, must be figure flattering as dearest Daddy will be there and he always manages to sneak some comment in about my waistline, and must be on a budget as all my spare pennies are going towards my own wedding. The sales are all down to tiny girl sizes, (Closet at Dorothy Perkins has some stonking dresses in their sale if you're a size 14 or below) my usual resources for more affordable fashion (namely all seem to be either too casual or cut way too far above the knee and I just can't justify shelling out over £50 at Fever no matter how perfectly cut their dresses are. It's all highly frustrating!

But I have found a little something to lift my mood as I continue to search. Seller LEKGALENG on Etsy has some really novel tops and dresses that I just had to share.

Pretty standard vest top from the front...

Party in the back!

Some of the designs are a little bright for my taste, especially the ones where te vest part is coloured rather than black, but I like the boldness and simplicity of the tattoo-inspired designs

These two will cost you will cost you around £21 a piece including delivery (from Thailand)

This one is more like £25 and they do dresses too...
Perhaps slightly risque on the bum clevage front this one, but I'm totally drawn to it. If I were a touch more rock, had a spare £27, and had boobies small enough to go without a bra I would totally buy this dress.

Then I'd probably immediately wonder where on earth I'd wear it. Certainly not to a swanky London wedding. *sigh*

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Post (and) Script - Mini Obsession

Mini obsessions come and go in my life. I'm a great one for finding a beautiful item, style or genre, then obsessing over it untill I own at least one item falling in to that category (usually more than one).

One of the recent obsessions that seems to be having a resurgance in my conscious today is vitage postal ephemera, possibly sparked off by the Disaster Designs Dandy items I mentioned in a previous post. Despite the fact I've never been a good letter writer myself I'm compulsively drawn to images of vintage letters, postcards, stamps and postmarks as well as old-looking cursive handwriting. There's something so intriguing about old letters, the secrets and words of love they might contain.

So I'm going to vent my obsession here today in the hopes reliving a few loves, wants and makes will stop me buying anything new! There's the most amazing host of paper items out there with vintage postal prints, from notecards to swing tags to journal covers, but I think the items that work best in this theme are the non paper ones.
Printed fabrics are constantly top of my list of wants, for use with my hatmaking. The quality of fabric and print and the depth of detail in the designs, mostly seeming to come out of Korea and Japan, at the moment is astonishing. Most of my current collection comes from Etsy sellers RetroNaNa and Minnafabric, though given some extra pennies I'd definately snap up some pieces from Renees Fabrics. I could fill a whole post with amazing fabric prints (in fact, maybe I will at some point soon) but for now here's a little treasury of scripty style prints for you crafters:

Actually, that was a really bad idea as now I've found a bunch more fabrics and sellers to keep an eye on! Here's a couple of recent Chapeau Carmine creations vibing off the postal theme
This one's called Write me a Love Letter
and I called this one Meet me in Paris. Old romantic much? This one recently sold, but I have a new one made from the same fabric to be listed soon!

Searching around the subject on Etsy today (this is how all of my obsessions gain ground in my head) I found this amazing Postcards From Europe Corset Cincher by MidnightAgenda which I'm totally in want of (she has a vintage newspaper style one which is eaqually if nore more gorgeous):

There's also about a million really adorable pieces of jewellery around this theme, mostly of the scrabble tile or silver charm kind but this one by kvossdesigns has really caught my eye:

Now, I know I'm totally Etsy-centric and find most of my pretties through there (how cute is this airmail T-shirt, £35.90 with postage from Milatree)
 But it's not only the amazing crafters on Etsy who are feeding my postal frenzy (surruptitious drinking would feel so much more stylish with the Wanderlust flask, £15.10 from the gloriously named WhimsyandInk)    
OK, OK, enough Etsy.

I found these adorable business card holders on Not on the High Street (which I may well have to investigate more. A friend gets a lot of real bargains from there). 4 designs to choose from for £8.07 each
Or you can get the matching compact mirror for £9.50

This Silver Postcard charm is gorgeous too, and personalizable (is that a word?) with your own message for £55

 And finally one for the men: The Postcard Mighty Wallet for £11.99.

There are a lot of really cute zippy purses and pouches out there (made from some of the fabrics I listed above no less) but the Mighty Wallet has Mighty in the name, so it wins automatically.

Well, whaddayaknow. I may have managed to distract myself long enough by the finding of these things that I have no more time today in which to buy them. My bank balance can sleep safe for another night. One day closer to payday...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Teacup and Cakes

I've been craving a proper Afternoon Tea for months now. Not just a cream tea with scones, but the full works with little cakes and dainty sandwiches, preferably served from a silver cake stand and posh tea in proper china. I think the craving was started on a weekend trip to York with Fiance (the tea room was too full of ladies of a certain age in their Sunday best for us in our jeans to squeeze in), and has been fed ever since by reading blog posts about other amazing tea establishments, too often in very posh hotels and almost always in London.

So when lovely Middle Sister came up for an afternoon of shopping in Manchester it seemed like the perfect opportunity to satisfy my craving, and after a touch of googling and a few Facebook recommendations we found ourselves in Teacup and Cakes on Thomas Street.
You can't say no to this sign can you?

Earlier in the day we'd already heartily raided Yo Sushi (hadn't been before but will definitely be back, having your food paraded in front of you in a never ending loop of tasty, genius!) so we opted for one Cream Tea and one Afternoon Tea thinking we were being all frugal. It's a good thing we did...

The Cream Tea came with a choice of Assam, Darjeeling or Earl Grey, we chose the latter. With the Afternoon Tea, however, you can choose any one from the boggling menu of loose leaf options. We were tempted by Jasmine Pearls (who wouldn't be with a name like that) but in the end went for the Heart of Love Blooming Flower Tea. When the many pots and cups arrived, along with little multi chamber egg timers to time your brew, we were somewhat guessing at the propr way to do things. Turns out the Earl Grey should be strained from one pot into another empty pot when the brewing time was up to stop it stewing, easy enough, then pour and serve. With the Heart of Love we received a glass pot full of hot water, an empty glass jug and a small glass cup containig a sachet with what looked like a dried mushroom in it. We guessed (correctly it turns out) that the same pot to pot method was the way to go. When removed from the sachet and dropped into the hot water, the little mushroom thing (which is really very cleverly tied white needle tea) starts to slowly bloom open, letting loose an amazing smell of jasmine and revealing another flower in the centre. This tea would be a winner for visuals alone but the taste was equally delicious, lightly floral with none of the bitterness I often find with white or green teas (perhaps I've just been brewing it wrong).  I wish I'd taken a picture at the time, but have googled flowering tea since and am now seriously coveting this set from Ebay
Look at all the different kinds you can get!

The reason we didn't take a picture of the tea is that we were far too distracted by the arrival of the food! If the table weren't already full enough with multiple tea acoutrements, it was groaning now! We'd already scoffed all of the sandwiches, which weren't the dainty crusts-off kind but chunky wholemeal bread utterly stuffed with hummous and flaffel, and shared the small cakes, devinely light chocolate mousse cake, ludicrously moist carrot and mandarin cake and one drippingly rich one that tasted of honey, before we even though of getting the camera phones out, so you'll have to take my word on how beautiful and tasy it all was. And whaddya know, it came on a silver cake stand too!
But the total show-stealers of the day were the scones. Oh the scones. Just look at the scones!
They're HUGE! No dainty little rounds here but big, chunky rustic scones served with generous amounts of proper clotted cream and really lovely jam.
They were dense but cakey at the same time and stuffed full of raisins and whole toasted hazelnuts which gave a very satisfying crunch. We both made a valiant effort but couldn't finish the whole lot and had some left over to take home, I promised my leftovers to hard-done-by fiance who had been working hard all day and not able to join us, but in the end I scoffed most of his share myself! Oops!
The Cream Tea was £6.50 and the Afternoon Tea £12.95, which is very reasonable for what you get and a whole lot less than a posh hotel, who probably would have disapproved of me in my jeans and trainers anyway. I'll definately be back into Teacup and Cakes to try some more of their amazing looking treats and teas, the atmosphere is very laid back and the staff very friendly. They also sell the Make us a Brew range of teas and accessories from Mr Scruff, Sister advises everyone to try the Mint and Chilli variety

I had a lovely day with my sister. Why can't every Monday be filled with half half price Birthday Shoes, sushi, shopping tea and cake?